Please Stop Saying “Not Everyone is Suited for Academia”

Some real talk today, talkin’ ‘bout my feelings ‘n shit.

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[Rockin’ the Catskills today. You jelly?]

I am coming to terms with the fact that I am never going to be a “real” professor—although try telling that to the students whose lives I will enter in a few weeks’ time: their homework and grades will seem “pretty real” to them. But no, I’ll be a mere adjunct at a tiny Honors College inside a regional university in the Middle West (Gatsby style!), an “academic nobody,” as Lee Skallerup Besette has characterized the uncharitable views of some of her blog’s worst trolls.

Most days I am happier than I have been in many years about this. My long-term partner, whom I met my first year of graduate school (and whom I attracted precisely because I “didn’t seem like a grad student”) has remarked that since my postdoc ended and I moved back to St. Louis, that I’ve aged in reverse.

It’s true—there are some “Ohio wrinkles” I don’t see anymore, accompanied by a life in my eyes and a general dearth of the abject terror that lurked below each day in Columbus, like so many pollution-filled mussels on the bed of the Olentangy River. I dye my hair again, a glorious bottle-red, unleashed in all its pigment after years of Professorial Gravitas Brown—or, even worse, my natural color, which is now aggressively peppered with grey.

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[Who’s that sweet redhead who appears to be in her MID-thirties instead of her LATE thirties?!?]

If I was a disciplined and productive academic writer, cranking out journal articles and then finally my monograph—finished and submitted to the press this past May—then now I am a motherfucking locomotive. I have so much to write that I simply can’t get it all down. It’s like eight years of pent-up creativity that had been stuffed back by my own dismissals of anything other than Serious Scholarship as wasted energy have come geysering out, for better or worse.

A few weeks after “Thesis Hatement” came out and all I saw on the Internet was hate, hate, hate, hate and more hate, I lay curled on the couch in St. Louis crying, wishing aloud that I would just die in an accident already, something that wouldn’t be my fault, quick and painless, gone. I had lain extremely bare my own failure after seven years of sacrificing my health and my happiness, I had perilous few new prospects, and I had an Internet peanut gallery making sure I knew I had no future in anything. I wanted to die. One night, I made a list of my positive attributes: I started with “Usually Remember to Drink Enough Water” and was stumped thereafter. Although in my defense, hydration is IMPORTANT. (I know now, of course, that it was far from all hate, but like so many of you, I get eighteen adulatory evaluations and one critical one, and I commit the latter’s complaints to memory forever.)

Three months later, I feel like a different person, though I am drawn sometimes into spats about the vicissitudes of the job market and academe’s cult-mentality in general. Still, now I’m emboldened by my new identity as a curse-spewing postacademic hellraiser, straight-up high on the inimitable sobriety of being able to speak aloud the truths that so many people are still afraid to whisper. I’m emboldened by the simple fact that I live another life now,  one for which I am infinitely better suited.

So it’s true—I was not “suited” to academia. But I don’t want to hear that from anyone but me, and here’s why. First of all, I still adjunct, and because it is not my primary source of income and it’s two sections of the same course I’ve taught before, it truly is part-time and I like it. So when nonacademic friends  said, in attempt to make me feel better during the “die in an accident” stage, that academia cramped my style—well, I’m still a professor, so watch it. I think like a literature professor about everything; I bring my ability to scrutinize texts and take apart issues to everything I do. I may not act like Avital Ronell (shudder), but, to paraphrase the great scholar Young MC:

I had to go to college because I’m an intellectual
I only sleep with men because I am heterosexual

I’ve called myself the “intellectual’s anti-intellectual” as a joke, largely in reference to my equal proclivity to enjoy Bertolt Brecht and The Bachelorette, but I am a goddamned intellectual, so don’t tell me that such things don’t “suit” me, because they “suit me” just fine—my way.

I sew most of my own clothes to fit my body just-so. Because if this, I don’t know what size I am. I’m 36-28-40: me-sized. I’m exactly the right size to fill out the clothes I make to suit me:

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[Bridesmaid dress for my partner’s sister’s wedding, the Sultry Sheath from Gertie‘s New Book for Better Sewing. This wedding was on the day “Thesis Hatement” came out. Can you see the shellshock? And no, I didn’t walk the aisle in the Mickey Mouse flip-flops.]

I have done this with academia as well: I have taken the parts that “suit me”—teaching, reading critically, thinking philosophically, participating in critiques about the present and future of higher ed—and tailored them to fit my personality. And I have done away, for now at least, with the parts that don’t “suit me”:

Research, for example, doesn’t suit me right now. But not because I wasn’t good at it. I mean, I guess, like the hundreds of commenters on my op-eds who either didn’t read my CV or don’t know how to read a CV, you could say I wasn’t good at it, but that would be news to the editors at Modern Austrian Literature, The German Quarterly, and Northwestern University Press; to the Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften and the Austrian Fulbright Commission; to the DAAD and the American Council for Learned Societies; and to every department where I’ve ever been interviewed—and even some where I didn’t make the cut, but scrawled in handwriting below the form rejection was a missive insisting my writing sample was “nothing short of amazing” (I love positive academic hyperbole on the rare occasions I get it!).

I’m taking a hiatus from academic writing for one reason only: I am sick of spending years of my life squeezing out meticulously researched and difficult academic prose—which I then have to manipulate, sometimes four times over, to placate the needs of meanie-pants anonymous peer reviewers—that maybe, maybe, seventeen people on Earth will ever read, for the grand sum of $0. I’m not saying I don’t Believe In My Ideas, your Royal Highness FULLPROF Mayhew, I’m saying I want to write things that appeal to a wider audience.

You know what else doesn’t suit me? Going on the job market. Spending months crafting individual 70-page dossiers for each school because every search committee demands something different: a three-page teaching philosophy! A one-page teaching philosophy that pertains specifically to the courses taught by that department (but not THOSE courses you like, those are the purview of Mean Senior Prof Everyone Hates, and even displaying the slightest interest in them is enough to make the committee go nuclear on you)! A five-page research statement! A twenty-page writing sample (even though all of your articles are twenty-five)! A six-page abstract of the dissertation you finished four years ago! Your three most recent evaluations and your three least recent! Your ten most negative evaluations! And then pretending not to check that goddamned baby-killing Wiki, but then checking it anyway and watching as the interviews start piling in for everyone, it seems, but you. x4! x12! xEveryoneButSchuman! And do not get me started on conference interviews, because I have such exquisite bile for them that I think someone will pay me to share it. And the waiting. And the searing, wrenching rejection that “isn’t personal, so move on.” After four years, you know what? Don’t mind if I do.

And you know what else doesn’t suit me? Politicking, preening, ass-kissing; servility, sycophantism, cowardice. I’m not saying that every department ever is filled with, or requires, these things, nor that other industries don’t run on them. I’m saying that there is enough of this bullshit in academia that I’ve had my fill, and I would rather hang out with people who don’t treat a coffee date like a comprehensive exam.

And you know what else? Getting sneered at every time I let slip that I have any hobbies besides alcoholism. “How do you have the time to sew or watch TV?” I get, over and over, from people who spend three nights a week belligerently drunk. I have time, in part, because I write very fast, and in part because I don’t drink. I spend all day, every day, 100% sober, so I lose no time to either drunkenness or hangovers. But the thing is, for a lot of academics (not ALL OF THEM, Vim, so lay off), drinking somehow counts as scholarship, as long as you’re yelling about Kant and Kleist when you do it.

I am fully, painfully aware of the ways in which academia doesn’t suit me—but that doesn’t mean that I like it when FULLPROFS and others say this, because it smacks of that heartbreaking dismissal so many disillusioned PhDs get when they fail to become adequate replicants of their mentors: “Well, not everyone is suited for academia.”

What they mean is this, and this only: you weren’t good enough. You weren’t cut out for it because you aren’t smart enough. You failed. Academia’s only for winners like me, and you’re a loser. Academia is only for the best—like me. This is an unbelievably cruel thing to say to someone who already feels like a failure. It is inexcusably, searingly cruel, and I really wish that people would stop.

If I had been willing to squelch my natural “pluck” and remain servile, to lose my wonderful relationship while I moved, alone, from one Midwestern town where I didn’t know a single goddamned person to the next, to withstand (or even enjoy) departmental politics and conferencing, then academia would have “suited” me fine. I am coming to terms with the fact that those sacrifices weren’t worth it—but that is my journey to take, and my conclusion to reach.

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Some More of my Personal Failings, to Prove that the Meritocracy Exists

Today’s Post Format brought to you by Jean-Francois Lyotard and the Number “#”.

Today is the auspicious debut of my inspiration* William Pannapacker’s latest on the Chronicle of Higher Ed.

1) Digression! Last night I had a dream that my editor at the CHE emailed me to let me know that they’d changed their boilerplate contract, and the new version stipulated that the CHE retained copyright of everything I have ever written. Like, they were going to go back through this blog and reprint entries from 2007 under their masthead. It was weird.

*how soft is that focus on my man Peter Cetera? #StillMadHot

As usual, I completely agree with just about everything Pannapacker says. I’m a #Pannapackophant, yooguise (make this hash tag happen!). The only possible exception is that he is way more diplomatic about straight-up telling people not to go to graduate school, whereas in the face of #ArMOOCgeddon(TM) and the ongoing #AdjunctPocalypse (MAKE IT HAPPEN!), I am perfectly fine being painted as a disseminator of “blanket ‘Don’t Go’ advice.”

2) I am fine with this, because contemporary academe is basically the institutional equivalent of the Titanic, Costa Concordia and Carnival Dream all in one right now, and if you are rich enough to get a PhD and not care about that, then that just perpetuates the elitism and makes everything worse, so why in the eff would I encourage that? Forget THAT.**

**The only possible exception to this is the Tressie/Annemarie view that The Life of The Mind is an afterthought if you’re getting an advanced degree to fight institutional racism. In this case, postgraduate education without socialization is not only possible, but oftentimes the already-present result of being a marginalized minority in a near-exclusively WASPy profession (although the “blessing” of being subjected to constant institutional racism and therefore excluded from your department’s in-crowd and thus “luckily” immune to the cult mentality is only possible because of serious amounts racist bullshit, natch!).

A few weeks ago, when the #PackAttack (an all-Mennonite “Zack Attack” cover band) told me I’d be cited in this column, I was 

3) flattered

and then

3a) nervous.***

***Remember, in by far the most widely-read thing I have ever written, I misspelled homeboy’s name AND called his most famous grad-school column a “screed.” INSINCERELY, but words hurt, man. I’M SORRY! *sob*

I wasn’t sure which of my ignominious efforts would be featured–but lo, it turns out it was this unintentionally hilarious forum on the Chronicle Web site–which is dedicated, in its entirety, to the many things that are wrong with me. Ah, the trappings of “fame.” I’ve only skimmed it once, when I clicked on it unwittingly (my postac InterFriend JC linked to it and I trust everything she links), but it was highly edifying. You see, the reason I crashed and burned on the academic job market four years in a row has nothing to do with the systemic failures of the academic labor market, and everything to do with me being straight-up the worst.

5) I take serious issue with these folks, although not because they are a-holes who apparently have nothing better to do than go dick around on the CHE fora all day long (Some of them have thousands, thousands of posts. Talk about a “body of work”!). I take issue with them because their seemingly exhaustive list of my personal failings is woefully incomplete. Please allow me to add a few more important ones, which are, lest I need to remind you, far from the totality of the things hopelessly, deeply wrong with me. 

My standards for fruit are WAY too high. This is one of my better (or at any rate balder) half’s pet peeves about me. If a cherry is anything but its plump and tumescent Platonic ideal, I will wrinkle my nose at it, declare it “effed up,” and ask him to eat it. Last night I fixed myself a huge bowl of blueberries, only to be crestfallen that they were a little gritty, and thus I was left to pound them down with a frown. The idea of eating an apple between the months of January and August is absurd–those out-of-season pieces of shit are going to be half-rotten! And if a banana is either too green or too ripe, I will eye it askance until someone else in my family eats it. WE’RE DOING OUR BEST! Say the fruit. GIVE US A BREAK! No dice, fruit. Try harder.

I am great at acknowledging that food in the fridge has gone bad, but terrible at disposing of it. This is because we are not supposed to waste food (it’s too bad we don’t live in NY; we could just ‘recycle‘ the food–thanks Bloombito!) in a country (and world) where far too many of our brothers and sisters go hungry. I know this, and that is why when those two tablespoons of homemade knockoff Yumm Sauce are just sitting there STARING AT ME, I want to gouge my own eyes out. If I don’t have to deal with the spoiled food, then I didn’t waste it!

I have abysmally lowbrow taste in movies, and I am unapologetic about it. Yesterday I went to see This Is The End in the theater, alone–and I laughed MY ASS OFF. This week I am going to see it again. In the theater. Because I thought it was that funny. I’ve been a huge fan of Seth Rogen since F&G, and it always brings a tear to my eye that so many of the F&G crew have made it so huge despite NBC’s ludicrous decision to cancel the show in the middle of its single, absolutely perfect season. James Franco’s ability to make fun of himself in this movie is transcendent, and Franco as Franco might actually be one of his greatest performances to date. 

I have kept this little pile of random shit on the foyer table for like two months, for no apparent reason. My balder half (he shaves his head, he’s not got male-pattern baldness, though I’d love him even more if he did; I love baldies!) is getting really annoyed that when I moved in, I unloaded a bunch of deadweight from my wallet (so as to de-Costanza it), and some of it was stuff I didn’t necessarily want to chuck. YET. So I’m still deciding what to do with this stuff. Do I really NEED my Sephora Beauty Insider Card when I do most of my Sephora shopping online (and that is only twice a year)? How likely is it that I will return to Mama Mimi’s in Columbus to claim the free take n’ bake pizza I earned after a semester of Heteronormative Pizza Tuesday?****

****aka me attending spin class, then bicycling home from it, then getting a “spa pizza” (1/3 of the calories!) and downing it in four bites while I shame-watched The Heteronormative WTF Hour before staring my grading.

I leave half-filled glasses of water, coffee and seltzer all over the house. 

Sometimes I forget to turn the heat or A/C off when I’m leaving.

I eat too many cookies.

Sometimes, at spin class, when the instructor commands me to “ADD A FULL TURN!” I just add like an eighth-turn, and when she says “QUARTER TURN!” I just touch the knob. Actually that’s to prevent knee injury, so I don’t count it as a failing as such. My busted-ass knees are a failing, though.

All right, this should give the caring scholar-teachers of the Internet a lot more to work with, once they’re through discussing my parents and my general stupidity. 

For now, I gotta bust it because the coffee shop where I work is straight-up flooding right now. 

#Postacpocalypse

#ThisIsSeriouslyTheEnd

ICYMI: I Continue to Embarrass Myself in Public; A Meditation on the Joys of Low Ambition

I cannot imagine there are any blog readers who are not also my beloved Twerple, and so this is probably redundant, but I had an auspicious return to Slate this week with an article that has nothing to do with academia (hence the lack of 1800 vitriolic comments!), and everything to do with Before Sunrise and an ill-fated Eurotrip tryst I had in 1995. WARNING: there are sex parts! And that’s the obtuse version–if you want the really dirty version, I can write it here (though I probably won’t).

I had a ticket to a matinee of Before Midnight for today, but I ended up going to spin class instead (which was Operation Hell on Earth, but I guess worth it…), so I still haven’t seen it yet, but I’m planning on rocking this everything-proof mascara there (I bought Sephora’s “Lash Stash” last year and have like 900 teeny tubes of high-end mascara now–when I cut my hair short last year, I decided I couldn’t leave the house without doin’ mah lashes, because I AM VAIN, ALL RIGHT?), and some huge sunglasses, in case I get the Linklater Weepies.

Ambition, Or Something

Speaking of Linklater (and Slacker), this latest foray into amorphous memoir territory represents my current career strategy, which basically involves dabbling in as many things as I feel like, for exactly as long as I feel like.

I have never been a particularly ambitious person–I came of age in the mid-90s, in the Pacific Northwest, where there was a generational ironic detachment to sincerity (which is a prerequisite for ambition). In college I was far more concerned with being clever and cynical with my friends than I was in actually finishing Michael Kohhaas (which I now have, many times, some for fun)–and I loved it. I don’t know what happened to me in graduate school–I’ve tried to discuss it before with varying degrees of success–but sometime around 2003 I became really ambitious, and by the time I started my PhD I was ruthless. I just cared so much about being an academic, being a great one, and I ditched pretty much all non-academic pursuits.

In the three years I spent on the job market as a postdoc (the first one was when I was ABD), I told myself that it was completely acceptable to put my life on hold, and put all sorts of pressure on my personal relationships, if it served my career ambitions. 

And then my “career,” nascent though it was, tanked. At this point I’ve really gotten all of my angst about the job market out (I just submitted an essay to an e-book that the editors of How to Leave Academia are doing, and I’m in the process of being interviewed by the Graduate Caucus Chronicle, just for good measure), and now I’m just trying to put the pieces of my life back together, gently and gingerly.

The one thing I know for certain is that I do not want to be overcome with ambition again anytime soon. It’s not like on the Simpsons when Homer goes, “Well, Son, you tried and you failed. So the moral is: never try.” It’s just that I’m fucking exhausted! There is no way I can know what I want to do with myself right now. I have a lot of ideas–and enough backpay from my old job, and freelance work–to carry me through until at least 2014, so I am trying my best to enjoy my life in St. Louis–which is kind of perfect, because it’s a very easy city to live in, and one where you really don’t encounter much ruthless ambition, nor are you usually encouraged to have any yourself. 

So right now I am just being reeeeallly Eugene about my life (despite being in St. Louis, so without all the beautiful scenery, amazing food, and my family). I’ve got a bunch of aromatherapy sprays and oils (FOR SERIOUS) and my only career ambition right now is to, and I am not shitting you, keep myself open to all possibilities and trust that the right path for me will become manifest. I mean it.

So for now, I really hope you enjoy the 90s godawful Europan sex memoir. I’m just drinking an iced soy chai latte (FOR SERIOUS) and waiting to see what happens next.

THANK YOU, POSTACS!

YOU GUYS! “My Academic Metamorphosis” is #1 on the Chronicle Website today! Paywall and all! 5 years since the already-abysmal academic job market cratered (nearly) to the ground, the PostAc movement has gained steam and people are interested in what PostAcs have to say.

Look. I don’t need a jabillion vitriolic commenters (or my partner, heh) to remind me I’m not special (see “Oh. Her again” below–a sentiment with which I happen agree). It’s true. I’m not–I’m just yelling the loudest right this second. And I thank each and every one of you for listening.

Why should we keep yelling? Here’s why: Higher Ed is corporatized beyond repair (at least for this generation), but what IS possible is the destigmatizing of Alt-Ac careers. If I were put in charge of advising bright literature majors (a distinct possibility, by the way, as I am currently applying for several altac or hybrid-ac positions that involve academic advising!), I would, as the non-anti-Semite Ezra Pound to my substantially less-gifted and much-less-affected-accent-having T.S. Eliot William Pannapacker says, transcend the “go/don’t go” dichotomy, which is now, as he rightly points out (if you’re not following him on Twitter, you are missing out!), as “over” as Williamsburg. What the debate should be about is reimagining graduate study with diverse goals in mind–prep-school teaching, International school teaching, public school teaching (you do know that many public-school teachers abroad have doctorates, yes? and it’s not even considered weird!), journalism (AHEM!), regular-book-writin’ (DOUBLE AHEM), museums, government, nonprofit, grantwriting, start-ups, R&D.

But this also (and very importantly) requires a change from the top down, not just from the bottom up. If I’m an example of anything, it’s that even when all the information is available to them, grad students, simply by being interested in graduate study at all, are really impressionable, and prone to the seduction of magical thinking when they first get in. This is for a lot of reasons, but it doesn’t help that their program recruited them so hard that it had no choice but to brush the dismal academic employment stats under the proverbial rug. (I have DOCUMENTED PROOF of this, but it’s from a highly confidential source that I promised not to expose, so it will have to remain in my hot little hands alone for the foreseeable future.)

Then (here’s the Akademische Verwandlung Cutting-Room Floor): while in grad school, all around you are only examples of people in the club–because you’re taught implicitly (by not being introduced to any of them) to give adjuncts, lecturers and other contingent faculty a wide berth, lest it be contagious. In graduate school, your world shrinks down to you, your (very rewarding but also very difficult) work, your mentors, and your fellow grad students.

As you get closer to defense and start to present at conferences, your world grows…but only to other scholars in your own field–again, usually only The Fortunate. By the time you defend, these examples are all you know–so when reality (in the form of 100- or 200- or sometimes 1500-1 odds on the market) comes crashing in on you, no matter how much you think you’re girded for it, usually you’re not.

Graduate education needs to stop this cycle, by giving grad students the resources to explore their options from Day One, by reminding them of the job market stats every single day, by inviting them to shadow adjuncts for a week and see what the “life of the mind” is usually really like, and by changing the content of mentorship to include every career option possible. This involves–gasp–RETRAINING SENIOR FACULTY. This involves getting senior faculty to change their paradigm. This is going to be very, very difficult (judging from the reactions of many insiders to just my writing alone)–and, as such, it is going to require a shit-ton of yelling and screaming.

Organizing adjuncts? Awesome. Encouraging people to do all sorts of awesome jobs instead of adjuncting? EVEN. BETTER. So–and forgive the disjointedness of this blog, I’m on an AIRPLANE! IT’S THE FUTURE!!!–keep yelling, PostAcs. And thank you for the support.

I’m sorry… ‘JUST’ Teach High School?

One of the many suggestions I’ve gotten in the past few months is that I should try to teach high school. This is a terrific suggestion—and, in fact, I am in the process of researching how to do this, right this second. I am working with a kind friend who went from PhD to prep school a few years ago and has straight-up offered to do me a solid and mentor me—helping me turn my CV into a resume, arrange informational interviews with Heads of School, etc.

I’m aware that this blog has been kvetch central for the last few weeks (and make no mistake, I am still very broken from four years on the academic job market, and wouldn’t wish the anguish it caused on anyone), but I would really like to be taking my life in a positive direction right now.

BUT. In order to do it, I have a lot to learn—a whole new industry to learn about, with its own serious challenges.

And this brings me to—soooprize—a  kvetch I have with some of the suggestions that I teach high school. Not from friends, but from strangers, like this excerpt from a piece of hate mail I got a week or so ago:

At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, did you get into this job because you love teaching, you love German literature, and you love reading, researching, and writing about it, or did you get into this job because you wanted to find a magic bullet that will let you coast through life?  

DIGRESSION ANALYSIS (haha, get it, my Social Science homies?): That is what we in the humanities learn to recognize as a “false dichotomy.” I got “into this job” neither because I “love” German literature enough to do it for free (see my previous post on the “love” fallacy for why that is offensive), NOR because I want very mixed set of metaphors that will give me an easy life. I started the PhD in literature for the hell of it because I had no idea what else to do with myself—and then during graduate school I somehow metamorphosed myself into an academic Ungeziefer (which I write all about in my next piece for the Chronicle of Higher Ed, out any day now!). I was—am—good at reading, researching and teaching German literature, so I thought it would be a good job for me to have. “Love” was somewhat involved, but “magic bullets” had nothing to do with it. Granted, this particular hate mail was from someone who did not understand that I don’t actually think tenured profs work five hours a week and can’t be fired for any reason, so, you know. ANYWAY, here’s my point:

If it is the later (sic) reason, then you should consider teaching German in high school.  It will only take two years to get tenure, after which, depending on the school district, there is a very good chance, no matter how bad your performance, you will not get fired.  You will get summers off, health insurance, and a pension.  You will not need to waste your free time doing research, staying abreast in your field, or serving on committees.  Since you will not need to publish in peer reviewed journals, you will never be evaluated, and you can inflate the grades in your class by giving all your students A’s, whether they earned it or not.  No one will be the wiser.  Yes, you will be very overqualified for the job, but it fulfills everything you consider important, so maybe it is a better option for you.

There’s so much to unpack here—where do I even start? BULLSHIT OVERLOAD! CHAOS ON EDUCATIONAL BULLSHIT MOUNTAIN! All right, I will try my best.

Falsehood #1: I want a job that is easy. What am I, a millennial? Hahaha, buuuurn. (“Buuuurn,” by the way, is an expression that Gen Xers used in the 90s to convey satisfaction with the extent to which they…what’s the correct millennial term? I think it’s “pwned someone”? That’s not a real word. AAAANYWAY. I am 36 human adult years old, and have had one job or another—sometimes more than one at once!—since I was 15 and quit gymnastics and had my afternoons free. I like to work. I like to work hard. I wanted to be a professor because it’s hard work that I happen to find very rewarding.)

Falsehood #2: High school teaching is easy, and so I should “just” do it because as a PhD with college experience, I am obviously overqualified for it. This could not be further from the truth. That’s like saying: well, you have an MBA and experience at a hedge fund, so you are waaaay overqualified to teach high-school math. Both an MBA and I are “over”-qualified in subject matter (maybe?), but as my kind friend has recently pointed out to me very eloquently, subject knowledge is like 20% of successful teaching, max. It’s important, make no mistake, but more important is actually being able to connect with and inspire students to learn. And even more important is actually liking students in the age group you’re working with, and knowing a little bit about adolescent development! In this vein, both the MBA and I are tragically underqualified until we learn us some important and challenging new shit that we might not even be good at learning, who knows?!?

Falsehood #3: High-school teaching is not as prestigious or important as university teaching, and thus people who do it must suck more than college professors do. This one just gets a nice big /HEADDESK/ because it does not even deserve my time or yours. This is not how I feel, nor is it how anyone should feel, unless that person is an asshole. The end.

So…anyone out there teach high school English or Social Studies? Anyone transitioned from PhD to prep school, or PhD to public school? Advice? (Besides “try to get represented by Carney Sandahoe”…or “try to get represented by Cal/West”—they both rejected me out of hand).