This is the start of a blog post by John Skylar. The style is deliberately provocative but the point is well taken. Many of students go into graduate school for the wrong reasons without any consideration for the economic consequences of their choice. When meeting with students who seek career advice, I systematically stress that a PhD in science is a pretty lousy career option. I try to encourage them to think of alternative career options that they could not imagine on their own. That conversation is very helpful to distinguish the students who lacks imagination from the ones who will survive in this system.
I don’t hate science. I am still pursuing the vision that attracted me to a graduate program. However, I often wish that a few people had invited me to consider all the long-term consequences of the decision to get a PhD. And sometimes, I wonder what life would have been if I had chosen a different path.