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« (Better addressing) why grad students drop out? | Main | Grad program support for alt-ac careers? »



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anon prof

I think the student is making a lot of assumptions, although understandable in some sense, about their professors' beliefs about leaving academic philosophy. You may be surprised to find that they would be super supportive. But if you have already decided to leave academia, then it doesn't really matter. You should go ahead and ask them if they can give you a *strong recommendation* because they are your most recent professors. It is very likely that they will say yes. And if they don't, at least you tried, and arguably there is no way that they could sabotage your switch in career. And if they really think that there is no life outside of academia...well...then sounds like you have additional reasons to leave the program!

Bottom of the top

If you know one person in the department you're sure you can trust, you can ask them who else in the department is also trustworthy. Anyone (especially at a low or unranked program) who is even a half decent person should be really sympathetic to these concerns and should want to help you. I'm at a mid/low ranked program where there are only two faculty in my AOS, and last week I just helped a student who realized my AOS is what they want to do to think about these same concerns in terms of transferring out. It is sad for us, obviously, but it's the right thing to do. Good luck!

also from a lower-ranked program

I would question the assumption that your professors will think you're a sellout. If you're at a lower-ranked program, then they know how low your chances are. I think the choice you're making is increasingly being perceived as the rational and prudential choice. Besides, you've already filled some seats in their seminars, which is what those professors need.

If you're still concerned, you can frame your choice in particular ways. For example, you might want to argue that industry needs philosophers for X, Y, and Z reasons (they do), or that you can effect more change in public policy with a law degree (you could).

Mike Titelbaum

Just wanted to chime in and say that, even at a fairly well-ranked program, there are plenty of us faculty who wouldn’t look down on you or think you’re a sell-out for pursuing a professional career. It’s a matter of knowing the personalities in question, as those above have suggested.

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