Sunday, October 1, 2017

PhD Prostitutes

A couple of days back, I saw the following article being circulated on my social media feed:

This is not new to me. I have read articles on the increasing amount of student debt in the United States. Students leverage up to pursue a degree in order to live the American Dream. Once they have gotten their coveted degrees, they are faced with the sickening realization that this is not enough. Masters! PhDs! You need MOAR to edge out against your competition.

But are post-graduate qualifications really worth it? It depends on your major. In certain spheres on the internet, humanities and social science majors receive a lot of flak for their choices. They pay hefty tuition fees, acquire critical thinking skills (which is debatable), and receive job offers that do not commensurate with the tuition fees they paid. Instead of receiving prestigious job offers in Academia, they are left destitute as interest upon interest of debts pile on.

Articles, such as the above, highlights the cracks of the humanities and social sciences fields. They provide people with a glimpse of the dark underbelly of said fields. I remember trying to find the contact of a US researcher in my previous job. What I got when I threw in the researcher's name into Google were not academic publications. Instead, it was an interview where she shared that her temporary contract jobs in Academia paid her the same amount as her previous job as a grocery store helper. Minimum wage! Now with the added burden of paying off her student debts!

Even in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields, there is this difficulty to secure jobs for PhD holders. There is a thread in the BIGS World Facebook Group where Azrael of The Tale of Azrael commented the following:

So what am I to do, seeing that I am certain that research is my calling? Bide my time and build my funds. Think, and think again of the ramifications of each decision. Build up my dividend stream in a deliberate manner. And (Very Important!).

(Eh? First time Unintelligent Nerd recommend against personal development/professional upgrading? Must be he "sot sot" liao!)


  1. Hi UN

    Where got sot? Yield of investment lei.
    In that field maybe yes, u need masters and phd to edge out people. But look wider.

    In the education faternality, there is a lot of masters now. And I am still just holding to ...

    Luckily, at the front lines, a lot of things still count. Because the disconnect is getting stronger these years between those in ivory tower and

    The human capital is what is important now. Dun rush into investment. The best durian picking session is when durian has fallen.

    It is joke that people think 30% cash is waiting for Depression / crash. I know of verteran holding 90% cash.

    Dun rush.

    1. Hi SI,

      The takeaway I got from the article and my personal experience is that it requires delicate balancing of one's personal finance. Overtip the scale too much in one direction has its consequences.

      At least in Singapore, it's still not too bad.....yet! With the yearly increase in tuition fees, sooner or later paper qualifications will be the domain of the rich only.

      Don't make me emo lah, lol. I know Rolf, Uncle CW, and you are holding large amounts of cash.