Acade(me)

The dissertation was only the beginning.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006
How To Annoy Me
My list, in no particular order, of annoying comments I've collected over the past few weeks:

1.) "Oh, I was a ______ major in college, so I totally understand what you're going through!"

No, you don't. I hate to break it to you, but Intro to _____ at your university was nothing like what I'm working on or what is taught in graduate school. And I'm willing to bet that writing your 10-page research paper in which you were required to consult sources other than your textbook was nothing like a dissertation. How do I know this? Because I've taught Intro to ______ to undergraduates seventeen times in the past four years.

2.) "How many pages does it [the dissertation] have to be?"

Well, the teacher said it had to be 10-12 pages, but I'm shooting for 15 just to impress 'em!

3.) "Are you still working on that paper?"

Oh, you mean this little paper I've been writing for the past year? The one whose existence I had to justify in the form of a 35-page prospectus before I could begin? Are you referring to the silly paper that has necessitated my checking out every book on the topic from Doctoral Univeristy's library and five books from other libraries? The paper that keeps my child in daycare four days a week? If THAT'S the "paper" you're talking about, then yes, I am still working on it.

4.) "Why didn't you just get a job at Doctoral University?"

Great idea! That's how this business should work: Doctoral University trains me, gives me a Ph.D., and then hires me to work there. They do the same for all of their doctoral students, which leads to great intellectual diversity in the department!

5.) "What do you mean you'll be an 'Assistant' Professor? That's what you are now!"

I'm touched, really, that you think I'm an Assistant Professor. Or maybe I'm offended that you think Assistant Professors have the same life (and salary!) as Graduate Teaching Assistants. Or maybe I'm just annoyed because you have no idea what you're talking about.

6.) "You're so lucky to have a job at a university, because then you get summers off forever! Must be nice!"

Right! I'm all about the summers off to do nothing but sit on the chaise lounge in the backyard by the pool, thinking about all the working stiffs out there chasing dollars. The Ph.D. I'm earning is just one step on my path to Easy Street! They grant tenure to professors with nice tans, don't they?

7.) "You're moving? Why didn't you just get a job at Local College or City Community College?"

That's a great question. Maybe I'll head over to Local College, whose "department" consists of one person, and hope that they give me his job. Or maybe I'll just look on Monster.com and see if any local businesses are having an emergency that requires the assistance of an academic. ("Hurry, Jane! The boiler's gonna burst! We need someone with a Ph.D. -- quick!")

8.) "It sure must be nice to stay at home all day. That's why your house is so clean!"

Actually, my house is clean because I'm a neat freak and I clean and pick up clutter as a matter of course. It is not because I spend the days when my son is in daycare cleaning the oven or scrubbing the bathtubs. But you're right: it is nice to stay at home all day, considering that is where all of my dissertation materials are and my home office is the only place I can work.

9.) "It's nice that you and your husband are both going to be professors, because it will be easier to get jobs at the same place." (Itinerant Thinker)

10.) "Oh, I know someone at Fancy R1's hospital; e-mail me your resume and I'm sure he'll be able to get you a job (in the humanities)." (Itinerant Thinker)

11.) "Do you think you could finish your dissertation if I watched your son for the weekend?"

Because, um, yeah, all I need is 48 hours of silence to churn this puppy out. (Badger)

12.) So, what are you going to do with a PhD in [subject]?" (ABD Me)

13.) "It must be nice to work at a university - much less stressful than business." (ABD Me)

14.) "What do you do all day if you're not working?" (ABD Me)

15.) "Yes, I remember how many comments my English teacher/prof made to my work; I understand what it's like to revise your writing for a journal editor."

Yes, I'm sure that is comparable, and you probably only waited a week or so for comments that you could choose to address or ignore while I must justify why I decided to cross my t's and dot my i's. Maybe I should start ignoring the action editor and just send my article directly to the top and demand publication. (Statgirl)

16.) "Can I read something you have written as I would love learn about what you are doing."

Sure, let me send you the reference and I'm sure that you will be able to easily follow my explantion of statistical modeling as well as the theoretical basis for the hypothesis I am testing. After all, I did learn all of this practically overnight and pretty much anyone can play the game of academe. (Statgirl)

17.) "Oh really, you're going to be a professor??"

Uh no, I just play one on TV. (Magnificent Mon)

18.) From the postman (upon mailing yet another job app via priority mail): "Are you applying to go to college at X?" (Sciencewoman)

19.) "If you're a student, but not taking classes, what do you do all day?" (Sciencewoman)

20.) Q: "When are you going to be done with school and get a job?"

A: How do you think I've been supporting your son/brother/friend for the past 4 years? (Sciencewoman)

21.) Them: "What are you studying?"
Me: "I'm studying XXXXX Education."
Them: "So you're going to be a teacher."

Me thinking - yeah, I'm going to be a glorified teacher with a PhD. Darn skippy! (Rageyone)

22.) "Oh, you're a professor. So you're going to start to correct my grammar now?"

Uh, no. I don't teach grammar. I refer my students with problems in this area to the writing center. I don't get paid to do grammar -- and I certainly don't get paid to correct your grammar. But you're really insecure, aren't you? (raised eyebrow) (Profgrrrrl)

*****

Feel free to make your own additions to this list in the comments and I'll add them to the main post (with proper attribution, of course). Ah, we academics are so misunderstood!
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 2/21/2006 12:19:00 PM  
15 Words of Wisdom:
  • At 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You're freaking awesome.

     
  • At 2:50 PM, Blogger Rhonda said…

    Have you been talking to my mom?

    My additions:

    "It's nice that you and your husband are both going to be professors, because it will be easier to get jobs at the same place."

    "Oh, I know someone at Fancy R1's hospital; e-mail me your resume and I'm sure he'll be able to get you a job (in the humanities)."

     
  • At 2:53 PM, Blogger Badger said…

    My addition, courtesy of my sister-in-law, who asked if I thought I could write my dissertation if she volunteered to watch my son for the weekend.

    Because, um, yeah, all I need is 48 hours of silence to churn this puppy out.

     
  • At 3:50 PM, Blogger phd me said…

    Oh, your list is spot on. How many times have I heard these! And others:

    "So, what are you going to do with a PhD in [subject]?"

    "It must be nice to work at a university - much less stressful than business."

    And my favorite: "What do you do all day if you're not working?"

     
  • At 4:01 PM, Blogger *statgirl* said…

    My addition: "Yes, I remember how many comments my English teacher/prof made to my work; I understand what it's like to revise your writing for a journal editor"

    Yes, I'm sure that is comparable, and you probably only waited a week or so for comments that you could choose to address or ignore while I must justify why I decided to cross my t's and dot my i's. Maybe I should start ignoring the action editor and just send my article directly to the top and demand publication.

    And closely related to this one:

    "Can I read something you have written I would love learn about what you are doing."

    Sure, let me send you the reference and I'm sure that you will be able to easily follow my explantion of statistical modeling as well as the theoretical basis for the hypothesis I am testing. After all, I did learn all of this practically overnight and pretty much anyone can play the game of academe.

     
  • At 4:55 PM, Blogger Dr. Mon said…

    Y'all are cracking me up--this is a great list!! Every time a leasing agent asked me why I was moving to New School City, they all had to repeat what I said--"Oh really, you're going to be a professor??"

    Uh no, I just play one on TV.

     
  • At 5:15 PM, Blogger ScienceWoman said…

    Wonderful list!!! A few additions:

    1. From the postman (upon mailing yet another job app via priority mail): "Are you applying to go to college at X?"

    2. "If you're a student, but not taking classes, what do you do all day?"

    3. (my most favoritest) Q: "When are you going to be done with school and get a job?"
    A: How do you think I've been supporting your son/brother/friend for the past 4 years?

     
  • At 7:52 PM, Blogger RageyOne said…

    Oh, those were hilarious! I have one to add:

    them - "What are you studying?"

    me - "I'm studying XXXXX Education."

    them - "So you're going to be a teacher."

    me thinking - yeah, I'm going to be a glorified teacher with a PhD. Darn skippy!

     
  • At 8:26 PM, Blogger ~profgrrrrl~ said…

    "Oh, you're a professor. So you're going to start to correct my grammar now?"

    Uh, no. I don't teach grammar. I refer my students with problems in this area to the writing center. I don't get paid to do grammar -- and I certainly don't get paid to correct your grammar.

    But you're really insecure, aren't you? (raised eyebrow)

     
  • At 9:02 PM, Blogger Laura said…

    From many, many people:

    "What is it that you do again?"

    After Mr. Geeky got tenure, talking to some family members:

    "Oh, so if you didn't get tenure, you'd have to leave the school?" (we'd explained this so many times, especially since we'd been through this process twice!)

     
  • At 9:57 PM, Blogger La Lecturess said…

    Oh, these are so good!

    My contributions:

    1. from when I was still a grad student:

    "You're so lucky to be in school! I'd just love to go back and be a perpetuatal student, and read all those books."

    Then, of course, when I'd suggest that, actually, grad school was pretty painful at times, not really that much fun, and not like being a college student, I'd get these baffled and rather offended looks, as much as to say that the joys of being a student were WASTED on the likes of me.

    2. A bizarre and never-yet-duplicated remark, made by my real estate agent:

    "Oh, so both you and [Partner] teach college? Whaddaya gonna do, you plan on opening a school together?"

     
  • At 9:01 AM, Blogger MissPrism said…

    Haha! Yes, lots of these ring a bell.

    I think one of the problems is that people don't want to "rudely" assume a woman is older than she is, so they err on the side of caution and ask "So, are you going to school here?"

     
  • At 3:56 PM, Blogger ScienceGeek said…

    I think I've heard every one of those comments. Too funny. My favorite one from my parents is:

    Them: "So have you finished writing that paper thing?"

    Me: "You mean the thesis?"

    Them: "Ya that".

    Me: "Umm... no. It's not really just a paper."

    Them: "Oh" - changes the subject

     
  • At 11:08 AM, Blogger nemesis said…

    Sciencegeek , I got that "paper thing" all the time!!
    Another favourite of mine is simply "Why does it take so long?", with a pinch of "there must be something wrong with you" in the tone. I sometimes honestly believe that some people think it is merely a text, anyone with a typewriter could type, so why don't I, right?

     
  • At 1:40 PM, Blogger Lilian said…

    Wow, this is a great post. I have encountered many of those comments. The most recent one has been coming from friends and acquaintances:

    "I've been very busy since my parents got here and I'm working again," I say.

    They look surprised and ask: "Oh, you're working now?"

    "Sure, the same as before, I'm working on my dissertation!!"

    Yeah, I guess writing a dissertation is no work at all!

     
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