J. Ho: Low stipends a central concern

Jennifer Ho writes:

I do believe that we need to think beyond the model of training students to replicate themselves in the image of their faculty advisors—that there have to be alternative career possibilities that we actively seek out and encourage for students and that the reality of job market situations needs to be addressed from year one of students entering a PhD program, if not before.

The issue is this: students nowadays who are in a PhD program are doing it because they feel a calling—a compulsion—a greater drive to want to pursue a scholarly topic. I’m assuming that any student entering a PhD program in this day and age has intellectual questions that demand to be answered—that they feel keenly about—which is why they are getting themselves into student debt (hopefully just student debt and not credit card debt). And such intellectual passion should be met with faculty mentors and advisors and administrators who can help students achieve their academic goals in the best way possible—which ultimately is going to mean giving them a better quality of life, which means more money. In other words, a central issue here is increasing grad stipends, which, curiously, was not mentioned in this report. Wouldn’t money be one thing that would substantially make a grad program experience for PhD students better?

Read the full post at Ethos Review.

Jennifer Ho is an Associate Professor, English & Comparative Literature and Director of Graduate Studies, English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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