Sunday, May 11, 2014

Last graduate class

I'm getting drunk right now on Saturday evening so it's a good time to schedule a post for AWC.  This came through on the telegraph today and I don't quite know what to think about it.  On the one hand, it's an expression of misery that academia inspires in all of us.  Or, it's bullshit.  Maybe both.  Honestly, I can't figure it out.  It's like some Andy Kaufman routine that you don't know when to laugh. Well, that's what happens when you read a blog moderated by somebody who has drank 10 beers already.  I leave it to you, my presumably more sober readers, to figure this out.  Let's have it out in the comments.

From Living in the Real World:

I am a full tenured professor. I have been told that I can have high standards in my classes. LOL Most of the folks in my graduate class are unemployable undergraduates from our school. But they can get federal money so... The majority are functionally illiterate and have never written a paper.

I have been to this rodeo before. The survival mode I have followed is to show up happy for my weekly three hour class and do nothing to indicate that they are stupid and unmotivated. I required a cut and paste 10 page paper that they presented to the class. Of course, all my requirements are mere suggestions. The 30 minute presentation was usually 20 minutes (including a Youtube video). The lowest grade I gave was a B for the course and had fantastic evaluations. I have one colleague that requires performance from students. The police arrested one of his students that threatened to kill him, etc. etc. I guess he is not with the program.

Some interesting facts: my university will hire some of those getting a master's degree in my area to teach our undergraduates; many of the students have severe psychological problems that are untreated; we only had two qualified applicants apply for one position and both turned us down.

I am two years away from a state retirement but will not be coming back for Fall semester. It just isn't worth it.


  1. Ugh. Before you throw away whatever benefits come with that official retirement, I'd suggest seeing if you can take medical leave on grounds of depression (unless you've had a serious illness, you've probably got years of it -- or at least a semester's worth -- socked away). You sound depressed. It may be chemical; it may be situationally-induced (the situation you describe certainly sounds depressing enough), and/or one may be feeding the other, in either direction. Either way, it sounds like you've fought the good fight for a long time, and should reap whatever rewards come with emeritus status (maybe you might still want your library privileges, or lab access, or your university email address, or even a hideaway office, should those be available, as long as it's very well hidden, perhaps on a little-frequented satellite campus?). So, whether you think of it as genuinely seeking help or playing the system for your own benefit (since it sounds like everyone else at your institution is doing the same), consider talking to H/R about the possibilities. Or maybe you could take unpaid leave (if you can afford it), and/or visit somewhere else for a year or two, or take on some behind-the-scenes administrative or other responsibility?

    On the other hand, if you're independently wealthy/have sufficient savings and never want to be associated with the place again, go for it. Life is short, and you surely have better things to do with your time than participate in this charade.

    1. I agree with CC here. Official retirement is so close and later on you may regret an early departure and foregoing the benefits. Plus, "they" will have won. Sabbatical?

  2. Clarification: When I say it's bullshit, I mean the situation, not the author. I'm not sure if that was clear enough.

  3. I think this is the saddest thing I've read on here to date.

  4. My significant other got to this point where it just wasn't worth the stress and aggravation and decided to quit. I am still really scared to do that b/c I enjoy job security (well as much security as I think I have). I hope you find something more fulfilling elsewhere. What's so aggravating to me is that this kind of educational model sets up for very intelligent, smart people fleeing instead of being nurtured.

  5. Oh come on, you wuss. Give them the hell they so richly deserve. You have tenure: USE IT!