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Dr. Pannapacker has rebuked graduate schools for perpetuating a culture in which unattainable academic careers are portrayed as the only worthwhile goal, and for failing to level with students about their true prospects. With more transparency — if every graduate program published its attrition rate, average debt of its students, time to completion, and what kind of job its graduates got — undergraduates, he says, could make more-informed choices.

“Academe encourages students to think of what they’re doing as a special kind of calling or vocation which is exempt from the rules of the marketplace,” he says. Those who look to work outside the scholarly world are seen as rejecting the academy’s core values. “They socialize students into believing they can’t leave academe or shouldn’t, which is why they hang on year after year as adjuncts, rather than pursue alternative careers.”

A bad job market, too, tempts graduate students to stay even longer, since being out on the job circuit for more than a year tends to taint candidates.

As the number of tenure-track jobs shrink, Ms. Stewart of the Council of Graduate Schools says, the profession needs to address these failings.

“Humanities Ph.D.’s have focused exclusively on the academic job market,” Ms. Stewart says. “They don’t have anyplace else to go, or they don’t perceive that they have anyplace else to go.”

via The Long-Haul Degree (NYT)

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