I created that sign last summer when I began research for my masters thesis. Each date marks a pivotal point for my thesis progression and my life in DC.
December 1, 2009 was the deadline for my thesis rough draft.
February 22, 2010 was the deadline for my thesis final draft.
May 5, 2010 was the first day of my post-graduate life.
August 1, 2010 is the day I’m leaving DC.
Are you happy that you did the Masters Program?
I get this question often, and honestly, I’m never sure how to answer it.
After my first year, I was fairly certain that I wouldn’t continue on to get a Ph D in Philosophy or any Humanities field. Then I started to wonder if it made any sense to finish my degree then. Inertia and advice won out, and I continued on.
Three Reasons I Would Not Get a Ph D (in Humanities)
- Job Market is Horrible
- Wrong Focus of Research First, Teaching Second
- My Passion is in Psychology and People
Higher Education is becoming more and more of a business. Department budgets are often based on the number of students they can convince to sign up as a major. The number of students also going into Masters and Ph D programs are at a record high. For every open, decent faculty position, there’s at least a dozen, qualified Ph D candidates. Professors in the Humanities are also paid abhorrently for the amount of invested time, work, and often times, debt. Financially and career wise, academia just doesn’t make sense. All of my best professors told me that if there is anything else in the world that interests me then do that instead.
Large colleges and universities generally care about the number of credentials that their professors have rather than cultivating actually good teachers. In order to gain tenure (or just a decent salary), professors need to write books, get published, and gain fancy titles. There are almost zero resources in terms of how to become a better teacher or rewarding better teachers. I did a lot of research in graduate school, and I did not really enjoy any of it. It would take at least a dozen or more years before I feel like I have anything original to contribute. There are exceptions of course. However, the trend in every field is moving towards publish or die.
Finally, my heart was not fully in Continental Philosophy. I had no background in Philosophy and struggled my first year trying to make sense of things. My background is in technology and religious studies. You would think there’s at least some intersection between Philosophy and Religious Studies; nope. I’m very very interested in understanding the human mind. What makes people do what they do? How do you change ingrained habits? These were the questions that always interested me. Likewise, most of my thesis work both as an undergrad and graduate student were on identity formation. If I ever go back into school, it will likely be in a field related to Psychology.
Why I Am Grateful For My Past Two Years
However, as Hegel would say, every negation is a determination. Many times finding out what you don’t like is just as important on the path to discovering your true calling. I learned that I enjoy teaching and speaking in public even if I’m not the best at it right now. Along the way, I got to meet some excellent teachers and great peers and friends. I learned that I could immerse myself into a new field and thrive. I gained a respect for philosophy and changed many of my perspectives and beliefs. My Masters Thesis is a culmination of over 5 years of reflection on my identity and ethics. I jokingly tell my friends that in graduate school, I finally figured out my life philosophy. But I’m not really joking. I’ve figured out everything I needed to figure out at the moment and can take action to making my dreams into a reality now.
Finally, I learned a great deal in my extracurricular activities outside of the class. I grew by leaps and bounds in the past two years that I’m almost certain I would never have done if I stayed back in my hometown. There are so many more opportunities that a urban city offers. I become a better public speaker through ToastMasters, learned how to be more spontaneous through WIT’s Improv
There are several projects in progress over this summer and this next year. My primary goal, first and foremost, is to never stop growing.