Saturday, April 11, 2009

Will Study for Food

My graduate school applicant comrade David and I have been engaging in a series of conversations about the impact of the economy of grad school admissions. These exchanges begin as highly scholastic and evidenced debates (we even cite The Chronicle!) and quickly descend into panicked madness and wild speculation (much like our theses). In true form to our personalities, David believes that while a concern, the economy isn't bound to doom our dreams, while I am preparing for the graduate school admissions apocalypse by stockpiling Bernard Bailyn books and Ramen noodles.

To help you decide whether to roll with the punches or begin constructing a bomb shelter for your books, an excerpt of our recent thoughts.

David: Everyone's been saying there will be so many more applicants, but I don't know if that's really possible.
Me: You don't see how it is possible that thousands of unemployed people with no prospects want to go back to school?
D: It's not that, it's that they can't all be qualified. You can't learn a language overnight, you can't write a good SOP [statement of purpose] overnight, you can't just get a good writing sample or good LORs [letters of recommendation]...
Me: True.
D: Those people won't make it through the first round.
Me: But what about all the people who are qualified, but would have preferred jobs if they were available? All of those people might be in the applicant pool, but wouldn't have been before.
D: Yeah that is a problem.
Me: Also keep in mind that there are fewer slots. Even if the applicant pool hasn't increased dramatically the competition has. Fewer students = cheaper.
D: Won't schools just switch their funding structures instead of guaranteeing multi-year packages though?
Me: That does not help US, man!!! You better recognize!
D: I'll bet there will be a discrepancy between private and public schools. State schools are having a lot of trouble because of budget release delays.
Me: I'll bet that's what all those Brandeis applicants thought. Until Bernie Madoff stole their art museum and Deis went for broke!
D: Crap.
Me: There might only be one funny thing about this death cloud of an economy.
D: What?
Me: This.

Crap indeed, David. Now we need a bailout. Maybe we'll even get bonuses!


  1. Yes, except for the fact that you're from the Midwest, and Washington has a zero-tolerance policy regarding Midwest bail-outs.

    You are, however, attending the "right schools," so maybe in twenty years or so, you too will be eligible for a bailout.

    - Laura

  2. That might be fair given than Midwesterners frequently exhibit signs of a zero-tolerance policy regarding Washington more generally.

    Goodness knows if anyone needs a golden parachute it is humanities PhDs...