grad school

Ph.Ds Data, National Science Foundation 2016

Sobering statistics from Laura McKenna at The Atlantic:

A Ph.D. who wins the rare job as a tenure-track professor earns on average about $60,000 per year, according to the NSF report. In contrast, post-doc positions—temporary research spots that are most common in the sciences and draw 39 percent of the Ph.D.s with post-graduation commitments at universities—pay a little over $40,000 per year. Incidentally, the median entrance-level salary for college graduates with a B.A. in 2014 was $45,478.

I love what I do and I know what my goals are, but I’m under no delusion about the difficulties involved in getting what I want.

On TextExpander

TextExpander has long been one of my most frequently used programs on the Mac – it allows for me to drastically cut down on the amount of time I spend writing common phrases, which is especially useful for quickly typing long foreign names in my field of work (history).

For example, for my paper on Malacca last year I set a snippet so

daq#

becomes

Afonso de Albuquerque. 

(Yes, I am horrible at Portuguese names). I also have longer and much more complicated snippets I use for journaling and writing personal reviews of media, as well as frequently typed pieces of information like emails or addresses.

However, Smile Software recently announced that they were transitioning the software to a subscription-only model which would cost the end-user $5 a month, or $60 a year, and also add a syncing service. Reactions have been mixed, and even a reduced subscription price for users of previous versions has done little to mollify miffed users, who have pummelled the iOS version with multiple 1-star reviews. Personally, I’m not happy about it either, not because I fundamentally disagree with software-as-a-service, but because the new features that come with the subscription pricing don’t readily justify its high price. Syncing via Dropbox has always been simple and consistent for me, and I don’t do long-form writing on my iOS devices so the included ability to use TextExpander on iOS is wasted on me. Lastly, there’s no academic pricing or version, which was a tremendous incentive for me when I purchased version 5 of their product.

I suppose we’ll have to see whether Smile changes their policy going forward in response to the torrent of negative feedback they’ve received. If they don’t, I will likely continue to use version 5 for as long as I possibly can, or switch to another application. It’s not like there’s a shortage of text expansion applications out there.

On the Poor Job Market for History Ph.D. Grads

Someone I know recently shared this report from Inside Higher Ed on the current job market for history Ph.D.s (emphasis mine):

“In history, the situation may be especially challenging for new Ph.D.s, because their numbers have continued to grow as the market has become so tight.

“Notably, for the first time in 41 years, the number of jobs advertised with the AHA fell below half the number of Ph.D.s conferred in the previous year. Approximately 1,183 new Ph.D.s were conferred in history in the 2013-14 academic year,” says the report on the jobs data, written by Robert B. Townsend, who oversees the Washington office of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Humanities Indicators Project, and Julia Brookins, special projects coordinator at the AHA.”

Okay, this was all very well and depressing, though I entered grad school with no illusions about the current challenging conditions of academic work. There was a glimmer of hope at the end, though:

“Areas where there are proportionately more jobs than are reflected in the new Ph.D. pool are Asian history (9 percent of listings and 6.6 percent of new Ph.D.s) and African history (4.4 percent of listings and 2.7 percent of new Ph.D.s).”

What I find amazing is that 55.9% of new history graduates study Euro-American history. For all the advances this field has made in inclusiveness and global-mindedness over the years, it’s still a pretty conservative field. I guess it was something I didn’t realize during my undergraduate years when I was still an East Asian Studies major.