The New York Times posted an interesting article titled “The Repurposed Ph.D.” I myself have gone back and forth about pursuing my doctorate. I was a Mellon Mays Fellow as an undergraduate. So, getting a doctorate has been on my mind more or less since I was nineteen.
As much as I love English, by the time I graduated someone couldn’t pay me to write another paper. When I got my Master’s in English Education four years later (with a one year break between undergrad and grad school), I truly enjoyed the program. I didn’t feel as anti-writing a paper as I did by the graduate program’s close as I had when an undergrad.
When I went to turn in my final paper, my favorite grad school professor asked me flat out, “You know you need to get your doctorate, right?” I looked at him and said, “I know.” I attended three different information sessions before I left the States, but I never even bought a GRE test prep book. My heart, in some ways, just still isn’t in it.
This article gets at some of my same hesitations with pursuing a doctorate. One, I don’t enjoy traditional research. Two, I have no desire to add something new and profound to the “body of knowledge.” I think there’s plenty out there for me to learn as it is. Three, I’m not interested in becoming a tenure-track professor.
Yet, I absolutely adore the life of the mind when it’s rooted in some practical application. One of my mentors in college, for instance, never intended to become a traditional professor with her Ph.D. Rather, she’s a community activist.
It’ll be interesting to see if or when Ph.D. programs (and expectations) get restructured how higher education overall will be impacted.