The trap of “academia”

Anne Helen writing on her Substack:

Looking back, Chris realizes he was in a pretty vulnerable state when he showed up at the admitted students day for the Master’s of Arts Program in Humanities (MAPH) program at the University of Chicago. 

Today, tuition for one year of Master’s Study at the University of Chicago is $62,640. The cost of living, supplies, and additional quarterly fees during that year force most students to borrow an additional $30,000, if not more. For this story, I spoke to more than two dozen students who’d either attended or declined offers from MAPH or its “sister” program for social science grad prospects, MAPSS. A handful of scholarships (covering no more than half of tuition) are available, but significant loans are the norm. According to the most current data available, the median debt taken out by an MAPH graduate, not including undergraduate debt, is $65,471. The median graduate salary of those who took out loans, two years after graduation: $37,928. 

I was aware that international students are cash cows for the Universities. Though, they have extended the tentacles around the domestic students too- as evidenced from the student loans and getting stalled with worthless degrees that won’t get you a job. Every University is pushing the idea around PhD. It has also made me stop and reconsider this idea- a PhD confers only writing skills (and possibly research skills). Thanks to this blog, I have written more than several dissertations combined. I have made seamless workflows to automate the discovery of “literature” and then assimilate them quickly. I think it has been a wonderful investment of time.

Here’s something interesting:

Back in 2011, a University of Chicago faculty committee charged with studying the programs found that “in terms of both size and the quality of students, these programs had become a source of considerable and unacceptable strain”; the chair of the committee conveyed “faculty dissatisfaction with the admissions process” which “led some to adopt a skeptical view of [the program’s intellectual legitimacy.” The committee recommended shrinking both programs. And yet, since 2015, MAPSS enrollment has grown by 146 percent — and MAPH has grown by 165 percent.  

It still remains a mystery to me – despite the obvious shortcomings, why are students still applying for the academic buff?

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