Degree of Separation?

Don’t make future salary your academic priority

By on February 2, 2011

“So, if you’re planning to get a Ph.D. in history, good luck finding a job.”

These not so encouraging words came from my journalism professor during his introduction to my first class of the semester.

With this abrupt and shocking statement, some students might unfortunately be rethinking their career decisions by putting their passions aside in exchange for something that offers a bit more revenue.

This immediately hit a nerve with me – a history minor. Taking two history courses this semester, I obviously have a significant interest in the subject, and have always thought how nice it would be to do research for a museum or possibly use my knowledge of my favorite subject somewhere down the road.

Well, I guess not. Thanks, professor.

Starting my second semester courses, I was excited to finally start taking classes in my major and minor, unlike the insignificant “gen-eds” that overwhelmed my schedule last semester.

It’s ironic because, according to my brutally honest professor, my minor won’t get me too far; but at the same time, these are the courses that mean the most to me. So much for being well-rounded.

I understand that maybe studying generic subjects and then expecting to find a relevant successful job is going to be very difficult in the current economy, but does this mean that we have to sacrifice what we really want to do for practicality?

It seems as if our professors are deterring us from our passions and dreams. What if there was a student in my class very well planning on getting a Ph.D. in history? I’m sure that they would be incredibly discouraged after hearing the opinion of my professor. You should be influenced to do what you want, even if it’s not the best career choice from a financial standpoint.

Life is what you make it, and if you’re content living on a smaller salary then go for it.

I would like to be making a lot of money wherever my career leads me, but I don’t want to (or won’t) settle for being miserable.

When we’re little, our dreams of being singers, painters, dancers, or even astronauts seem to be shot when we get older for the sake of practicality. The whole “reach for the stars” mentality turns into “reach for what employer will pay you the most.”

In the end, I know that we’re all going to need to financially support ourselves, but do it with integrity and happiness. Do it knowing what you’re doing is something you love, and where the money is just a benefit. Shocking, yes, but it’s possible.

Comments

About Christine Burroni

Arts & Life Editor
Email: artslife@quchronicle.com
Twitter: @ChristineBurr
Hometown: Yorktown Heights, N.Y.
Year: 2013
Major: Print journalism
Hometown: Writer for a high end magazine

3 Comments

  1. Ricky Williams' Bong

    February 2, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    i may be overreacting but i very well may have gotten up and left the classroom. an educator who sees the college process as a means to a salary is not somebody i would be able to sit and listen to for any length of time (prime example, i transferred out of the business school after one semester to become LUND, Liberal Arts Undeclared).

    considering the chronicle staff is filled with various communications majors, i wont take this opportunity to bash his degree.

  2. Sean Kelleher

    February 2, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    If all it would take to deter a person from the PhD track is the disparaging comments of a single professor from a field rather unrelated to their desired one, then they’re clearly not destined to succeed in the rigors of post-graduate study.

  3. Marcin Mazurek

    February 4, 2011 at 12:12 am

    Instead of focusing on the outrageous issue of a professor who is (totally) not your adviser having an opinion (Journalism means opinions), I’d like to focus on some of the uncovered portions.

    I respect and enjoy history and people who pursue it as a major, they have their plans laid out, usually. I assume you’d pick a major based on a combination of merits rather than throwing a dart at a list and taking it from there. As it has been stated before, they already have their mind set on their goal, perhaps the professor was trying to break the ice and it came out wrong, or perhaps we aren’t getting the whole discussion as nobody starts a complete thought with “So.”

    Then what about the people who really did pick it on a whim? Wouldn’t the professor be technically giving them a reason to take a second glance at their choice, thus doing them a favor? In start of an ISM course, a requirement for the school of business I encountered a chance to reconsider changing my major from IB to ISM as I had originally considered when I started applying to Quinnipiac, sometimes these pauses for evaluation can help a person instead of crush their soul in a cage of black despair that is being described here.

    And I wholly do not see how Kevin Bacon is in any way related to this article.