The reason I continued for a Ph.D. degree was that I wanted to continue to be a college teacher; and, at the time, there seemed no future in continuing to teach with the strong M.S. which I had at that time. After three colleges had told me that I was on a “tenure track,” for staying there indefinitely, I found out that I had been deceived. The jobs were never intended to be more than one year. At that time, in the early sixties, there was a definite demand for Ph.Ds as college chemistry teachers and I thought that in a year or so I could finish the degree. In 1963, I went back to college for the degree. In the fall of 1966, I finished the degree and got a job in a small college in Illinois. My second year there, I was rehired for a third year on a “terminal year contract.” By this time, 1969. the space program was winding down, flooding the market with Ph.D’s in science and the demand for PhD chemists as college instructors was essentially zilch. With six years experience as a teacher, I would have been “automatically tenured” if hired for a second year by any college. The Chemistry profession, at that point 80% Ph.D.s, had finally realized that what really was needed was technicians at about the two-year-college level. The industrial market, therefore, was essentially closed, also.
By i972, I was a day-laborer who had finally learned that, to be able to obtain survival jobs. it was best not to admit to more than one year of high school. As I had moved from Missouri back to South Dakota after my Freshman year, I could get by with that.
The point of all of this is that there may be reasons why one would wish to obtain a Ph.D.; however, one must be careful not to “educate yourself out of the market.” What most people don’t know, and, of course, colleges won’t tell them, is that while college degrees, especially advanced degrees, may open some doors otherwise not available in front of a person, they will close more doors behind one. A Ph.D. will not be hired for a position that can be filled with a person of lesser training. Additionally, if one does not “lock in” to something within the first several years, the advanced degree can easily become obsolete and essentially of no value.
In my own case, I definitely overstepped my socio-economic boundaries by entering graduate school. I came from a family having very little money thus I did not develop the attitude that “appearances are everything,” that is necessary to have for success at the middle-class level, an attitude that seems to be automatic at the higher socio-economic levels. In college, there were others like me. There was no problem at the undergraduate level. In graduate school; however, the class level to which one aspired clicked up a few notches. I never really fit in. Any way, I have ended up pretty much where I started, what could be called a “PWT with a PhD.”
The way the job market is now-a-days, I’d advise one to have the knotting needles well prepared for when the Ph.D program has been finished for five or six years and one is wishing that they could trade all of those hours back in at cost. A good set of “knitting needles” to have handy probably would be a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License.) There are far more openings for truck drivers than for college graduates, and, they (the truck drivers) often make as good or better money….