Monday, June 6, 2005

My Future in Academia: Or, Why I Won't Become a Professor

Some time ago, I mentioned to someone that at least one of the professors at the local university campus had, prior to becoming a professor and teaching people about a field in which I work, held jobs in that field quite similar to my own.

She responded by enthusiastically encouraging me to become a professor too.

Honestly, though, I don't see it happening, for a few reasons.

Firstly, I can count all my college credits without running out of fingers.
Secondly, I am not known for my rigorous pursuit of academic excellence.
And finally, professors in this university system tend to be at the top of the field.

A quick read of the graduate faculty shows that we are blessed with quite a few graduates of places like Berkeley, CalTech, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Cambridge, and so on. There are only two people on the graduate faculty lacking PhD's - a librarian and a computer person.

The odds of me getting a PhD at all are slim, and the odds of me getting one from a school of as good repute as those listed above are, well, basically none.

So... I could take several years of my life and work on getting degrees, probably from some lesser school, and wind up as a professor, almost certainly at some little backwater college.

Or... I could stay where I am, maybe try to advance a little here and there, but remain a low-profile if somewhat vital cog in the works of a program that's widely regarded as one of the top 5 in this field, worldwide.

Fancy papers with my name on them versus being surrounded by the best and the brightest, with all the shiny toys?

The choice seems obvious to me.

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