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Megan McArdle

Can't Get Tenure? Then Get a Real Job

The last few days have seen the eruption, among academic bloggers, of a tense discussion over tenure. 

The last few days have seen the eruption, among academic bloggers, of a tense discussion over tenure. These discussions have been going on for a while, of course, as the situation for newly minted PhDs keeps getting more dire, and the reaction of people with tenure is to tut-tut about how awful it is and say that someone should do something.

The proximate cause of the most recent explosion is a letter that University of California at Riverside sent to applicants for tenure-track positions in the English department, informing them that five days hence, they would have the opportunity to interview at the annual meeting of the Modern Languages Association. Rebecca Schulman reasonably, if somewhat intemperately, pointed out that for people living on the paltry wages of a grad student, a last-minute plane ticket is a pretty expensive entry fee for a slim chance of a tenure-track job.