Fordham GSAS: Grad. Life: Warning Labels and Seamless Garments: We All May Be Naked Soon!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Warning Labels and Seamless Garments: We All May Be Naked Soon!


    The Council of Graduate Schools' annual meeting, held last weekend in Washington, yielded some choice metaphorical configurations about the current graduate school experience, as Stacey Patton of The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. 
     In his plenary address entitled "The Future of Graduate Education in the Humanities," MLA president Michael Bérubé said graduate education today is "like a seamless garment of crisis, in which, if you pull on any one thread, the entire thing unravels."
     The image of nakedness evoked all too much vulnerability for me. But vulnerability of Bérubé's image was nothing compared to the analogy Patton used to summarize another discussion at the conference, held the next day. 
     In this session, entitled "Graduate Student Debt: Issues and Implications," participants suggested that graduate institutions offer more transparency for incoming or prospective students about the financial realities of graduate school. Patton analogizes these kind of FYI's to "warning labels" -- you know, like the kind you may find on:
Cigarettes:

Alcohol:

Swimming Pools:



Here, Patton summarizes the gist of the session's conclusions and suggestions:
What graduate programs can do, some presenters said, is offer warnings, information, and guidance.
That process, some people said, should begin at admission with disclosures about what debt and repayment options would look like with or without a fellowship. Individual programs should also provide comprehensive data on where recent graduates landed jobs and what types of salaries they're earning.
Armed with that knowledge, students will then have to decide for themselves whether pursuing a graduate degree is worth it or not. 
In light of these analogies, I began to wonder: How might a graduate education warning label read? Here's a rough draft:
Oh yeah -- and you may be naked, too. Don't say you weren't warned!
What do you think of the figures of speech and analogies underpinning the current discourse on graduate student reform? Write in!

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