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I want to be a professor. Am I crazy?

Jessie Micales jmicales at facstaff.wisc.edu
Fri Oct 13 07:51:27 EST 1995

>Yet.. I'm 31.  My partner and I want to start having children.  Prospects 
>for universities in Canada look grim -- all seem to be hiring less 
>people, and hiring them as sessionals instead of tenure-track profs.

>I've spoken to several professors on campus about this.  They generally 
>say that yes, things ARE grim, and I should be REALLY SURE I want to do 

>So.  I'm seeking further opinions.  I'd love to hear from any of you --- 
>as a group you seem to have some insightful perspectives.

These are bad days for science.  I would recommend that you follow a subject 
1) that you are absolutely fascinated in, and 2) that can give you 
employment outside of academia.  Certainly psychology and nutrition (two 
of the subjects that you mentioned) have other applications than 
the typical tenure-track professor ladder.  I work for the U.S. Forest 
Service, but I have many ties with people at various universities in the 
biological sciences.  Times are not good.  In the government, everyone is 
into "down-sizing" and "reduction in force."  The universities have 
different names for it, by they are also reducing the number of professors 
and departments.  Many new Ph.Ds are condemned to numerous post-doctoral 
positions that do not turn into anything permanent.  Those that do get 
positions at universities pretty much have to abandon the rest of their 
lives to get tenure.  Funding is drying up, and more people are competing 
for the little money that is available.  I'm sorry to sound so pessimistic, 
but I honestly can't be very encouraging.  At our professional meeting this 
year, everyone looked pretty glum.

Sorry I can't be more encouraging.  There are employment opportunities 
outside of academia, and I would investigate those thoroughly before 
launching a Ph.D. program in a specific field.  Good luck.  

Dr. Jessie Micales
Forest Products Laboratory
U.S. Forest Service
Madison, WI

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