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student voices

Setting Your Own Goals for Graduate School

Here is a problem: attrition rates in graduate school are high and are increasing per year. The percentage of students who don’t complete graduate school can be anywhere from 20% to 60% of the cohort size (depending on which study you read). That’s 20% to 60% of college graduates not reaching their original career aspirations.

So the question is, why do these students, who have excelled in their studies throughout their lives, suddenly decide to quit? Could it be that they were wrong? Maybe not wrong, but that they needed to take a step back for some perspective? Will some of them return to graduate school? Will they spurn higher education? What’s next for this well-educated and overqualified population?

What Is the Purpose of Studying History?

In thinking about my own work as an historian, I cannot help but think of the profession as a whole. Traditionally, a “successful” practitioner of history with a Ph.D. was supposed to find a tenure-track job at a university, where he or she would teach undergraduate students and complete research. While this myth of “success” was never the case for every Ph.D., only in the past few years have professional historians really thought about the state of the profession and what it means to be an historian.

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