musings on music and life

July 10, 2013

gem from r/chemistry

Filed under: Chemistry — Tags: , — sankirnam @ 2:19 pm

Found this on the chemistry subreddit. It’s refreshing to find a realtalker there, and unfortunately the post has not gotten all the upvotes it deserves, because it’s not the sort of thing that people want to hear.

Choice quotes:

Don’t expect objective advice from ANY academic, as in many cases there is a serious conflict of interest between what is best for them vs. what is best for you. The undergraduate professors will love to see you go on to grad school…”

“As for the graduate schools, they’ll beg anyone with a 3.0 or better G.P.A to come (of course, some are more selective, but this is about the GPA where they start). You see, they have a dirty little secret that they don’t like to share with naieve prospective grad students: They DESPERATELY need English-speaking TA’s and RA’s (teaching and research assistants). […]  they need warm-bodied Anglophones to be TA’s for the undergrads in the laboratory classes. These babysitters don’t necessarily have to be brilliant or anything, just knowledgeable and attentive enough to keep the little meal tickets from blowing themselves up, etc.”

“Contrast this with professional schools, where enrollments are often limited based on the projected degree of marketplace demand for their graduates. Chemistry programs will take all they can afford. Preferrably, these new students speak English and are domestic citizens. However, as word gets around about the lousy job market, the homegrown people move into more lucrative majors, causing a grad student labor shortage. But that’s OK, don’t fix the problem. Instead, just import what you need from overseas: the cream of the crops from Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Mars, Andromeda, Cygnus X- 1….whereever”

“Whereas most people can expect to just go out and get a real job while they continue to gain experience chemists, after spending a good 1/4 to 1/3 of their expected lifetimes preparing to go to work, still are not ‘ready’ yet…they need more training. This is Bullshit, but that is the way it is right now, and the crummy job market for PhD chemists allows the exploitive academic-ACS-industrial complex (henceforth referred to as ‘The Man’) to get away with it…”

(spelling errors not mine)

I’ve discussed these topics here before. It’s a common theme in academia these days. Do we really need so many PhD-granting departments in the country? I don’t think so. It stands to reason that the more departments there are, and the more people graduate each year, the less valuable the degree becomes. What we need is an association that has oversight over the number of PhD-granting departments in universities nationwide and can perhaps leverage a certain degree of control over admissions (much like the AMA does for medical school). But alas, that may simply be a pipe dream, with the powers-that-be desiring to maintain the status quo…

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