Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 11/13/2010

So you want to be a professor? A laugh/cry video

By Valerie Strauss

Here’s a video that will make you and laugh and cry, this one entitled “So you Want to Get a PhD in the Humanities?”

The animated setting is an office where an optimistic undergraduate who dreams of becoming a college humanities professor asks her tough-talking teacher for a recommendation so she can apply to graduate school. The prof tries to bring her down to Earth in a conversation filled with funny but sad realities of higher education today.

Here’s some of the dialogue below. You can watch the entire video at this link :

Student: I am going to grad school in English.

Professor: No. I don’t think that is a good idea,

Student: Yes, I am going to be a college professor.

Professor: Do you see where I am teaching? We are in the middle of nowhere Nebraska. Do you want to move to the middle of nowhere to teach?

Student: I got an A on my Hamlet paper. I have brilliant thoughts about the theme of death in literature.... I got an A on my Emerson paper. I will write about him in my dissertation, and death.

Professor: What will you do after you spend seven to nine years of your life wasting away in a library trying to say something original about Emerson? ... You will probably end up as an adjunct, getting paid less than many of the secretaries and janitors in the school.

Student: I will work hard.

Professor: No health benefits. Does that mean anything to you?

Student: Money is not important to me.

Professor: Oh, my God. Who let you into this school? I’m tempted to throw you out of my office that I share with four other professors....

Student: I like collaborative learning.

Professor: How are you going to pay for graduate school?

Student: I will be a T.A. And they will give me free tuition.

Professor: A T.A. is slave labor for the university. You will teach 50 kids in one semester while reading thousands of pages a week and writing hundreds of pages for your jaded professors who are contemplating suicide daily.

Student: Being a college professor will give me the flexible schedule that best suits my personality.

Professor: No. Being a college professor means you will work on average 65 hours a week trying to publish an obscure article that nobody cares about in an obscure scholarship journal that nobody will read just so you can put it on your CV. You will serve on five to six committees at your school, where you will discuss just how much of your salary administrators believe you can do without and how many more classes you can teach just so they can increase the millionaire salary salary of the football coach....

Student: I like Robin Williams in "Dead Poet’s Society." I want to live a life of the mind.

Professor: Oh, my God. Humanities is not a movie script.

Oh, yes it is.

Follow my blog every day by bookmarking And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our Higher Education page at Bookmark it!

By Valerie Strauss  | November 13, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Higher Education, Laugh and cry, Teachers  | Tags:  college professors, college recommendations, getting a phd, grad school, graduate school, humanities, studying the humanities, video, you tube  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Schools field teams for Quidditch World Cup
Next: Teacher: Data, my new dirty word


Unfortunately, this is quite accurate.

Posted by: jlp19 | November 9, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

The head of my English department at William and Mary told the graduating seniors essentially the same thing a couple of decades ago. We were outraged at his cynicism. He was right.

Posted by: aed3 | November 9, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I feel that I am gettign the smae response from family and friends for wanting to be an English teacher. I can't say that I don't agree though. I am extremely nervous that I either won't find a job or will not know what I am doing. I guess I will have to figure that out.

Posted by: cookn21 | November 9, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company