Just a job?

February 25, 2009

A question arose in another venue.

Is graduate school attractive simply as a job? Without any particular motivation based on training or credentialling for a future job that uses the PhD?

Minimum wage is what, $21K or less depending on the state. I’ve seen grad stipends in the $25-28K zone. Job conditions are damn attractive compared to some minimum wage jobs, opportunities for slacking and even moonlighting abound.


6 Responses to “Just a job?”

  1. microfool Says:

    Yes, it is a good job. At my midwestern university, I was able to slowly pay of my undergrad loans ($12k) and a car ($5k) over my first 3 years, then got married, and had a kid. Health care was totally schweet compared to the real world. Although I make 2.5-3x what I made in my last year of grad school, my take home after taxes, housing, and health insurance is essentially the same. I do have life insurance now, though, which is a comfort.

    Given a lax advisor, is is certainly a workable holding pen for figuring out wtf you want to do with your life. The few grad students I heard of who were asked to leave were of the type that rolled in around 11, read the Onion, ate lunch, chatted everyone up, and called it a day ~3pm. I knew of some layabouts that managed to pull 10 year stints before finally graduating by just effing showing up and working a little bit. Of course, it’s a life with little control, but also little responsibility.


  2. BikeMonkey Says:

    microfool has a point. We’ve all seen the chowderhead slackers who barely seem to do anything for years at a time. It can be a pretty sweet gig, actually. And even the worst offenders should be able to at least pick up a Master’s degree before they finally bail sans PhD…


  3. BikeMonkey Says:

    NRSA stipend for predocs is $20,772 by the way.


  4. NeuroPostdoc Says:

    I’ve had a couple of labmates like this–it might be great for them, but it’s truly demoralizing for the rest of the lab…


  5. drugmonkey Says:

    NP, I was sort of wondering about more than slackers. What about setting out to so a fair job of it… But just a job. No particular desire to get that next PHD requiring job.


  6. NeuroPostdoc Says:

    Well, one concern would be that they might find themselves overqualified for the eventual job that they do want…why hire a PhD that you’ll have to pay more to do the job someone without one can do? So while it may be a good short term plan, they may have screwed themselves over in the long run.

    I have a friend that has recently found herself in a similar position having just finished her PhD, she’s are either overqualified for jobs she’d want that don’t require a PhD or underqualified for jobs she’d want that require a PhD (i.e. needs to do a postdoc)–none of these jobs are research positions. So now she’s doing a postdoc even though she doesn’t really want to continue in research.


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