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Struggling to be Positive

This week I will turn 42. And, like too many of my friends and colleagues, I will continue to be underemployed, earning much less than $1000 / month since June.

People have told me, "At least you have a Ph.D." I'm supposed to feed "better" because I've expanded my horizons.

How does that help matters? How does $40,000 in debt help me? My academic "success" hasn't translated into anything. Nothing. Zilch. Zero. Actually, it has resulted in negatives -- lost time, substantial debt, stress, and overall bitterness. What was the point of more than seven years' worth of graduate education?

When I started graduate school, the talk was of the coming wave of retirements in higher education. Some of those retirements did come, but new full-time instructors were not hired. Instead, universities are scaling back where possible.

I don't blame colleges and universities. They need graduate students and I'm sure most educators want to believe education will expand, despite the history of the last half century. Cuts are the norm, not the exception.

So, what's next? I have no idea. What I do know is that I'm tired. I hope I will locate a job. I want a job. But, things are tough right now. It is hard to explain to some employers why someone with a Ph.D. is applying for entry-level jobs. I simply want to earn some money. Not even a "living" so much as enough to help pay some bills.

After the holidays, my wife and I will try to develop a new plan. Never give up, but sometimes you have to change course.


  1. I was once told, "You're a good man, Clay. Trouble is, we don't need any good men."

    It was said in jest, but was also true. I wouldn't have fit in there at all.

    All I can say is, "Good luck, I hope you find your niche."

  2. This CS is what happened to me after my PhD as well. Though I was able to find a well paying job as a "quant", ultimately my talent brought me to the wall of my abilities and I was forced to become another under employed person with AS.

  3. While it is tough for everyone, I recognize it is more difficult for many people with disabilities / challenges. I receive "Thank you, but..." letters every few days from universities and other potential employers.

    Thankfully, I have a great wife and supportive family. This economic downturn will end, and I hope it ends soon.


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