Episode 15: The Doctoral Dilemma (00:56:21)
In an interesting The Economist article, The Disposable Academic: Why doing a PhD is often a Waste of Time, an interesting tale of the modern doctoral program emerges. Because our stated goal at The Zipline Show is to encourage students to do degree work or pursue careers in STEM, this obviously struck a nerve with us (even though neither of us has a PhD). Today we discuss the modern academic system, and what that means for you as a high school student, an undergraduate, a current graduate student, a person with a masters degree, a person pursuing a research degree, or even those of you that already have them!
First we describe the current academic landscape. If the goal of higher education is to raise your expected potential earnings, then is the current academic system equipped to train future workers? We don’t think so, instead, the scholastic method is meant to create academics and university researchers, not engineers and doctors (notice the pre- in front of most undergraduate disciplines). We explore an interesting picture of what a PhD is compared to the body of human knowledge that was created by Matt Might and discuss how this might impact your future career/educational choices.
After the break we move onto a new theory. If PhDs mean different things to universities and employers, perhaps there is a third area where you can excel in a doctoral program, after all– research and innovation is the primary purpose of a PhD. In fact one of our future shows will be the “Third World of Innovation”, related specifically to this. Our conclusion is that you have to think very carefully before making a choice between employment and academia (duh), but hopefully we have helped grease that thought process a bit in this show.
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Links from the show:
- The illustrated guide to a PhD
- The Disposable Academic (The Economist)
- Expected Lifetime Earnings by Degree
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