I live in a college town and recently worked for 5 years adjacent to an academic community. My whole family is made up of professors and my church is a “College Church.” One question I have been constantly asked is: “Are you going to get your PhD soon?” (And by constantly I would say about 3 times a month for 5 years).
After considering it for a few minutes, here are just 25 of the many reasons I’m not getting a PhD right now:
25 – Because so many of my best friends have PhDs, and I trust them in that domain to “carry the torch” better than I would.
24 – Because people keep asking me about it in a high pressure crazy-eyed way that implies you are assimilating me into some army of unknown ambition–and so I’m starting to think getting a PhD might in fact be a cult where everyone worships dead Europeans who wore waistcoats.
23 – Because I don’t want to be a professor, and contrary to claims, that’s what a PhD is for.
22 – Because my graduate studies were a chore and a bore and I couldn’t wait to finish.
21 – Because I’d rather read what is readable.
20 – Because I’d rather write what is readable.
19 – Because everyone else in my family has a “Dr.” in front of their name–so they got it covered.
18 – Because I’d rather become rich and/or famous and give money or lend fame to a university and have them give me an honorary doctorate for it, thus truncating the terminal degree process to a 90 minute ceremony where I bore the audience made up of people who actually worked for their degrees with a speech on the subject of how awesome I am. So far the whole “ministry” thing has been inadequate for me in terms of riches and/or fame. I will need to think on that more. If I had a PhD perhaps I could untie this gordian knot and teach others how to gain riches and/or fame whilst being relatively poor and unknown myself.
17 – Because whoever coined the phrase “terminal degree” had no sense of irony–and thus was probably an academic.
16 – Because I haven’t found one specific field I want to educate myself out of relevance for.
15 – Because I’ve found that I never cite dissertations in any of my work–even those I’ve read. Correction: especially those I’ve read.
14 – Because I’ve taught many adjunct classes and that’s where most teaching work is heading because of the economy–and I don’t want to have a PhD but only teach adjunct, which is like a sad story in a country song, only with less twang and more long words.
13 – Because I don’t accept any adjunct teaching offers anymore because for some reason I’d rather spend my free time writing semi-defensive but somewhat humorous lists which may in fact be offensive to people with a higher IQ than me who will will show their displeasure, at some undetermined point in the future, by referring to my work as “uncultured,” “maladroit,” or even “cursory.”
12 – Because 99% of academic publishers are a hair’s breadth away from vanity self-publishers [source: my opinion].
11 – Because 67% of American faculty members are on a one-year contract, which, considering the coming collapse of student debt including the reversal of academic dependence on what amounts to a government welfare program with dignity, a one-year contract offers less stability in than one might like, considering all the debt and time a PhD requires in preparation for it. [source: Chronicle of Higher Education].
10 – Because I like academic people (I spend nearly all my time with them), but I like being the “insider-outsider” with them.
9 – Because grandiose footnotes are overrated and quality prose is underrated.
8 – Because a PhD doesn’t mean as much as it used to.
7 – Because the last time I looked at microfiche I convulsed into seizures.
5 – Because I’d rather work in a field where “comp” means “compensation” not “a pass/fail high-risk verbal exam where scary people ask me about their most obscure hobby horse items that they taught me 5 years ago and only pass me if I regurgitate it just the way they taught it.”
4 – Because I can’t imagine taking 4-5 months off every year. Seriously. Professors always ask you in August: “So, what did you do this summer?” As if I was 11 years old and spent the month of July building a tree fort. My answer: “I worked this summer.”
3 – Because when 12 academic buddies come together to publish a book it means 12 mothers read the book instead of just 1. Yes, the top tier academic presses are the most impressive things in the world. I’m just saying that considering the whole field I believe I could manage a sustainable mid-range academic press in 3 hours a week with WordPress website and a free Lulu account from Amazon.
2 – Because I started a life-long learn at your own pace charter school and I am not only the principal but also the only student who has matriculated and I never plan on graduating or wearing a fancy cape and beanie again.
1 – Because everyone I know who is ABD needs to take a lot of prescription pills to survive it. (If you have to Google ABD count yourself amongst the lucky ones that have never experienced it.)
If you happen to be ABD or struggling in the education world and the aforementioned list has been humiliating and depressing to you I have some words of counsel:
a) You’re smarter than me and I admire you, remember that this website is cursory, maladroit & certainly uncultured and above all it’s “on the internet” so you can ignore this.
b) You can do it–don’t give up! You’ve come this far, don’t turn back now! You’ll make it! Just type the dang thing!
c) Keep taking the pills.
So, how about you, why did you get a PhD, why are you going to, or why aren’t you? Disagree with one of my numbers above? Cite it and argue with me if you want. Did I miss a few reasons? Add them to the list.