Two Links

Here’s the latest poem by Oestreich. A good ending and an interesting reflection.

Here’s a new blog on how to get into an eager-beaver PhD program.

Here’s, apropos of researching programs, something I’m grateful for in all my fundamentalist education: my teachers were not people off on a career, they were not recruiting people avid about their careers, there was no mention at any point of a career at all. The world of academia is really obsessed with a career, about getting as much for yourself as possible. I’m getting turned off on all these programs and looking for places which conceive of the path of one’s life as faithfulness to a vocation. I have looked at chaps CV’s and scrolled through pages and pages of journal articles and thought: is there anything more inconsequential than a journal article?

It is enough to make me wish God had just called me to be a pastor. But he has not, and so I have to come to terms with all these academic things. If it is what one must do, one must do it. But I think of G.K. Chesterton and think about spiritual atmospheres. Are there PhD programs were vocation is more important than career? I’m going to put that question somehow on every personal statement I send out.

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5 thoughts on “Two Links

  1. I don’t know. I think PhD programs assume you’ve already found your vocation. Otherwise you wouldn’t be sacrificing 6-10 years for a PhD. What they want to offer is anything conceivable to help in that vocation. In my experience, they go overboard; but it’s out of goodwill, and not unreasonably so.

    Since the academic market crashed in 2008, any given opening for a paid teaching position will have 250 applicants. That includes everything from Yale to community colleges in Podunk, Nebraska. And that’s why many criteria other than just teaching skills become relevant. Hiring committees want to see how well you research and think — which is what journal articles are for. (Believe me, they’re not nearly as irrelevant as conference presentations, which you’re supposed to give 1-2 times per year! I don’t. There’s a limit to how irrelevant one can be.)

  2. Yes, I gather one has to work one’s way in and one does what one has to. I don’t have a problem with that. I’m glad you find the people are interested in helping you personally along as much as is possible. That’s a comfort. But then I think: is that how they would treat me though?

    There’s that lower view of things: I can do customer service for the rest of my life or perhaps do something slightly better. One of the main reasons I’m thinking about a PhD is that I think it may allow me to do something slightly better, perhaps more along teaching lines. I sometimes wonder if my unhappiness at doing customer service is just me being silly or if it really is that I am made to do something else. But that’s how I arrived at the decision: I feel like I’ll break if I do customer service for the rest of my life, and so I don’t really think I’m just being silly or picky about what I do. At the least, if I get into a PhD program it will give me a reason to quit my customer service job and perhaps the one I get after that won’t be.

  3. Well, maybe it’s a little different for me. I’m finishing my Ph.D., and I work in customer service. My job does not bother me because I don’t really care about it. Just as I don’t aspire to move up the corporate ladder, I don’t aspire to make a name for myself in academia. If either of those happen in God’s providence, so be it. What I care about is the church. The job allows me to be a member and to contribute to the well-being of the church. Nothing other than the health of the body really matters (Eph. 4). My Ph.D. allows me to teach in and write for the church. But your Ph.D. could afford you the opportunity to simply be a member of an assembly where you can contribute to the health and maturity of that body.

    Or, maybe I’m just off.

  4. Well, in my case, it allows me to teach Latin in the fall!!! So with learning Latin this summer and seeing about a GRE that ought to keep me from brooding on the job too much.

    I try not to care about my job, but I can’t–in all the wrong ways.

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