Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Master of Effing Around

Me: "Would you be willing to write a recommendation if I apply to Ph.D. programs?"
Roger: "Yes, but why in the world would you do that to yourself?"

My thesis advisor proceeded to sum up his Harvard Ph.D. experience: "I met some very nice people. I read some very nice books that I didn't need a Ph.D. program to read."

The latter point underscored by a conversation two years ago with Dr. Weaver when I mentioned my interest in a Spanish M.A.: "Don't waste your time. I could have read all those books on my own."

So why do I want a Ph.D.?

In no rank:

1. Greater "employability" in academia. I want to teach. I have found jobs that accept MFA's but many look for Ph.D.'s. (<--Lots of weird punctuation going on right there.)

2. I'd like to learn more about composition pedagogy.

3. I found a cool composition program that would allow me to pursue my interest in teaching ESL (the perpetual fallback career in the back of my mind).

4. I'd feel like a bad-ass as "Dr. Gallagher."

5. I don't have anything else going on right now.

Which leads me to counter with "Opposition to Ph.D.":

2. (1. being "I could read all those books on my own") Maybe I'm just afraid to pursue life as a writer.

3. A Ph.D. is no guarantee for a job in academia.

4. I'd also be overqualified for, eh, jobs in every other walk of life.

5. It might be boring as sin.

6. I may be hiding in school to avoid life (see point 2.).

Point 2. also brings me to sophomore year of college, when I went to the gym for a visit and my coach asked what I was studying. "Why do you need to go to college to learn how to be writer?" he said.

This was a valid point, and it's also a question that can be asked of why I wanted an MFA (as opposed to an MA, or even at all). What did I gain as a Master of Effing Around?

1. My sexy boyfriend/Flo Davies.

2. More experiences, more stories.

3. Awesome friends, both writerly and non.

4. Connections (we'll work it, Flosef!).

5. Teaching experience -- I want to use the word "valuable" here but cringe at its clicheness -- I'll say instead that my experiences teaching were fantastic and that I was taught by fantastic teachers.

6. I learned that I'm on the right path.

7. The ability to ask the right questions, and to turn those same questions to my work.

1 comment:

ChristinaMegan said...

personally, I'm probably the last person to give advice when it comes to college and careers, but if you want my opinion ... well, no, scratch that, i'll give it anyway. I think you probably are afraid to be in the real world. afraid that, without the excuse of still learning, you might fail. we are all afraid of that. on the other hand, having the title of "dr." IS pretty badass. and it's kind of like a latter, if you don't reach the top, then maybe you feel unfinished ... like you are just handing out on the 2nd step ...

i like effing around. i think i eff around alot.

p.s. my word is diani, which i find really funny!