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Academic Betrayal: The Bullying of a Graduate Student Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
I think of my own graduate school experiences, more than 25 years ago, and even at a wonderful institution I admire, 2 students I knew went through their own versions of this hell. I won't give the details, as the stories are theirs. But I will say that in one instance, as a idealistic graduate student, I spearheaded a petition among my fellow students to support the student being treated poorly. I talked with professors I had good relationships with and received interesting responses. One professor said that perhaps there should not be an (implicit) promise of a degree with admission--the type of attitude that author Mayshark is calling out. But another made a lasting impact on my life by saying, as best I can recall, "Sometimes bad things happen and you mustn't let it make you jaded or bitter". Both students in my stories eventually obtained a degree--perhaps the difference that a cohesive well run department made in checking professors' errors. But these were problems that never should have happened.
Back to the review-- author Mayshark challenges the idea that the suffering and expense a student goes through in the attempt for a degree is not the business of the college or faculty. Enough of my idealism has survived to agree with him. The next part of the discussion is tougher--what is to be done about it? Should accreditation of colleges look more at the experiences of graduate students? Not just how many years to a degree, but whether it was time well spent. Should professor's student evaluations be available to applicants, rather than having to rely on yelp? Should a master's thesis (and PhD dissertation) be considered a journeyman piece, not a masterpiece?
What makes this book worth reading is the introduction of the idea that the system, not the individuals, need to change--but the reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that the discussion is tantalizingly incomplete. Perhaps the answers will develop into a sequel or come from an organization out there that oversees colleges. I hope that this thought provoking book is just the beginning.
The author was unable to reach his goal of obtaining an MA from Hunter College, so I understand that he is feeling sorry for himself. My basic problem is that I do not see why he went to that school when his interest was in Latin American history. I haven’t researched the best colleges and universities for Latin American history, but I would think the better programs would be in the West and Southwest United States. Okay, he didn’t apply or look at schools from where I think you should have. Once he got into Hunter College, and he saw that he could only take one or two Latin American courses why did he stay? When he found out that the school would have to develop a Latin American comprehensive exam for him, again why did he stay? Next question why did he assume that it was okay if he failed a comprehensive exam? Next based on his time demands why did he agree to read 40 or 50 books in a two or three months period before taking the comprehensive exam?
I will agree that school bureaucracy can be a pain sometimes, but I personally have not seen bureaucracies has disrespectful as he describes. I never attended a college in the New York City area, so it is possible that the school bureaucracies could be worse there than the schools I attended. I have met some professors over the years that sucked. I have also found some research scientists professors that were extremely personable and did their best to help their students. I also learned very early in my school career that I had to tailor my interest to the professor's interest. I also decided early which professors would be most suitable to work with instead of choosing a topic then finding a professor who might be interested. Of course, I am talking as a scientist who likes to analyze issues.
I wonder if the author should have bought another person with him when he met with the professors. My wife almost got screwed up in her undergraduate program because her advisor didn’t know what he was talking about. I met her has a graduate student working on my first Masters while she was an undergraduate from a different country. I made her go back to her advisor three times on a certain issue until her advisor sent her to the person that ran the program she needed. My future wife found out I was correct and saved herself at least half of school year. Sometimes two heads are better than one.
I’m sorry for the author's experiences, and hopefully, he was able to move on with his life. If he is still interested in obtaining a Latin American history degree, there is nothing stopping him from trying again. I was 42 when I received my Ph.D. I was called a professional student; it is over 21 years since I received the degree. I highly recommend that the author takes a few years off from school save some money and stabilize his life then look for another admission.
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