Wednesday, October 13, 2004

student emeriti

Bill Vallicella, the Maverick Philosopher whose confessions about the eremitic life of the independent philosopher are not quite so eremitic has this to say about those perpetual students who take years (read decades) to complete a degree:

"I had friends in graduate school who belonged to the class of those we jokingly referred to as graduate student emeriti. They were the perpetual students who were "not hung up on completion," to borrow a memorable line from William Hurt's character Nick in The Big Chill (1983). Free of the discipline of undergraduate school, they took incompletes in their courses and then spent years completing them. Some never completed them. Others finished their course work and actually wrote dissertations and won the degree -- some fifteen years after they started. They supported themselves with adjunct teaching and odd jobs, loans and parental hand-outs."
Having been a a graduate student myself for nearly six years now, I can very well relate to Bill's observation. There is something irresistibly soothing about life on Alma Mater's lap. Why would you ever want to leave that nurturing environment of knowledge for knowledge's sake for daddy's cut throat world of knowledge for profit? But don't worry Bill, with universities becoming increasingly corporatized your perrenial graduate student living lightly from adjunct teaching and odd jobs is soon going to become an endangered species, like the honest politician. It's called "industry partnership," a catchy phrase for allowing corporations to set up shop in your university department's backyard and turn academic research into venture capital.

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