The Paper Chase: Why My Piece of Paper isn’t Just a Piece of Paper

Maygan Eugenie Forbes | 18 April 2017

I recently came across an article on Forbes.com that told the story of a contributor, Neil Patel, who has deep regrets over pursuing his degree. In this article Patel writes: “Don’t listen to them! It’s not worth it…college was a waste of time, a waste of energy, a waste of money, and a waste of potential.” He then goes on to give a small description of his degree, and his early ambition to become an entrepreneur (which, according to Patel, is a job title that does not require a degree). He then proceeds to list a set of substantial degrees that he believes to be worth the time, energy, and money of a degree. For the sake of my word count I won’t write out the list, but I can tell you now, as a Film Studies MSc student, I don’t make the grade according to Patel. Everybody’s different but without a doubt, every degree counts. But is the question here less about the value of a degree and more about a void in cultural experience? Are we missing out on great wonders, wasting our limited time by being a servant to educational institutions, regardless of what degree we are pursuing?

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99 Jobs but a Thesis isn’t One: Pitfalls of Trying to do All the Things

Robyn Pritzker | 6 March 2017

Whether we’re fully-funded, partially-funded, or simply wishing our way through monthly rent payments, most research students worry about money. If your fees are covered and you have a stipend, you’ll likely still be worrying about where to get a grant to go to a conference. If you have a hefty student loan and help from your parents, you’ll be wondering how you’re going to afford to replace your computer, which is six years old and can’t run any software you need for your project. Perhaps you have plenty of funds for yourself, but you need to help support your partner, your child, your parents, or someone else. Concern about how to pay the bills and make it from day to day are hardly unique to graduate students, but we are often pressured by very specific regulations and limitations about when and how we are able to be compensated for the work we do.

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Does soundbite culture harm research, or help it?

July 25, 2016 | Louise Adams

It is widely agreed that we live in a ‘soundbite culture’, one which prioritises short, punchy forms of communication. From the TED-Talk to the tweet to the emoji: quick and concise means immediate impact, and immediate impact means value in the present. But what should the relationship be between soundbite culture and the academy?

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Transferable Skills: A Fool’s Gold?

April 18, 2016 | Matthew Tibble.

A recent post on the brand-new SGSAH blog highlights a growing trend amongst those seeking to acquire ‘transferable skills’, namely, finding the component parts of your everyday activities in order to apply them in new fields and make them applicable to whatever jobs you apply for. As the piece points out, correctly, transferable skills are now essential criteria for success on the increasingly diverse job market. But this transferable skills trend also encourages a tendency to forget that, at best, these skills are supplementary to targeted, job-specific knowledge or experience.

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In Defence of the Dark Arts: Academic Resistance to the Fantastic

November 10, 2015 | Anahit Behrooz.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”– Dr Seuss.

Read any review of the Western canon and the absence of one particular genre becomes immediately obvious. Despite being one of the most dynamic and commercially successful genres in literature, fantasy is rarely taken seriously in the academic world. Iconic works such as C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels are frequently swept aside in favour of ‘serious’ works which are considered more suitable for literary, artistic and socio-political analysis. Why, however, does this tension between fantastic and ‘high-brow’ literature even exist?

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Going AWOL: From University to ‘Real Life’

October 31, 2015 | Sarah Hertz.

Hi, my name is Sarah and I am a grad school dropout. Well, not really — I’m actually a graduate of the University of Cambridge who decided not to pursue a PhD. Halfway through my Master’s in Renaissance literature, it began to dawn on me that life exists outside of academia. To the horror of my mentors as well as my former self, I developed a taste for tiaras, hip hop, and climbing the roofs of seventeenth-century colleges. Indeed, my year at Cambridge was primarily one of personal as opposed to intellectual growth.

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