Tuesday, August 28, 2007

August 28th

I've noticed that I am not the only academic blogger whose activity level has dropped over the past week. Must be something in the water, or could it be the start of the semester? For me, it has been making adjustments to a new text while also coordinating a second section of my main course ... which required that all sorts of things be done by last week that I could normally do during the semester.

But I did need to post one thing today:

A very Happy Birthday to The Thomas.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Nerd Alert

After reading Chad's blog confession this morning, I could not resist putting this up. It is just so funny ...

... but we need something with legitimately nerdy (astro) interest below the fold ...

... a YouTube video of the Perseid meteor shower from last weekend that I stumbled on while looking for Weird Al.

Full disclosure:
I once spent an August grad school evening on a hammock in the back yard watching a beautiful display.

This time lapse of the Northern Lights shown below reminded me of the time I joined a group of friends for a bike ride on a very dark country road with only the Aurora for illumination and a bar as our destination.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Students and Professors

An article that profgrrrrl wrote while on vacation started a small whirlwind of discussion, mostly (based on my cursory read) by graduate students who have no idea what faculty do. One student seemed to think that tenured faculty are paid to teach (because that seemed the case at her undergrad school) and seemed oblivious to how a vast research enterprise comes about. Hint: It is entirely the result of the effort of the person whose name is on all of the grants that pay for it. That student did not say if she thought that her major professor got tenured because of teaching, but that would not surprise me either.

I was several years into graduate school before the real situation (not to mention the many ramifications of a job market where several hundred people apply for a single job opening) became clear to me, so I definitely don't think anything less of the students who shard my ignorance. However, I don't want them to stay ignorant of the realities of academic life.

I am not surprised that most students do not know that a faculty member with an excellent record (lets say 60 published papers, a Harvard PhD, a Sloan Fellowship, and enough prominence that I saw him quoted in our newspaper this week) is sometimes denied tenure because that record is not quite up to someone's fantasy of what the perfect professor should be at a top-10 research university, quite irrespective of his/her teaching ability. Simply put, a professor at a research intensive university is there primarily to generate money for the university and increase its reputation, not to teach undergrads or even graduate students.

I started a multi-part series of articles on physics jobs to try to help clarify this situation. (I'll link to the middle one, since it defines the different kinds of careers.) If you enter graduate school with a certain kind of career in mind, it helps to have a sharper idea of what those careers might be. I learned a lot, but not enough, from my mentors and friends - and then only about a few types of institutions. Toward that end, I was really glad to see Dr. Crazy's article on Juggling, listing the many things that faculty do and how those roles are radically different than the grad student version once you become a professor. She is writing from the English Department (I think), yet it could have been about physics. Profgrrrrl's follow up article dealt with some of the same misconceptions from her position in Complexification Studies.

I strongly recommend those comments to anyone who looks at part four, the part about tenure. That article was heavily biased toward the R1 end, because of the physics blogs that motivated me to write it. However, as I went to some lengths to point out in part two, most of the faculty jobs are at "comprehensive" universities that reflect the kinds of teaching load and tenure criteria that Dr. Crazy talked about. Her remarks are a nice counterpoint to mine, showing how the emphasis shifts away from an international research reputation toward a more local one as the nature of the college changes.

One of the comments came from a graduate student in the life sciences who thinks "people who have committed their life to teaching (because if you're a professor, that's really what you've done)". Uh, no. If you are a professor at any of a hundred or so graduate research universities, and quite a few of the several hundred or so colleges and universities that have a significant research emphasis, you became a professor because you committed your life to creating or discovering new knowledge and publishing and publicizing it through seminars and conference presentations. This is a form of teaching, of course, but not what the student meant.

Now it happens that I am in a job where I am paid to teach, and I am committed to it. Enough that I do quite a few teaching-related things during the months when I am literally not paid to do any teaching-related work, although part of the reason is so I can remain sane once the year gets rolling. This year will be a bit more intense than usual, given that I will be dealing with a major service load (I am on a major college-wide governance body) plus the usual challenges of an entirely new textbook.

I am committed enough that I have a virtual office hour every night around 10 pm for e-mail related to on-line homework, despite having to teach an early morning class. That is in addition to the time I am required to be in my office, so it is uncompensated time in our system. (Our salaries are fixed by contract, so there is not even any merit pay if one goes beyond norm, or well below it.) I'll post more about the expectations at a teaching job, and what is needed to get and keep it, when I get to part five of the jobs series. (I'll just say for now that one pleasure of reading Dean Dad is hearing about people with a 5/5/5 load. Sheesh. They are committed to teaching!)

Side Remark:
The life sciences are probably the one area (other than perhaps the humanities) where the job market might possibly be worse than it was in physics in the 1970s. The one thing those professors should be teaching is the reality of that marketplace and what you need to do to succeed, or even just survive, in it. Since they probably won't tell you this, you need to talk to a 35 year old post doc or one of the many research "faculty" about employment options in the life sciences and how to prepare to get what you want.

It is getting too late for me to wrap this up now, but I will add my dos centavos when I get a chance ... between wrapping up four syllabi and updating all of the materials I am responsible for as the coordinator of several classes. High ho, its off to work we go.

Some relevant articles from Inside Higher Ed:

There is also a lot that can be learned from Ms. Mentor (link is in the sidebar).

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Physics Jobs - Part 4 (Tenure Standards)

The previous article defined the different categories of academic jobs. This one is about preparing to keep one of those jobs.

College is fundamentally different from high school (a detail that is poorly emphasized in freshman orientation), and graduate school is fundamentally different from college (a detail that also comes as a surprise to some students). A post doc, pretty much required for most top-tier faculty jobs, needs to be significantly different from grad school if you want one of those few jobs. Finally, as important as it is to get a good faculty job, getting it is definitely not the same as keeping it.

When you apply for a job as a college professor, the letters of recommendation come from a few faculty that you know really well and who (hopefully) want you to get that job. When you try to keep it, the most important criteria might be whether your competitors think you would be granted tenure at their school, which is probably better than the one you are at.

I'll bet you did not know that. That is why I am writing this article.

There have been a number of good articles recently about earning, and not earning, tenure at various types of institutions. I've put a list of those links at the bottom of this article and strongly recommend that you read them. I am certainly no expert on this subject; no one person can be. My goal here is sort of pedagogical, so I am going to break down the requirements for tenure a bit more narrowly than usual to make my point. In the process, I think I am trying to frame the discussion a bit differently than is the norm.

  1. Outside letters of recommendation from non-collaborators, all of whom must be tenured faculty at institutions considered equal or better than the one you are at. You only get to choose a fraction of these people. They will be asked to write about the past quality and future promise of your research from a national and international perspective.
  2. Ongoing external (grant) funding for your research.
  3. Peer-reviewed publications of high quality, measured not only by the number of papers you publish, but by the journals you publish in and the number of citations your articles attract. Some places only want to see your top ten greatest hits, not the full list.
  4. Graduating a PhD student or, at minimum, an MS thesis student. Supervising undergraduate research would fall in this category if you are at a BS-only school that emphasizes that experience.
  5. Excellence in teaching at the undergraduate and/or graduate level as determined by peer review (other faculty who visit your class) and student evaluations.
  6. Service to the department, college, university, and the national physics community (which includes service with professional organizations).

These are listed so the first ones are of greatest importance to a top (or wannabe top) R1 program. Only the last ones matter at a Community College, so that sort of job search gets its own article in Part 5. Note that documenting all of this is your job, and requires a certain amount of record keeping over the 5 or so years that you are working toward tenure. This is something you need to get used to doing early in your research career.

Now lets look at each of these in turn.

1. Letters.

The requirement for outside letters is usually buried in with publications and the quality of your research, but this requirement can be the biggest concern for faculty at top schools. Yes, many of the letters come from a list of people you provide, but even your list has to identify people who have never collaborated with you. It can't just list the 3 people who recommended you for the job. More importantly, it usually cannot list anyone who is not at a "peer" institution, meaning they must be in a department ranked as high or higher than your own. You need to prepare for this from the start if you want to keep a faculty job at a research university.

How do you prepare for this?

First, forewarned is forearmed. This is something you can start working on while in graduate school. In the business world, it is called networking. Good thesis advisors (and often entire research groups) will train you to give good talks from day 1, and then push you out front at meetings. If they don't, find someone who will help you with those skills. But if you have an advisor like the one in this cartoon from Piled Higher and Deeper, there is no reason to go all passive and slide through grad school. There is absolutely no reason why the girl in that cartoon should not put a copy of her papers in the other prof's mailbox with a cover letter saying that her advisor told her about his book and that she thought he might find the articles interesting. Then follow up and make a collaboration happen.

It is your senior colleagues and your friends from grad school and your post-doc school that get you invited to give seminars and colloquia so that more people know what you do. However, it will be your job to be sure that they realize what you do is really important by giving a good talk. Since this section was getting too long, I have moved comments about talks and some related info to the bottom of this article.

Second, get at least one good faculty mentor as soon as you get that job and be sure you understand the policies at that university. This is definitely an area where the details are different at each school, and they vary significantly depending on the ranking of the university or college you are at. Most departments will have some kind of mentoring process in place, because they have invested too much in you (six years of salary, startup funds, not to mention the opportunity cost of lost time if they have to start over) to just ignore you for 6 years and then fire you. However, incompetence at mentoring can be as fatal as actual malice. Denial of tenure is rare, but the risk is far from zero.

Start thinking about where those letters are going to come from before the last year when you put your tenure binder together. Talk to senior colleagues elsewhere and ask for their honest opinion of your research, and what you need to work on to get tenure. (If they are not close collaborators, you might even find someone to put on your list.) If you are at a highly ranked school, they will likely only seek letters from the top 10 or 20 programs in your area. Most 2nd quartile universities want to be in the top quartile and will look there for letters. I know of a few cases where a person had to fight to get a letter from a place that had a quality research program in a specific subfield but was not a top R1 university.

Getting good letters is also one of many places where your choice of grad school can make a difference. Ditto for your choice of post doc school. However, getting a degree with enough fame attached to its name that you can get a great job offer will not guarantee that your name will rate good letters, nor guarantee that you can write a convincing grant proposal. You still have work to do.

2. External research funding (grants).

Not having a grant or three to support your research will be fatal at any R1 (the "very high research activity" Carnegie category). It is no surprise at all when someone is denied tenure at a 2nd quartile program because they do not have adequate external research support. They expect you to pay your grad students, a post doc, buy equipment, cover all travel, and support the college infrastructure through "overhead". My comments on the first item ran way to long to say anything much about overhead, but the sooner you learn how grants are put together, the better. You need to start learning the facts of life in grad school, and you need to do it yourself as a post doc. You must learn to play this game to keep your job.

Among other things, you can never have a shortage of new ideas. You also have to do what you say you were going to do, which means you have to have done enough work on that new idea to know that it is not a crazy one. Enough work that you can sell it as something that can be done ... and that needs to be done. Some faculty save a few projects for a rainy day. If you are going to work on something that will take a few years to pound through, it can't be the only thing you are working on. You can't let a current project eat up so much time that you don't get started on the next one.

You also need to sell your ideas to the people who will evaluate your proposals. Since they are, generally speaking, the same competitors who will be asked to write letters, some of the strategies in the first item will also help you here. People tend to believe your promises if your previous ones came through with flying colors.

3. Publications.

This is what you are supposed to know how to do after a post doc, but there are some details. At top programs, where you publish is as important as how many papers you publish. Similarly, single author papers and work that is identifiably yours (clear enough that all letter writers know it) are important. Some places even have a formal point system assigned to journals (5 for PRL, 4 for PL, 2 for Phys Rev, 1 for the others). Know the rules, and listen to your mentor.

Preparing for this starts in grad school but continues through the post doc years as well. If your thesis advisor does all of the writing, what will you do when you are the thesis advisor? Short answer: find a different job. Learn as much as you can about why certain decisions are made. Learn how to write a good response to a referee's report on your paper. Learn it all.

4. Research students.

You need them, and you need them to succeed, which means you need to come up with ideas with the appropriate scope for an undergrad, 1st year, MS, or PhD project. Good publishable ideas that can be completed in the available time frame. You may have to take the lead in getting the paper written and published. At some point, you will become a writing instructor for your PhD student.

5. Classroom teaching.

This has more importance the further down the ladder you go. We all know cases of poor teachers who are brilliant researchers, but it is less common than you might think. (Good researchers have to have good communication skills, so they can usually teach if they put their mind to it.) However, I do know one person who was utterly unable to communicate with undergrads and barely able to communicate with grad students during the first part of his career. He got tenure on his research, but turned into a very good teacher about twenty years later. That would not happen at a 4-year school where teaching is the life blood of the institution.

Because this topic is so important at Community Colleges, I will say much more about it in part 5, the final installment of this series.

6. Service.

You need to do this, and do it competently. You can't sacrifice the more important items to this particular task, but you also can't alienate the faculty who have the first vote on your tenure by being a jerk or unreliable when some task is given to you. This is how you show that you think of yourself as part of the institution. It can also be where you tell them that everything they know is wrong and that things should be done the way they were done at Xyzzy U. (Do I have to tell you that that is a bad idea?) Undergrad institutions put more emphasis here, particularly when it comes to advising student groups and clubs.

Info related to promoting yourself:

The importance of effective presentations cannot be emphasized enough. Good talks result in a buzz, and more invites to give that talk. One bit of advice I was given was to watch how a particular person put his talk together rather than following the talk itself (which was a variant of an excellent one I had heard before). If you know that a particular person gives a good talk, pay attention to its organization and the level of the material. You might notice that an audience likes to hear a few things that they already know, and see those things used to link together an argument that is plausible even to experts. This is particularly true at a departmental colloquium.

Blogs about tenure decisions

There is more than this, of course, so read the discussions and follow the links in the articles and out of the discussion area to other blogs.

  • Chad Orzel on the tenure process from the viewpoint of a liberal arts school, Union College. Chad, an experimental physicist, recently earned tenure and promotion to Assoc. Prof.
  • Mark Trodden on the tenure process from the viewpoint of an R1 university, Syracuse. (Syracuse ranks number 56, in the middle of the 2nd quartile.) Mark is a full Professor of theoretical physics.
  • Rob Knop on why he was going to be denied tenure at an R1 university, Vanderbilt. (Vanderbilt is ranked number 57, also in the middle of the second quartile.) Rob was, until recently, an Asst. Prof of Astronomy. His PhD degree is from Caltech (ranked number 5).
  • Sean Carroll who was dumped by Chicago and took a research job at Caltech in fall 2006. (Chicago is ranked number 7 in physics, Caltech number 5.)

If, like Sean Carroll, you seek tenure at a top 10 physics program, your department is going to ask people at Princeton, MIT, Berkeley, Caltech, Cornell, Illinois, Texas, UCSB, and maybe Yale if you would get tenure at their university. [I left out the number 1 program, Harvard, because that is where he got his degree. Some places will not take letters from your alma mater, others do.] I personally can't see where he ran into trouble, but it could take just one negative letter and one or two faculty at your school who don't like your research program (for any reason) for you to be in trouble.

Updated April 2009:

There was a really good article about the transition from post-doc to professor from Professor in Training that deserves a link here as well as in my March 2009 article about an "advice for a new professor" article in IHE. I gather that PiT is wrapping up the first year of research AND teaching. Quite the perspective. If you go there, don't miss the link to another good article on this general subject (what a post doc doesn't know). There was a lot I did not know as a post doc, which was the main reason I decided to collect things I had learned personally and from friends in this "jobs" series. I've written a bit more today in the blog, and there are a few other related articles (also linked in the "jobs" category) that I posted in March of 2009.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Grand Canyon Memory

Profgrrrrl is off visiting Las Vegas with a Grand Canyon trip on the side. She posted this picture

of a sunset on her blog this evening, along with a few others. (Go there if you want the link to a larger version.)

That brings back a particularly special memory for me. Let's pluck it out of the Pensieve.

I was at Los Alamos on a multi-week consulting gig. My parents were in California to visit my grandmother. Mother's Day weekend approached, coinciding (as it sometimes does) with my birthday. I heard an ad on the car radio for cheap one-way fares to SFO, no pre-purchase needed.

Idea. Bought a there-and-back pair and made arrangements with my uncle to pick me up at SFO and bring me to the church for Mother's Day Sunday. All secret. Flight left ABQ at dawn. A few balloons were being launched outside town and I settled in for the flight.

Then the pilot called our attention to what was between us and California: the Grand Canyon at dawn from about 10,000 feet up. The entire length of it, lit by the golden light of the rising sun. No photo can do justice to the image of it that still lives in my mind. Immense. Beauty. Orange. Not unlike the photo above, except for the vista that comes from being above it. Changing continuously as the sun pushed the shadows out of the canyon.

That alone would be quite a memory, but it is closely tied to the one of the look of joy on my mother's face when she saw who had just wished her Happy Mother's Day as they walked up to our group by the church. (And then asked if she had his birthday present!) A Mother's Day does not go by that we don't both remember that day.

I don't remember anything about the return trip.

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Mixed Messages

A couple things seen in the last month or so.

False advertising?

Are those "wireless margaritas" free, or do they cost $1.99? Either way, it is a bargain for such a high-tech innovation.

High class town?

From one of those homemade small-town billboards:

Homes of Xyzzy
Buy * Sell * Free Delivery

Something tells me that the housing in this town is more mobile than the population.

He is risen!

Sign in front of a rural church:

Jesus is WAZ UP!

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Physics Jobs - Part 3 (Types of Jobs)

My apologies for the delay, but I have struggled with how to organize this part of the series (preparing for a tenure track job) because there are two very different parts to it. I've decided to separate them.

The issue I've found to be problematic is that there are many different types of institutions with tenure-track jobs available to a person with a PhD in physics, and even some open to someone with an MS. They are so different, particularly as regards the standards for tenure (addressed in part 4), that we need to get these definitions straight.

These definitions are also crucial to understanding the data in the previous article, about demand for physicists in academia.

Types of Institutions

Community Colleges:
These are teaching faculty positions. Publications and research play no role in tenure decisions, only teaching. Research related to teaching is encouraged and useful, but it will not result in tenure being granted if you are a poor teacher. Apart from the usual service duties, the assignment is 100% teaching. As an example, I spend 10 hours per week in a classroom (two calc-based physics classes) and 6 hours per week teaching labs. Some of our labs are taught by adjuncts, who I supervise. I teach a gen-ed class in the summer. The trig-based class is taught by another faculty member. I'll discuss this category of jobs in Part 5. Types of classes taught vary widely depending on the nature of your main transfer school.

Four-year (BS only) Universities:
These are teaching and research positions, often with an emphasis on involving undergraduates in research. Teaching here includes upper division "majors" classes as well as introductory classes, but the majors classes are small. (At the smaller programs, they might be taught every other year just to get 5 students enrolled, but I have seen some outstanding PhD students come from such schools.) Most of the load is in service courses to the rest of the college. Quality teaching is essential for tenure at these schools, but research cannot be neglected. However, the standards for research are not what they are at top-quartile PhD institutions. Because this group includes mid-size state universities and small liberal-arts colleges, there is a lot of diversity. One thing to watch for are the larger, upwardly mobile institutions that want an "R1" faculty member while offering low-rent facilities and support. Conditions may be more predictable at the liberal arts schools.

Universities offering an MS degree:
This small group is a hybrid. Research and small grants are essential to provide appropriate training for students doing an MS thesis, but undergrad teaching cannot be neglected. Some of these schools are trying to move up into the bottom-feeder PhD category, and those will place much greater emphasis on research and grant funding in their tenure decision (much like the bottom half of the PhD departments). A good friend works at one of these, but I won't talk about them in part 4 of this series because they make up such a small group of jobs.

Universities offering a PhD degree:
There is a wider spectrum here than you might imagine, since fully half of physics PhD's are granted by the top 35 universities. Those, or the next group of 37, are the ones you probably know about. Only 25% of PhD holders got degrees from the 110 universities that make up the majority of "research" universities, so most persons getting a PhD are unaware of what those other programs are like or the pressures they operate under - yet these offer 40% of the jobs (about 2000 of 5000) at this level. It is common to hear people refer to the top half of these schools as "R1" institutions. This is the name given to a Carnegie classification that has been renamed "very high research activity". (Details are at the Carnegie Foundation web site, although you might want to read the Wikipeida summary as well.) Faculty at the top schools publish twice as many papers per year as faculty at the bottom schools, and their papers get cited three times as often as those from the lower group. Tenure decisions are made based on research productivity, grant funding, and the national and international reputation of that research. The table below gives you some idea of what is going on across this group of schools.

Summary Table

Data for the PhD-granting institutions is from the National Research Council study published by the National Academy of Sciences. See below for source links. Othere entries are deduced from the AIP data cited in my previous article. Only 146 of the 183 "PhD granting" institutions identified by the AIP are ranked by the NRC study, so I also include an entry for them with values deduced from the (rounded) AIP tables. I put a non-zero value in the PhD column because I know of at least one school not in the group of 146 that does grant 1 or 2 PhD's every year.

Dept class# Depts# FacultyCites/FacPhD/yr
PhD top354971.517.0
PhD 2nd373247.67.7
PhD 3rd372231.14.7
PhD 4th371423.92.2
unranked3618? ? 1?
MS only7210 ? 0
BS only5005 ? 0
2 year CC10701.2 ? 0

You can obtain a copy of Table L-7 in Excel format from this collection of tables in Appendix L. (Please note that this information is all copyright 1995 by the NAS and distributed by them for individual use. Explanations of the tables are in their $81 book.) If you are looking for tables in another format, for other research areas such as the humanities, or the tables that provide a summary across all research areas, start at the index of publicly available materials.

The data in the 1995 study reflect the situation in 1992-93. The previous study was published in 1982 (again based on surveys and data collected a few years earlier), so a new update is likely to appear in the next year or so.

Why the confusion?

I think this subject can confuse graduate students because it is rarely talked about by faculty. I only heard about it over beers with faculty while I was in graduate school, and became more aware of it when I was affiliated with an institution that was trying to move up in the ranks. It is also obscured by the fog of being in a school system that appears rather seamless to a student.

After 12+1 years of being taught by people with a BA degree (maybe a BS, MA, or MS in there somewhere), where the main difference from elementary to high school was the depth of expertise in certain areas, you probably figured that college teachers were pretty much the same thing but with even more knowledge and expertise. Odds are that you were in grad school before you began to realize that the job of a university professor is not teaching and that the real education of a graduate student does not take place in a classroom. That confusion about changing priorities is captured brilliantly in the Piled Higher and Deeper cartoons. Even then you may not realize that there are graduate programs and then there are Graduate Programs. I use the (outdated) term "R1" to describe that second group, the top tier of research universities.

Minimum requirements for a teaching job

I am at an institution accredited by SACS, but the standards are essentially the same in other regions of the country. (The regional structure is mostly just to deal with the numbers: there are 793 accredited colleges and universities in our region alone. That is a lot of work.) I'll use SACS because I am familiar with their organization and there is no point in linking to all of the others. The key document bit of information is their Principles of Accreditation.

The information on faculty credentials is in section 3.7 of the 2001 document, with the main information on page 25, which is page 29 of the pdf file. That same section is on page 13 of the 2007 document, page 16 of the pdf file, but the section on faculty credentials has been moved to a separate policy document. The current policy on credentials is linked from the bottom part of the page with all of SACS' policies.

Updated 2/05/2008:
There is a new Interim 2008 Edition where section 3.7 is found on page 16 of the document, page 20 of the pdf file, with the details about credentials still in a separate document (unchanged since December 2005) as noted above.

You must have an MS or PhD with 18 hours of graduate courses in the teaching discipline to teach any college course that can count towards a bachelor's degree. There are lower standards for "technical" courses that only count for an A.S. (workforce) degree, but those don't concern us here. For a physics job, the MS or PhD does not have to be in physics but the 18 graduate hours must be in physics. That is the minimum requirement for teaching at a CC or a BS-only college. An MS would be acceptable at other schools as long as that person did not teach graduate courses, but this is extremely rare.

You must have a PhD to teach graduate courses (meaning any course that can be counted for credit in an MS or PhD program). That is what makes a PhD the absolute minimum at most universities.

Links added Oct 2007

Chad Orzel wrote a very nice column on what they look for (or look to avoid) when hiring faculty at a small liberal arts college. I strongly recommend it as a detailed description of what they look for at a school in the BS category described above.

The topic of jobs in the "evergreen" disciplines (history and social science, humanities) and the reasons against going to grad school came up again in Dean Dad's blog, and that led me to some older articles of particular relevance in those fields. Since I sometimes send people in those areas to this blog entry, I thought I should add them here.

FYI, the "cycle of abuse" refers to faculty telling students that they really should enter or continue in grad school for selfish reasons: to have the warm bodies they need to keep their research funded and to publish more papers so they can get promoted or a bigger pay raise. Some will lie about job prospects just to keep students around, while others (like my major professor) will be quite up front about the lack of jobs from the first time they talk to you.

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