It can be very easy to complain, whine, gripe, lament, bemoan, or generally be negative. It can be tricky to be complimentary, grateful, happy, pleasant, pleased, amused, entertained, or generally laughing all the time. However, I think the trickier pursuit is a worthwhile challenge to undertake, so I like to play devil’s advocate in ongoing debates about the merits of doctoral pursuits. I’m not denying that pursuing a PhD is hard work – lots of things are difficult, and a PhD can certainly be one of them! But anything worth doing is usually at least a tiny bit fun (depending on how you define fun) or, hopefully, rewarding in the end. If what you’re doing is not fun, and doesn’t appear to have any long-term benefit to you, then it might be wise to reconsider what you’re doing. I’m particularly lucky, because I research a lot of really fun things.
With that being said, I’d like to recognize student debt (in the US, Canada, and elsewhere! Those places are just closest to my heart.), the need for an overhaul of the PhD system currently in place, and the paucity of well-balanced meals for many students. I’d also like to offer a tip of the hat to encouraging mentors, thriving on-line academic forums, supportive scholarly communities, teachers everywhere, students who pursue their education as ardently as they shop for Ramen noodles, and others who persist in the fact of seemingly insurmountable odds like budget cuts, anti-intellectualism, grade inflation, skyrocketing tuition, university corporatization, and bureaucratic nonsense more generally.
For those seeking non-academic jobs, or jobs of any kind, there is hope, help, advice, and support (sometimes in the form of amusing anecdotes) to be found across the internet (and, of course, in book stores)! It’s good to see the conversation happening around the value doctoral degrees, because I think it is helpful to be self-reflexive about your career path, no matter what stage you’re at. Plus, any debate can be interesting one to follow when so many articulate people are contributing to it!