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Thread: Grad school!

  1. #21

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    What others are saying about the job market for history in academia is right. Although an MA is what's required to teach history at a community college, there is such a glut of PhDs in this field that in general, you won't get a job as a full time history teacher at a community college without a PhD. And depending on what's going on in your region re: available labor, you may also not be hired as an adjunct with just an MA.

    Getting a tenure track job with a PhD in history at a university is not promising. You need to make this choice with your eyes open to the reality of this job market. And it wasn't good even before the recession - now it's awful.


    Others have mentioned the specific classes you can take to get yourself a reading level of French or German. Seriously, do not discount this idea, if it means you can apply to more programs. Here is one example of such a graduate reading course, so you know what you're looking for:
    http://ceregistration.newschool.edu/...&utm_term=null

    Again, you are not looking to become fluent in the language. You are looking to pass the reading exam. You say you already speak some French, so I bet you could perhaps try to get the appropriate reading level in that language, and get there fairly quickly. Check the unis around you to see if any offer such a class - a graduate reading course in French.

    Get a GRE prep book and work through it. Try to boost your GRE as much as possible.
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  2. #22
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    Lanie--

    I am currently pursuing a master's in history through an online program. My intent is to teach at the community college level.

    In my area, community college academic transfer programs are growing faster than the schools can staff them. I am in my second semester and there has not been a day that the nearest community college is not advertising for adjuncts in history and the humanities. It is not a dire prospect everywhere. As to all the naysayers about being an adjunct...I was previously a high school teacher. I can make more as an adjunct right now at the local community college if I taught just three classes. They have four campuses within 30 minutes of where I live and one is only ten minutes away.

    The downside of being an adjunct is that you do not get benefits. In my case, my husband's job has excellent benefits for both insurance and retirement and the higher wages for me would mean we can contribute more to that retirement program or to my own IRA.

    Another thing to consider is getting a secondary teaching certificate along with your masters. This would set you up to teach high school AP or IB coursework on the high school level or to teach dual credit courses at a community college or in a high school. A sub teacher I met recently has a master's in history. He is semi-retired now and just teaches a dual credit course at the local high school. Before that, he taught three community college classes as an adjunct and the dual credit course and made substantially more than teaching high school full time and said he had about 250% less stress.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    I am in my second semester and there has not been a day that the nearest community college is not advertising for adjuncts in history and the humanities. It is not a dire prospect everywhere.
    The question I would have for Lanie is whether she is willing to move to teach. If she wants to remain in SoCal, the job prospects in her area are extraordinarily dim.

    Because of the budget crisis in CA, public colleges/universities in CA are facing unprecedented cutbacks. This means entire departments are being eliminated, discipline-wide hiring freezes, salary freezes, etc. I can't emphasize enough how difficult the job market in academia is in CA at the moment. I know quite a few faculty members teaching in various liberal arts departments at every level of higher education in CA, and they say the changes they are seeing in the job market are only a taste of what is to come, and they will likely be permanent.

    Now if Lanie is willing to relocate to places like ND, MT, and NE, then the picture isn't quite so bleak. But in SoCal? Bad, bad, bad.

    I would even say not only is a permanent faculty position in history near impossible at even the community college level, it would be close to impossible at even the high school level. Cutbacks in education mean you have PhDs in the liberal arts/social sciences applying for high school teaching jobs--and not getting them. At least with a PhD, you would be five years out or so before hitting the job market. That would give some time for the economy to recover. But in a couple years? Very bad timing.

    As far as adjuncting goes, typical pay is between $1500-$3000 per course. Some places pay only $500/course (not per/hour, but per course). I haven't heard of someone being able to adjunct more than 4 courses/term at any given institution, so you'd be looking at an annual salary of about $24,000 max (unless you found work at more than one institution).

    Because of new rules being implemented with higher education accreditation bodies, there are limits to how many hours can be taught online before accreditation becomes jeopardized. In order to get around that, many schools offer hybrid courses where part of the course is online, and part is in-person. That means, though, you have to be located nearby where you teach online. So again, location becomes an issue.

    Anyhow, I don't mean to discourage at all, but I think it's also important to go into things with eyes wide open

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by agalisgv View Post
    The question I would have for Lanie is whether she is willing to move to teach. If she wants to remain in SoCal, the job prospects in her area are extraordinarily dim.
    I think that would depend mostly on whether Mr. Lanie will be able to transfer somewhere else for his job. It's certainly not impossible - a friend and her husband are in the process of moving from SoCal to Kansas City, but they were sick of the sky-high rent and the fact they would never be able to save with their student loans and the salaries they'd be able to get in their current fields.

    You have to sacrifice much for the nice weather.

    A grad student in my lab is graduating and is having a REALLY hard time finding a postdoc lab in the Bay Area where her husband is going to work. Luckily the job he's likely to get pays well, so if worse comes to worse she joked she'd be a housewife with a PhD.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by agalisgv View Post


    As far as adjuncting goes, typical pay is between $1500-$3000 per course. Some places pay only $500/course (not per/hour, but per course). I haven't heard of someone being able to adjunct more than 4 courses/term at any given institution, so you'd be looking at an annual salary of about $24,000 max (unless you found work at more than one institution).
    Community colleges here are on a quarter system. So there is a possibility of teaching four terms in a year, not two. And I would assume that even those on a semester schedule have summer terms upping the max number of courses an adjunct could get in a year.

    They are also heavily emphasizing/pushing dual credit enrollment opportunities for local high schools and the state department of ed requires a certified secondary teacher for those courses to be allowed for high school credit. The mix of a masters in history and a teaching certificate will make me among very few people qualified to teach that coursework. That is why I suggested that Lanie look into the possibilities that adding a secondary teaching certificate might open up.

    If money is not an issue for her to go back to school, then she is probably not dependent on whatever income will be available when she is finished, either. So why not pursue something you will enjoy even if it isn't a great financial windfall? Money is not everything. We are much happier now that I am not working a high stress job from hell even though my monthly income dropped by about 80% and we have to mind every penny now.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    Community colleges here are on a quarter system. So there is a possibility of teaching four terms in a year, not two. And I would assume that even those on a semester schedule have summer terms upping the max number of courses an adjunct could get in a year.
    IME, schools on the quarter system adjust for that in teaching load, so maximum course load would be three courses per term instead of four. Usually summer enrollment is far less, so I've never heard of someone teaching a full load over the summer--be it quarter or semester.
    They are also heavily emphasizing/pushing dual credit enrollment opportunities for local high schools and the state department of ed requires a certified secondary teacher for those courses to be allowed for high school credit. The mix of a masters in history and a teaching certificate will make me among very few people qualified to teach that coursework.t
    That may be true in NE, but not in CA. And Lanie lives in SoCal.
    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    why not pursue something you will enjoy even if it isn't a great financial windfall? Money is not everything.
    True, but Lanie did say at the very beginning:
    Eventually, I would love to teach, preferably junior college--or if I get a PhD, at a university.
    If that's someone's stated goal, and they don't want to move (I don't know if that's the case, but if Lanie doesn't want to move for a grad program, I'm not sure how likely she will want to move to work in academia), then I think it's appropriate to point out the employment realities of where she now lives.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    If money is not an issue for her to go back to school, then she is probably not dependent on whatever income will be available when she is finished, either. So why not pursue something you will enjoy even if it isn't a great financial windfall? Money is not everything. We are much happier now that I am not working a high stress job from hell even though my monthly income dropped by about 80% and we have to mind every penny now.
    This is kind of my way of thinking, but I don't have a hubby to bring in money. So, I'm thinking that I'd rather move someplace else than have a job I hate. Which state do you live in? And which other parts of the country is it more realistic to think that a teaching job is a possibility? (Agilsgv is right; the economy, the state budge, and the prospects for teaching are horrible here in California, while the cost of living is astronomical). One idea I've had in the back of my mind is to get a master's in history and a teaching certificate, but I'm guessing I'd need to get the teaching certificate in the state where I was going to teach? Is that right?

    I'm pretty sure I'd really like being in a master's program and I don't mind having to mind my pennies, but what I don't want to do is end up in a situation where I've spent most of my money getting a degree and I wouldn't be able to find a job afterwards.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allskate View Post

    I'm pretty sure I'd really like being in a master's program and I don't mind having to mind my pennies, but what I don't want to do is end up in a situation where I've spent most of my money getting a degree and I wouldn't be able to find a job afterwards.
    I'd say the odds are greater than 50% that is exactly what could happen. Sorry, but that's a fact. Graduate school in the social sciences, humanities or even some hard sciences is becoming the provence of those who don't have to use student loans to go to school and don't plan on having to support themselves. Some fields are better than others, but overall, this is not a really good time to look toward jobs in academia. A small percentage of people will of course get jobs, but they will have attended prestige universities, published like crazy and met the right people. Or get lucky. And if you are one of those lucky few, you might be appalled at how low your salary will be or where you might end up having to move for the job.

    I'm fortunate that my paycheck does not come from the University our program is affiliated with as the faculty hasn't had a raise in four years. They aren't happy about it, but they also know there are 3-4 people who would happily take their job if they left.
    Those who never succeed themselves are always the first to tell you how.

  9. #29
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    sorry for the OT, but having just been accepted for a PhD in the Humanities (in the U.K.), it's quite depressing reading that... just for curiosity, one of my lecturers told me nowadays for Humanities research Canada is the country with more opportunities: what do you think?

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    Quote Originally Posted by rfisher View Post
    I'd say the odds are greater than 50% that is exactly what could happen. Sorry, but that's a fact. Graduate school in the social sciences, humanities or even some hard sciences is becoming the provence of those who don't have to use student loans to go to school and don't plan on having to support themselves. Some fields are better than others, but overall, this is not a really good time to look toward jobs in academia. A small percentage of people will of course get jobs, but they will have attended prestige universities, published like crazy and met the right people. Or get lucky. And if you are one of those lucky few, you might be appalled at how low your salary will be or where you might end up having to move for the job.
    My boss, if asked to answer honestly by a prospective grad student, would say not to go for a PhD and to go for an MD because at least people will pay you. He would never recommend anyone be a PhD if their goal is to get a job. There are NO jobs for science PhDs even here, and the postdoc moved from Paris because it's even more dire over in France.

    The NIH budget is being cut drastically so there's a real possibility that our lab will be disbanded in a year if we can't find any more money. This is when my decision to make a career change is looking better and better! (That and the fact I'm a natural-born saver!)

  11. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Allskate View Post
    One idea I've had in the back of my mind is to get a master's in history and a teaching certificate, but I'm guessing I'd need to get the teaching certificate in the state where I was going to teach? Is that right?
    Not necessarily; a lot of states have reciprocity, or you can take a test to become certified in the state where you would like to teach.

    The problem with teaching social studies in high school is that this is where all the coaches are. So if you can't coach, the prospects are slim for you to be hired. It still irks me that the super-talented student teacher we had got passed over for a dolt who could coach.

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    I had this reply typed up and then my 'net died when I tried to post it.

    Anyway, eh, teaching would be awesome, but mostly I want to go back to school and learn more about stuff I loved learning about. Yeah, I'm a dork. If I could teach, that would be fantastic. If we could move, that would be great too, but it's not an option at the moment. (Florida kindasorta is, but only if my folks move back there. Lots of family there and a few are faculty at UF and FSU, ha ha.)

    I'm lucky in that I don't need to work right now, but I'd love to, and considering we're planning on kids I thought maybe a community college position would be helpful. I figure I won't be getting a job any time soon in anything I interned with (political offices, campaigns, and so on), so why not go back to school?

    PrincessLeppard, really? Though I went to a high school with no athletics... That is so freaking bizarre.

    Thanks to everyone again. I sent out some emails to UCSB, CSULB and my adviser in college to set up a time to really sit down and discuss what my viable options are. Also, thanks for the links about reading language requirements! I'll check it out. I grew up around French and then took four years of it in high school and junior college, so I figure I'd pick it up fairly quickly, even if I haven't touched it in years.

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anita18 View Post
    My boss, if asked to answer honestly by a prospective grad student, would say not to go for a PhD and to go for an MD because at least people will pay you. He would never recommend anyone be a PhD if their goal is to get a job. There are NO jobs for science PhDs even here, and the postdoc moved from Paris because it's even more dire over in France.
    As an MD graduate I agree that is true, however medicine is such a demanding career and pretty much a way of life that it's the worst idea ever to pursue the degree if you only want a quick buck. There's other grad school degrees where you'd be earning real cash far faster. Medicine does level out itself in the end once you finish your residency, but you will be a poor man for many years such as myself.

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    Lanie, have you checked into local historical societies or museums? They are possibilites for learning for certain, possible employment and volunteering (which might help with future employment). If you and your husband can afford for you to go to grad school just for your own personal growth, that would be fantastic. I hope things work for you.
    Those who never succeed themselves are always the first to tell you how.

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    Yep, rfisher, I have. I've applied for various jobs at a Presidential museum here, volunteer and paid but nothing's worked out yet! I try to check it out every week to see if there's something new.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PrincessLeppard View Post
    Not necessarily; a lot of states have reciprocity, or you can take a test to become certified in the state where you would like to teach.

    The problem with teaching social studies in high school is that this is where all the coaches are. So if you can't coach, the prospects are slim for you to be hired. It still irks me that the super-talented student teacher we had got passed over for a dolt who could coach.
    Social Studies was the place for coaches for a long time, but I think that is starting to be less true. I just say that based on the people I worked with in social studies and a conversation I had with a college supervisor for one of my student teachers, as well as attending several national seminars for history teachers that were very low on coaches and full of brilliant teachers. So I may be way off.

    And there is the matter that not every state requires head coaches to be certified teachers so then the coaching issue is not as big of a problem for job seekers or education in general. I wish Nebraska would change that and create a non-teaching coaching certification. Let people have a day job they are good at and coach on the side. I know people who have done that in other states who were very successful coaches and would have been bad teachers.

    And whoever mentioned the school without sports....where is this? I want to teach there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    And whoever mentioned the school without sports....where is this? I want to teach there.
    That was me. I went to a magnet arts/technology high school. No sports teams; if you wanted to play a sport you played on one of the other high school teams.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PrincessLeppard View Post
    The problem with teaching social studies in high school is that this is where all the coaches are. So if you can't coach, the prospects are slim for you to be hired. It still irks me that the super-talented student teacher we had got passed over for a dolt who could coach.
    Wow. I think it would be so frustrating to teach in a school where athletics were more important than academics.

    Quote Originally Posted by sailornyanko View Post
    As an MD graduate I agree that is true, however medicine is such a demanding career and pretty much a way of life that it's the worst idea ever to pursue the degree if you only want a quick buck. There's other grad school degrees where you'd be earning real cash far faster. Medicine does level out itself in the end once you finish your residency, but you will be a poor man for many years such as myself.
    Yeah, but I think Anita was talking about a science Ph.D.. Ph.Ds and post-docs in bio are time-consuming and don't usually pay much. My college roommate changed her mind about going to med school and got her Ph.D. instead. The stress is different, but she practically lived in the lab and eventually stopped doing research because she was tired of it. It can be very hard to get your own lab and get funding. Ten years out of college, she was at Columbia still living like a student. And she had been an academic standout. It's got to be even tougher for most others.

  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    The downside of being an adjunct is that you do not get benefits.
    That's a big one, but there are a lot of downsides to being an adjunct.
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    That's a big one, but there are a lot of downsides to being an adjunct.
    It depends on what you want and where you've been. I've talked with a lot of people about the prospects as I made my decisions about what to pursue.

    I'm not looking for a stellar career with tenure and all that business. I want to teach a little and make what I made before or a bit more. Teaching three classes a term where some of the students are motivated to be there (as opposed to none) in a system with lots of adult learners going back to school, where parents have less involvement, there are no sports, and your supervisor isn't sitting on his sorry ass in the office planning his football offense and not doing his job, where you have two or three courses to plan for as opposed to five or six, and no one is making you feel guilty for going home to have dinner with your spouse instead of staying around to watch a game of some sort.....quite frankly, that is a fantasy world for me.

    And not a lot of people are looking to stay at the community colleges here--instructors are passing through on their way to something else. If I want to stay, I have a greater chance of an actual full time position at some point.

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