Thursday, March 22, 2007

Oh, The Humanities!

In a Chronicle of Higher Education article, the pseudonymous Thomas Benton imparts rather stern advice to those considering grad school. Benton paints a bleak picture of graduate life, and literally spooks students into staying away from grad school. Although the article is addressed mainly to humanities majors, I think it resonates fairly well for most engineering disciplines too. There was more than one cold shiver running down my spine as I read the article. Maybe it was the AC vent acting up, but then again, maybe it was the article.

While I agreed for the most part with what Benton said in his article, there were some parts I just couldn't relate to. Especially the part where he talks about grad student depression:
I hardly know anyone who was a grad student in the last decade who is not deeply embittered. Because of my columns on this site, a few people have told me how their graduate-school years coincided with long periods of suicidal ideation.

Suicidal ideation? Really? Now, I may not be an expert, but having spent the better part of six years in grad school, I can safely aver that never once have I had a suicidal ideation. No, sir. Not one. In fact, the only ideation I've ever indulged in has been purely homicidal in nature.

Ah yes, I have fond memories of those days. Sitting through boring lectures on seemingly endless Tuesday afternoons, mentally decapitating the lecturer. Ruminating about chainsaw massacres in the midst of a conference. Drawing caricatures of obnoxious TAs being dipped in boiling tar. Wistfully slow-roasting pesky undergrads on an open fire. Perfectly normal, cheery thoughts all. There might even have been the occasional reverie that bordered on the genocidal, but for the most part, it was just pure and simple homicidal ideation. None of that depressing suicidal ideation that Benton raves about. I wonder where he gets that from. It must be a humanities thing.


At March 23, 2007 at 1:13 AM, Blogger Vishesh Agrawal said...

Sue-side !!!!
It only happens on top of a water tank. I "dhanno" if our university had a water tank that was accessible ?
May be Mr. Benton has a different set of readers with a very different set of ideas, ideation and ideals.
For me, every minute of my stay at the grad school was worth it. A time well spent.


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