Post Academic


A guide to feeding and caring for your Post Academic (with poll!)

Posted in Absurdities,Ask an Academic by Arnold Pan on May 24, 2010
Tags: , ,

"Trader Joe's Bag" by Francinegirvan (Creative Commons waiver)

Taking another page from the current issue of The New Yorker, we’re repurposing its “humor”–read: smug, smarter-than-thou–piece titled “Your New College Graduate: A Parents’ Guide” to suit our needs, using their questions and coming up with our own kinda answers.  We won’t take ourselves too seriously, since it’s clear from this week’s cover that The New Yorker doesn’t!

What do I feed my Post Academic?

We told you about the Post/Academic’s love of freeloading before, so that’s one source of sustenance.  Otherwise, you should make sure there’s a Trader Joe’s nearby, because they love cheap brie, knock-offs of gourmet brands, and organic fruit in plastic boxes.

Why is my Post Academic so fussy?

If your B.A. is fussy after finishing college and prickly about being asked about what they’re going to do with their very expensive education and four years of “training”, imagine how your Ph.D. feels after many more years of education and accruing more debt on top of those college loans?  Plus, your Post Academic can’t bask in recent memories of camaraderie and youthful indiscretions, since we’ve pretty much critically unpacked and structurally demystified those “sentiments.”  Besides, staff meeting is probably the last time we’ve mingled with any of our peers–unless Facebook counts.  À la The New Yorker, ask your Post Academic these questions to gauge her/his mood–basically, their college grad questionnaire applies almost just as well to Post Academics!  Just don’t expect a direct “Yes/No” response.

More on taking care of your Post Academic below the fold…

Q: Did somebody suggest that you “look for work”? A: Hey, didn’t anyone tell you that the MLA Job Information List doesn’t come out until Sept!

Q: Did the subject of *more* graduate school “come up”? A: Maybe I can get a tenure-track position in Film Studies, since I’ll earn my next Ph.D. just in time for the restructuring of academia and whenever the next great demographic boom occurs.

Q: Have you been to a scary job interview? A: Can it be more awkward than this interview I had?

Q: Did you see a scary LSAT book? A: That’s right, anyone can always go to law school!

The best Post/Academic response to the third degree would just be, “It’s summer, so I don’t have to think about any of this until school starts again!”

What do I do if my Post Academic cries?  What do I do if he screams?

Geez, you’re just asking that now?  Haven’t you and your Post Academic had 9.3 years to figure out how to mollify your anxieties?  So when real, practical solutions like convincing Ph.D. programs to help their students think about options outside the ever-shrinking academic job market or changing the structural conditions of the university aren’t working, break out the artificial stimulants and virtual realities!

Q: Does your Post Academic have enough cigarettes? A: Cigarettes are expensive.  It’s a lot cheaper standing outside a seminar room during a smoking break to get a second-hand buzz, whether you want one or not.

Q: Did you remember to fill your wallet with cash? (not applicable)

Q: Do you have Internet access? A: One good thing about the inefficiencies of the university is that they forget a lot of stuff, like cutting off your .edu account when they say they will.  Yep, my .edu account, slated for the digital dustbin on April 1, is still up and running!

Q: Have you had your daily nap? A: You don’t mean that snooze you just took in the car freeway flying between adjunct jobs, do you?

Q: Do you have your bottle? A: That’s The New Yorker‘s idea of a pun–baby bottle and wine bottle, get it?  See our answer to feeding the Post Academic above: Where there’s a Trader Joe’s, there’s Two-Buck Chuck.

How do I teach my Post Academic independence?

Well, the academic job market and the bureaucracy of the university will do this for your Post Academic, forcing independence on ’em because it’s not like the Worst. Job Market. Ever. is going to be a viable option for a lot of folks for very long.  And as for pulling the psychological and emotional ripcord, well, you’re probably better off not looking here and figuring that out for yourself!

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