If you are enrolled in a graduate degree program, have been enrolled in a graduate degree program, or are thinking about enrolling in a graduate degree program, y'all should read this one. The thesis (academics love their theses) is simple: Higher education is a ponzi scheme.
As a double-strength faculty brat (psychology and journalism, in case you were wondering), this is heresy. According to the family gospel, you Go Forth, Interest Yourself (morbidly) in something arcane, write a thesis on said arcana, score a tenure track job straight out of grad school, get tenure, then toil for 40 years before retiring (early) on a cushy retirement package. And, in fact, this is exactly what my folks have done.
But times change. And when I think about degree programs such as the MFA in creative writing, the MM and DMA in early music, and the PhD in musicology (all of which I've thought, fleetingly, of pursuing), I conclude that the casualness with which institutions of higher learning accept new students in these ever-narrowing, ever more harrowing fields is, well....criminal.
It's a pyramid scheme! Professors need students to justify their existence. Students -qualified only to replicate themselves- need more students in their turn. Everyone passes the buck! And the problem just keeps getting worse: more and more students, fewer and fewer jobs. A friend of mine just landed one of only 37 musicology professorships available worldwide this year (to hundreds and hundreds of qualified PhDs).
It's a one year gig. Visiting professorship, half salary. And she is a lucky, lucky dog.