- What They Didn’t Teach You in Graduate School: 199 Helpful Hints for Success in Your Academic Career
Most readers of this review will know that the primary jobs of faculty members, no matter what the specialty, are teaching, research, and service, and that those responsibilities vary in importance and priority depending upon the type of institution in which they work. In many cases, those responsibilities [End Page 427] also include working with doctoral students seeking to enter the professoriate or administrative ranks, and assisting with the orientation and mentoring of new faculty colleagues. What They Didn’t Teach You in Graduate School: 199 Helpful Hints for Success in Your Academic Career is a light-hearted, somewhat cynical, and often funny book that is a wonderful tool to help in these latter tasks.
Authors Paul Gray and David Drew are Professor Emeritus and Joseph Platt Chair of Educational Studies respectively at the Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California. They have used an innovative format to describe the issues, concerns, and pitfalls facing those seeking to, or just beginning to, join the ranks of teaching or research faculty. While those entering the faculty are the authors’ primary target audience, many of their points are also of value to those seeking to enter administrative positions at colleges and universities. In fact, anyone who wants to work in higher education and wants to know the issues facing faculty should take this book in hand and give it a quick read.
In just under 150 pages the authors, of course, do not get deeply into any subject, but they hit the mark so many times and in such an entertaining and succinct way that readers will feel well informed when they finish. Despite its brevity, this book will be a welcome and valuable addition to the bookshelves of all graduate students and new faculty.
What They Didn’t Teach You in Graduate School is organized into 15 brief chapters and four appendices, each containing a series of hints on various issues related to academic careers. Chapter 9, “Life as an Academic,” is divided into sub-topics including “Your Digital Life,” “Institutional Citizen,” “Department Chair,” “Grievances,” and “Dealing with Myths.” Chapter 12, “On Publishing,” is divided into subsections dealing with “Journals” and “Book Publishers.” Other chapters deal with job hunting, research, tenure, diversity, and other issues related to academic life. The appendices are more broadly based commentaries on “Dissertations,” “Outside Income,” “Writing Tips,” and “Your Health.” Each chapter begins with a cartoon—often hilarious—which makes a pithy commentary on the topic of the chapter. No chapter is more than 10 pages long, so it can easily be visited while drinking a morning cup of coffee or during boring stretches of faculty meetings.
While many of the 199 hints described in this book may seem simple and self-evident to the majority of readers, others are very important—things about which I, an experienced administrator and faculty member at a research university, had not thought and even more of which I was oblivious to in graduate school. For instance, Hint 81 describes administrative assistants as a “scarce resource” and advises treating them as the treasures they are. Other hints covered information that I did not know about faculty roles when I chose to move from an administrative to a faculty position. An example is Hint 15, Watson’s Syndrome, “which is a euphemism for procrastination” (p. 14) particularly as it relates to academic writing.
Among the many amusing, and somewhat tongue-in-cheek hints include some of those with which Gray and Drew begin. Hint 1 is Gray’s Theorem (N + 2), meaning that “The number of papers required for tenure is N + 2, when N is the number you published” (p. 7), and Hint 4 is: “Every paper can be published somewhere” (p. 8).
Other hints that I found interesting and important (though somewhat understandably cynical) are: Hint 37...