Another academic year has passed. Three down, one more to go—sort of. As in, not really. It’s pretty much official at this point that I’ll be sticking around at FSU beyond the spring 2012 semester. I’ve probably told this story before, but when I entered my MA program, they told us that even if we have a master’s degree in philosophy, we should plan on taking 5—7 years to complete a PhD. With that in mind, I was a bit worried when my current program offered me only four years of guaranteed funding. Four years didn’t sound very long. And now three of those years are up. I only have one year left. That may sound like a lot of time, now that I’m “all but dissertation” (or ABD), meaning the only thing I really have left to do is write a dissertation. But there’s more to it than that. First off, I’ll be teaching in the latter part of the summer and in the fall. That will be very time consuming. On top of that, if I were planning to graduate next May, I would have to start applying for teaching positions this October. Could I do that? In principle, yes. But it would be rather pointless. The cold hard fact is, in this economic climate, as a philosopher especially, job opportunities will be slim and the competition brutal. If you’re someone like me, who won’t have a substantial portion of your dissertation written by October, and who has never had something published in a journal, you simply aren’t going to be marketable. It would be embarrassing even to apply for jobs under those conditions. It would, I believe, make you look like an idiot for even trying.
Within the last couple of weeks, I’ve discussed these concerns with a couple of relevant people from my department. I’ve been told that continued funding of some kind is almost guaranteed for someone like me. It’s quite common for someone like myself, who comes in with a master’s. Wrapping up in four years is just plain difficult. So, in all likelihood, I would be given half the funding that I normally get to stick around for an extra fall semester. If a miracle occurs and there is more money available, I’d even receive normal funding for that semester, but that’s not incredibly likely. But at least I’d be getting something. That would extend my time as a doctoral student at FSU to December 2012. I’d apply for jobs in October 2012, and I’d hopefully spend the spring semester of 2013 interviewing with numerous schools that are all highly enamored of me. And how are my bills getting paid during the spring 2013 semester? If all goes well, I’d be given an adjunct teaching gig at FSU for that semester, a kind of gratuity on their part to sustain me fiscally as I try to secure a job for the following year. Apparently, that’s a pretty typical arrangement. So, even though none of this is absolutely guaranteed—what is?—this is what I’m now planning on and expecting. Knock on wood.
I’ve known for some time that sticking around Tallahassee for an extra year was rather likely, but it feels different to think of it as the official plan now. It’s comforting, really. Honestly, life is quite good, and I don’t mind if it stays largely the same for another year. We’re happy and comfortable. And I like knowing I will be a much more appealing job candidate by doing this. Now I’ve got to get cracking on publishing, presenting at conferences, and the like. Oh yeah, and that whole dissertation thing. No big deal, right? Right. Right? Right … right?