As discussed previously, my most recent attempt at finding employment within the industry in which I was previously working did not pan out. It is as if the universe is telling me to just stay away from that career path and move on to something else (if I was to believe in fate as the only factor at work of course). Today it is difficult to change careers without returning to school in some capacity. Unfortunately, pursuing higher education demands forking out money for standardized testing, and one cannot really avoid this, particularly if one would like to have the option to attend school in the U.S. or Canada.
My partner’s recent experiences at a large, well-funded U.S. university has been an eye-opener in terms of the current state of the academic system. The employment prospects and practices at colleges and universities for today’s up and coming academics appear to be dismal at best. There is not a lack of funding for research in the United States, but there is a lack of publicly sourced funding, in comparison to what was available in the past. Despite these facts, the number of PhDs granted by institutions is on the rise, and it seems that the culture of academia appears to favor a more corporate mentality than ever before, where instead of profit in dollars, growth in terms of number of PhDs granted is academia’s currency. It would not be in the interest of a college or university to dissuade potential graduate students away from graduate school, now would it? Besides, there are so many foreign students willing to come to the U.S. for a PhD or postdoc, so why turn away cheap research labor?
Knowing this, I wrote the GRE* anyway because I want to have different career options, one of which would involve research, despite the crappy state of academic jobs these days. Knowing what I know, I would prepare myself to be able to do research outside the world of academia if I ever did decide to take on doctoral work.
Since we know life is uncertain, and given my continued state of unemployment, I am considering law school also as part of my future career leveraging strategy**. I also know that there has been a decline in those sitting for the LSAT in the last few years, especially in the U.S. I’ve read that the lower numbers have been attributed to outrageous law school tuition rates, fewer jobs available, etc. Recently, though, the number of people writing the LSAT has picked up again. With an improved economy I am sure more work will be available in the future.
All career options have their pros and cons. Being a Gen Xer coming out of the Great Recession, I have to keep an open mind about the future. I have to consider what I am passionate about, while at the same time I have to think about what’s practical for me, too. If I spent my time focusing on the cons of every career option, then I’d probably become a complete nihilist***, but like Rustin Cohle in “True Detective” – I am programmed to survive….
* supposedly ETS, the group that administers the GRE, is a nonprofit organization, but given the rise in graduate students and costs to take the exam, I am sure it cannot be an organization which is hurting for money, nor is it likely that other standardized test administration organizations are either, or the test prep companies for that matter….
** these are not my only motives for considering a career in law. If they were I would not survive law school, I’m sure.
*** not that there is anything wrong with being a nihilist, but I heard it’s difficult to make a living as one these days…