Has anyone majored (or is majoring) in Anthropology? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 60 Old 03-31-2010, 01:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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If so, what level of education did you have (bachelors, masters, phd) or, if you're still in school, how high are you planning to go? Those who are already out of school, what do you do careerwise, and what all have you done? Those who are still in school, what do you hope to do. I believe that most anthropologists have an emphasis in one of the subfields (cultural, archaeology, linguistics or biological), so what (if any) is yours?

They always say that you find your passion when you least expect it. Well, in December I decided to take a 100 level Anthropology class as a fun elective, figuring it'd be easy and entertaining. Ha! Four months in, and I'm rocking a 95%, was selected by my teacher to tutor next semester, I'm leading the class study group and I spend hours of my time reading about Pompeii, Lucy, Ardi, Selam, and other biped hominoids. Don't even get me started on family/sex/gender, I spent two hours reading about it in more detail, since we're doing that chapter in detail and I had to know more than the textbook information. Oh, how have I become such a loser?!

Luckily, I'm still awhile away from having to declare a major, so I figure if I decide against majoring in Anthropology down the road, I can always make it my minor. I really, really love this though, so I'd love to hear from people who actually do it.

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#2 of 60 Old 03-31-2010, 01:52 AM
 
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My husband got a BA (cultural). He did not go on to grad school and has found his degree to be pretty useless, I fear to tell you.
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#3 of 60 Old 03-31-2010, 11:14 AM
 
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I had (nearly) the same experience this last quarter! I took Cultural Anthro, just to fulfill a social science credit, and I loved it! I got every single point available in the class, because it was so fun. I seriously thought about changing my major (I'm pre-dental). But I have four kids to put through college, so it's a lot more important for me to have a lucrative degree.

My parents both studied anthropology when they were in college. My mom was the first woman in her master's program at the University of Montana. They did not want her there. She was stonewalled by her adviser when she was writing her thesis- he wouldn't talk to her at all- and they rejected it when it was submitted. She was a single mom with two small children and no support, and she gave up at that point. I can't say what she would have done with that masters, but she went into social work and ended up spending most of her career at the Wa State Human Rights Commission, investigating discrimination complaints. So she put her education to use, anyway.

My dad has a Phd in Anthropology. I remember him writing his thesis the summer I was eight. He is the kind of person who is more interested in helping people than making money, so his choice of jobs reflects that, more than the potential of his degree. He teaches. He has taught Adult Basic Ed. to native Canadians in Vancouver, BC and spent several years in the Yukon, teaching in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere. He homeschooled my step brother for several years, too. Right now he's teaching a course for international students at the University of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, how to succeed in Canadian college.

I think a lot of people teach who have Anthro. degrees. I know there's research going on, and if you want to be a researcher, you should look into that. I don't know if it really pays or not? Maybe you could consider doing what my parents did- they really took their knowledge and applied it in jobs where you work with diverse people. In that respect, it's a very versatile degree- but you need another skill to go with it.

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#4 of 60 Old 03-31-2010, 12:33 PM
 
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My husband got a BA (cultural). He did not go on to grad school and has found his degree to be pretty useless, I fear to tell you.


My BA is in anthropology, with a minor in linguistics. I did field work in primatology for a semester in Costa Rica. I loved it, but once I met my husband, I realized I didn't want to spend years doing field work to become a primatologist, which was my initial goal.

I ended up with jobs that I could have gotten with any degree, but it's virtually impossible to get a job in anthropology without a PhD or at the very least, a Masters'.

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#5 of 60 Old 03-31-2010, 12:44 PM
 
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I know 2 people who got BA with anthro. One tried to get into grad school and couldn't. She ended up going to cosmetology school (her other passion). The other worked random retail jobs for a while, then got a massage diploma and is working out of her home now.

You really need a PhD to use anthro!!
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#6 of 60 Old 03-31-2010, 06:46 PM
 
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I think that if you are willing to expand your def of what anthro means and consider a double major or a minor, you might be surprised. So I have couple friends that work in diversity fields - that got their undergrad in Spanish & are doing their master's in Higher Education. One just accepted a job out at a college to work in their deviersity office as a programs coordinator. So I think if you lok at anthro (or even psych) as a preparation ofr a human resources career or other similar career paths, you might be able to carve a niche out for yourself.

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#7 of 60 Old 03-31-2010, 08:33 PM
 
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I have a B.A. in Anthro with a focus in socio-cultural and in linguistics. I refer to it as the degree that prepares you to do nothing, although that's not entirely true. It gave me a wonderful understanding of people acting within their cultures and (because I focused mainly on Western culture, especially America which is rather unusual for Anthro) how we use our language in Western culture to construct boundaries and ideologies that drive our lives.

I am, however, having to go back to school now to get a degree in the major I originally enrolled in which was secondary school special education.

I wouldn't trade my anthro degree for anything though, I so enjoyed the education I got and the research papers I got to write. I LOVED it. But really, you have to get at least a masters to really do anything with it, better to have a PhD.

Sorry if this rambled, I just had my wisdom teeth out so I am pretty loopy but I hope it made some sense. Good luck!!

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#8 of 60 Old 04-01-2010, 04:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies ladies! From what my professor has said, it's possible to get a job as part of a team with a bachelors, with a masters you can teach at community college and work higher up within the team, and a phd is great, but unless you want to do your own research, you can make it just fine without one. Like I said, I'm lucky that I have time still to decide. What really convinced me to go with it was actually a conversation that took place last winter. A friend is majoring in Global Studies, emphasis on Japanese, and I asked what he was going to do with that degree. Without hesitating, he says "something awesome!" Just having a degree is a huge plus these days when it comes to a lot of jobs, so I'm not necessarily worried about living in a box, being unemployed.

A double major is a great idea. I'm considering doubling in education (high school history/social sciences), and I wanted to minor in Spanish if I can manage to get through the upper level classes.

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#9 of 60 Old 04-01-2010, 04:09 PM
 
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I got a BA in Anthropology, my emphasis being archaeology. I did field work for 7 years after graduating. I loved it. Lots of travel, almost everyone in the field is cool. There's lots of field work out there - check out shovelbums.org. I ended up quitting when dh and I decided to get married and have kids. I miss it though. I have friends that are still in the field and moved into supervisory positions with CRM firms (with just their bachelors). I have other friends that went back for phDs, some are teaching at universities, others are working at universities in related fields.

I understand what you mean, as soon as I took my first anthro class I was hooked for good.
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#10 of 60 Old 04-02-2010, 12:44 PM
 
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Wow I totally disagree with those saying it is a useless degree! IMO most bachelors are useless in their own right without a masters degree these days.

Here's my experience. I graduated with a bsc in anthropology in 1999. I focused on social anthropology and spent 3 months conducting research in Costa Rica on an indigenous reserve. My thesis discussed the use of traditional medicine in combination with modern medicine on the reserve (looking specifically at women's health).

After graduating I took a research and policy position with the Royal College of Midwives in the UK. I realized quickly I needed at least a masters to progress in the research and policy world.

I got married and moved to the US where I completed my masters. I decided to do it in Sociology because of the greater focus on research methologies. While studying I became involved in international health and worked for a global nonprofit. Anthropology is very very useful for those working in international development.

On graduating, I went to work for a very high profile policy think tank and worked in their health policy center on domestic and international issues. My anthropology lens was very useful among a group of economists who did not see the cultural and social side to health.

Then I became pregnant and moved cities and took 15 months off. I am about to start in a senior research position at a public health research firm. My role will be to direct evaluations of public health programs - for example, the use of community health workers to reach out to undocumented pregnant Latina women. I think it's obvious how anthropology is useful in this role, which btw, comes with a nice salary

So, I say go for it but be prepared to get at least an MA afterwards and get lots and lots of work experience. Stay focused once you determine your niche.

Good luck!

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#11 of 60 Old 04-02-2010, 01:24 PM
 
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Also want to add, out of my anthro classmates I keep in touch with, one got his PhD and teaches, 2 stopped with the bsc and are successful documentary film makers, another friend got some kind of post grad qualification and is co-producer on films like The Green Zone with Matt Damon.

So useless? Don't think so!!!

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#12 of 60 Old 04-02-2010, 11:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Louise, thank you SO much for your story! My number one passion in life is women's health care, midwifery in particular, so it's wonderful to know that anthropology and health are complimentary

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#13 of 60 Old 04-03-2010, 04:49 PM
 
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My husband majored in Anthropology, but his career is in IT. He worked in computer labs to put himself through school and it evolved from there.

I almost double majored in Anthro (along with English), but it would have taken another semester.

For both of us, the name of our college has been helpful on resumes, but the actual type of degree did not apply to many of our jobs.

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#14 of 60 Old 04-03-2010, 05:31 PM
 
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My sister majored in anthropology in college at a top school, made dean's list several times, went on very interesting digs in Europe and the Middle East. Got her PhD in archaeology, also from a top school. She speaks several languages, is well-published, is very smart and personable. She couldn't get a teaching job - there just weren't any to be had (she taught in geology for awhile as a part-time thing). She kept going on digs and doing research with colleagues from her dissertation project, but there was literally NO money in it.

Once she got married and had kids, it was not a sustainable lifestyle to go away to the ends of the earth for months at a time. So now she is a Waldorf teacher at her kids' school, and completed the teacher training for that. She uses her anthro background a lot in her teaching. She misses the digs though, and I'll bet she goes back to doing that eventually when her kids are grown.

I'd think about what you want your life to look like in the future and see if a degree in anthro will help you get there. Be realistic about your aspirations about family, money, etc.

The other detail about archaeology is that it's very much still an old boys club, especially out on digs. There aren't very many women who make it in that field, probably because it doesn't fit very well with raising a family. (Not to say it can't be done, but it's very difficult.)
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#15 of 60 Old 04-03-2010, 07:15 PM
 
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My number one passion in life is women's health care, midwifery in particular, so it's wonderful to know that anthropology and health are complimentary
VERY complimentary. Check out Robbie Davis-Floyd's work, in particulare "Birth as an American Rite of Passage". She's one of the more famous anthropologists working in the childbirth field.

You could always become a midwife - we need more of them!

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#16 of 60 Old 04-05-2010, 09:41 PM
 
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I have two BAs - one in Anthropology and the other in Communication. After many twists and turns I became an attorney. I wouldn't trade my Anthro degree for anything. Many lawyers majored in government or poli sci - my resume stood out for sure!

Doing what you love and what you are passionate about brings so many rewards, many of which you may not realize for many years.
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#17 of 60 Old 04-06-2010, 06:59 AM
 
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OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH

i FOUND my tribe.

i was coming here to post something about ANTHRO!!!!

KaylaBeanie - I have no idea what my job is going to be. all i know is that it is going to be AWESOME!!!! i took a cultural anthro class last summer and it was like i had come home.

i am living and breathing anthro. i want to do a combo of anthro, ecology and climate change with respect to indigenous people, esp. Native Americans. my no. 1 passion is indegenous people and how they have contributed to conservation and restoration.

i am in the process of finding out how my foreign BA in english transfers over to Grad school. i am not going for a MA but straight to PhD because i want to do research.

i am a single mom and i hope to die working. i never want to retire. so i have the freedom to do whatever i want without having family limitations.

right now i volunteer at a Native American musuem so have learnt a LOT. this summer i will be hopefully staying with a friend on a reservation to get to understand what is going on. i am soooooo lucky, because most California Indegenous people are very closed off to outsiders but so far i have been welcomed with open arms. i am involved with sacred sites too and help them with their writings.

i hope eventually that my work would be in a think tank kinda situation - involving some 'field work' and i would enjoy teaching part time too. i dont want to be a full time professor. AND i also want to do social work to improve the conditions of the Native American group many of whom live in conditions WORSE than some developing nations.

the only bummer - i can only apply to ONE grad school. because its not far away from where dd's daddy lives and i dont want to take her away from him or vice versa. so its a little bit scary if they dont accept me.

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#18 of 60 Old 04-06-2010, 06:35 PM
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VERY complimentary. Check out Robbie Davis-Floyd's work, in particulare "Birth as an American Rite of Passage". She's one of the more famous anthropologists working in the childbirth field.
My advisor is another one... I would argue that she's actually more famous. I'm currently in a PhD program in cultural anth, specializing in medical anthropology. I am very happy...

Meemee - if you know what school you've be applying to, you really need to check and see what they want from you, as far as an application. It will also be really important that there's someone there willing to be your advisor. If your interests don't match up at least somewhat with those of a faculty member, they won't accept you no matter how good you are.... and you won't want to be there, because so much of grad school is about being mentored by people who have worked in your field.

And... we don't do social work. That's an entirely different ballgame. There's applied anthropology (once defined as "anthropology in use", but I can't recall by whom) and there are plenty of anthropologists out there speaking out and also doing practical things to try to improve the conditions of people who are struggling or suffering (Paul Farmer is perhaps the most famous)... but no social work. Please.

 
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#19 of 60 Old 04-07-2010, 02:05 AM
 
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And... we don't do social work. ... but no social work. Please.
no no the social work is all me. its something I want to do - not something that will be a part of my Ph D.

actually most of the professors in teh program i want to join, just like you said, have also started non profit agencies that provide things like education, health advice, etc to the very people the prof. is studying. but that is an extra piece. its a piece i would like to have/be involved in too.

perhaps social work is not the right term to use.

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#20 of 60 Old 04-07-2010, 08:23 AM
 
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I have a BS in Anth. Although just an undergrad, we had a lot of specialized classes and I took much on Applied. I did a Spanish/Anth immersion program in Mexico and then stayed on in Mx for 6months, traveling around: chiapas, yucutan.
My focus, although undergrad, was African economics. We had many specialized courses in applied and I *wanted* to move to DC, get my Masters, and be one of the ones fighting development in African countries. Most NGO's were hiring those with MA's at the time; you didn't have to have a PhD.

Instead, I got a job in computer software just after graduation. And have been in computers ever since.

It was the Best degree ever and I wouldn't change anything! I am still obsessed with cultural news around the world, especially Africa. I have used the degree on my resume/interview. I think there is something in an Anth degree that helps you work with people, the public, and having a better understanding of diversity. Applied classes can show you this - imo, or at least when I was in school, much was just re-training your brain to incorporate cultural aspects to 'everyday life'. "Social Marketing".... well, that's really just marketing Except paid attention to who our audience is and targeted the marketing that way, for example. So I think a bachelor's can be helpful in that light, towards another career.

I read Margaret Mead and Colin Turnbull in high school, just for fun. But didn't really know the term, anthopology. It wasn't until I took my first 101 class, the Origins of Civilization (physical anth/evolution class), that I realized I was totally hooked. I ended up being a TA for this class for 3 semesters later on, which was SO rewarding.

Ah, I'm excited for you :-) And anyone in anth classes.

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#21 of 60 Old 08-05-2010, 12:23 PM
 
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I'm an Antrho major in my second year of school. I plan on going for my Masters and possibly a PHD after I complete my bachelors, but it will take me a while with 3 kids! I am a SAHM so I have plenty of time, and I would rather do it slowly than not at all. I went to college right after high school 10 years ago, but didn't really know what I wanted to do with my life/major in, and ended up dropping out. I did take an Anthropology class back then and LOVED it, but never considered it as a career. I would love to be able to work at a museum one day.
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#22 of 60 Old 08-06-2010, 01:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I forgot about this thread! I've come to the conclusion that I have no idea whatsoever what I want to do in life

I've definitively decided on majoring in Anthropology (emphasis in Archeology and/or Physical) and minoring in Environmental Studies. Since I have no clue what I want to do with my life career-wise, I am just going to study what interests me. I love people and history, and I love the environment. These days, there are very few degrees that guarantee one job (education, nursing and engineering are the only ones I can think of), it's just HAVING an undergraduate degree that counts.

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#23 of 60 Old 08-06-2010, 11:02 PM
 
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I'm an anth undergraduate planning on going through phd level. My dh is about to start his masters in anth as well and I'm hoping he'll keep going through phd. Dh still isn't sure what his focus will be but I'm all about the physical/biological anth and archaeology. I just need to decide if I like historical or pre-historical better.

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#24 of 60 Old 08-07-2010, 12:35 PM
 
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I am majoring in Anthropology!!! I am still working on my undergrad.

What I want to do with it is all research and academia, writing a book or two one day. So at least a Masters, probably a PhD

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#25 of 60 Old 08-07-2010, 12:57 PM
 
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Louise, thank you SO much for your story! My number one passion in life is women's health care, midwifery in particular, so it's wonderful to know that anthropology and health are complimentary
You should read Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives. You'd love it.

I have a minor in anthropology becuase it's just something I love. I'm starting my second master's this fall and will be studying human ecology, which is a somewhat obscure branch of anthro.

A friend has an MS in anthro and has been doing pretty well in the museum field. Her husband also has an MS in anthro. and is working in his chosen profession as well.

I have a few friends who have bachelor's degrees in anthro. and they have careers as "shovel bums", which are people who monitor construction sites for archaeological findings. That market has been impacted by the economy and a few friends have gone on to seek MA's in other fields.

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#26 of 60 Old 09-03-2010, 03:17 PM
 
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Im right with you OP! Im still working (ever so slowly) on my undergrad, and plan to go on right through phd, specifically in medical anthropology, studying birth and women and rights of puberty and menarchy and all that jazz.

Im also a stay at home mom and a student midwife apprenticing with a local CPM . my time goal timeline looks like this
finish my apprenticeship
have a nother baby,
sit for the narm ,
buy a farm- dh graduates
start my own midwifery practice
finish my undergraduate
start looking for a masters or phd program.

cheers to us!
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#27 of 60 Old 09-14-2010, 05:41 PM
 
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I majored in Social Anthro (joint with art) and have many friends who did, and we're mostly doing great... but none of us are doing anthropology. Only one of the friends got a doctorate in anthro and he was unable to find a teaching position. I NEVER for a moment regret majoring in anthro, though--I think it underlies the way I think about everything. It's not as if English majors or other similar majors always relate directly to careers anyway.

So of my anthro-major friends:
* I'm a graphic designer
* One is a reporter for a major newspaper (he also got an M.Phil in Anthro)
* One is a political cartoonist
* One is a consultant (she got an MBA)

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#28 of 60 Old 09-14-2010, 09:50 PM
 
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How's everyone's studies going so far? I have all anthro classes this semester and am LOVING it!

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My boys: S (4) & O (2) & Expecting #3 in Dec. 2011

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#29 of 60 Old 09-14-2010, 10:42 PM
 
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I have a PhD in Anthro, with a specialization in North American Archaeology. I started with a double BA major in Anthro and Geology, which took 4 years. It took me another 9 years to complete my MA and PhD. The academic job market stinks right now, so I'm a bit jaded. I am currently underemployed at a community college where I teach Anthro courses. I love teaching, just wish it paid better. Ideally, I would like a position where I had support to do research as well teach. I don't really get any benefits or laboratory space where I'm at. I'd love to train students in field and laboratory methods.

I waited to have my first kid towards the end of my PhD and had my second after I completed my degree. Had I known what a life-changing event childbirth and motherhood were sooner in my life, I think I would have specialized in Medical Anthropology. If I had it to do all over again, I would do my PhD on the medicalization of birth in America, rather than archaeology.

As far as "using" your BA in anthro...well...the truth is that almost no one uses their undergraduate degrees these days, regardless of what it is in. Think of a BA degree as a way to learn the critical thinking abilities - these are skills that any employer looks for.
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#30 of 60 Old 09-14-2010, 11:48 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slsurface View Post
I have a PhD in Anthro, with a specialization in North American Archaeology. I started with a double BA major in Anthro and Geology, which took 4 years. It took me another 9 years to complete my MA and PhD. The academic job market stinks right now, so I'm a bit jaded. I am currently underemployed at a community college where I teach Anthro courses. I love teaching, just wish it paid better. Ideally, I would like a position where I had support to do research as well teach. I don't really get any benefits or laboratory space where I'm at. I'd love to train students in field and laboratory methods.

I waited to have my first kid towards the end of my PhD and had my second after I completed my degree. Had I known what a life-changing event childbirth and motherhood were sooner in my life, I think I would have specialized in Medical Anthropology. If I had it to do all over again, I would do my PhD on the medicalization of birth in America, rather than archaeology.

As far as "using" your BA in anthro...well...the truth is that almost no one uses their undergraduate degrees these days, regardless of what it is in. Think of a BA degree as a way to learn the critical thinking abilities - these are skills that any employer looks for.
You should try to come to Utah State Uni! I think they are trying to expand the anthro program here

I am glad (and sad) that I waited to start my program after having kids.. I want to go into the anthropology of breastfeeding, birth and parenting. (If you have any recommendations for a graduate program, that would be so totally welcome. So far I am leaning towards Oregon State and Washington State) I am sad about waiting because I soooo want to go to Field school, and I can't since my kiddos are still so young (3 and 1).

stillheart.gif The Hippie & the Marine stillheart.gif  hh2.gif
My boys: S (4) & O (2) & Expecting #3 in Dec. 2011

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