Sept. 29, 2008, 3:28 p.m. by Paul Stiverson
For some time now I’ve entertained the notion of getting my doctorate and going to teach somewhere, lately though—and especially considering my poor financial situation—I’ve become less enthusiastic about it. If you don’t mind I’m going to do some analysis of my situation (if you do mind then skip this post, I’m doing it anyway). Getting a Ph.D. means about 4 more years of education, this in-and-of-itself is a good thing. I like school, and I’ve never had too tough a time with it. Staying in school lets me stay in College Station (or allows me to move just as easily), which is nice because I really like it here. Going for the gusto also means four more years of research, this is the rub, I don’t derive a great deal of pleasure from research—it could be that I haven’t found an engaging subject or any host of other issues, but the fact stands that I don’t get as much out of it as I do from other things, namely teaching. The whole reason that I initially wanted a Ph.D. was that it would allow me to teach at a major university, without the teaching aspect I never would have wanted a doctorate. The other major drawback to getting a doctorate is funding, right now funding is pretty sparse unless you are doing work for an oil company or in defense applications. Since I have ethical problems with either of those routes I am left grasping at the leavings of NSF grants, being funded by my prof, or being a TA. Needless to say none of those are very lucrative. Now, one of the things that I’ve been told about being a grad student is that you shouldn’t be concerned with the amount of money you are bringing in, as long as you can pay the rent you are doing fine. This is fine, it is part of the college experience, and I’ve done fine with it so far, but I do need to consider my financial future. At present I have $0 in savings, that is not an exaggeration. I’m not saying that I have debt offsetting my savings, I’m saying that I have no savings (and debt too). On top of that I have no holdings, I’m a renter so I haven’t any equity. I am literally worthless. My 25th birthday is rapidly approaching and at that time I have to take control of my own insurance (both health, and car), and I’m afraid I don’t have the means to afford to live anymore. I don’t see why it is necessarily impossible to start “Life” (buying a house, starting a family, etc.) while still in school, but it _is_ practically impossible to think about making a major purchase when you aren’t sure where your (meager) paycheck will be coming from in the next 6 months. I’ve been thinking about solutions to this problem, and I think I’ve got a workable plan. This will let me have financial solvency and it will let me teach (which I am wildly enthusiastic about), and eliminate the bullshit about school that I could do without. I’m going to be a lecturer. No research, still in academia (sorta). Optimally I would lecture here at A&M (so I don’t have to leave town), but my department doesn’t have any lecturers. I’m going to build up a case for myself and create an opening for myself in the system. Otherwise I’ll look at smaller schools in the area (SHSU and Blinn). Once I have some funds in the bank I can reasonably look at chasing my dreams (Stiverson Press here I come).
Oct. 3, 2008
i know nothing compares to the milk and honey that is b/cs, but i bet you could be a lecturer at acc/hustontilotson/st.eds. i asked about the comma because i just assume you know things about punctuation that i don\'t. i either had to ask or i would have started putting a comma in ph.d. because i would have assumed it was correct.
Oct. 3, 2008
I hear you, brah. I really really miss grad school. I miss going to work when I want, wearing what I want, and telling my boss to fuck off when I want. I do NOT miss having to come up with new and intriguing ideas, analyzing data, and writing papers. I don\'t miss being put on the grill ALL THE DAMN TIME. I\'m defending my MS next Friday. I don\'t know if I could go another 5 or 6 years (pretty average in biology) to get a PhD, earning a mere pittance the whole time. Lots of my friends went and got real jobs, have big savings accounts and can even buy things like cable TV and exbawkses. Myself, I have less than $10 in checking and $0.01 in savings. No kidding. And this is supposed to last me another 12 days. Also I\'ve been paying my own car insurance since I was 16 and my own health insurance since I was 22. Crybaby.
Oct. 1, 2008
oh... there it is, at the pukking bottom with no mentions of cereal, comics, games, nor the word incorporated.
Oct. 1, 2008
What the hell happened to our cereal/printing/comic/gaming store idea huh? i didn\'t see that anywhere in your post!
Paul Stiverson Says:
Oct. 1, 2008
Faith: yeah, the lifelong research was a big part of the decision too (I was going to avoid research by going into the administrative track as quickly as possible (I know that there is a major flaw in that reasoning too)). Lew: I really don’t want to leave the B/CS area, but Austin will be the next choice after the schools around here. And I put the comma there because I’m a tardball… it should be a period.
Oct. 1, 2008
Good luck, it sounds like a great plan. I will point out there are several nice colleges in the Austin area (and one horrible one) that probably hire lecturers. why the comme in ph,d.?
Sept. 29, 2008
sounds pretty perfect. i hope you can make it work! but yeah, if you hate the research, it\'s not just getting the phd you\'ll hate...you\'d have to keep doing research forever! (publish or perish, y\'know.) the lecturer thing would be perfect for fulfilling your teaching appetite & leaving you time get involved with the other stuff you want to do. either way, i do hope you stay in town. (= maybe another department in engineering (or math or industrial distribution or whatever those other \"engineering lite\" majors are) would have lecturer positions available?