Philosophy Majors/Grads/in Grad School I'd Like to Hear From You - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 8 Old 09-18-2010, 09:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So, I was wondering what your experience has been, and what have you been told by advisers and instructors about getting a philosophy degree? I'm asking because next week I'm planning on changing my major to a double major in Philosophy and History. I'm taking the leap because I have an AMAZING philosophy instructor who has inspired me to follow my passion instead of being practical. (I've always wanted to major in philosophy but I didn't know what I could do with it.) The great part is that she is the dean of the Philosophy department at my school and has said she would be my adviser for the remainder of my undergrad. I want to get my PhD in Philosophy and eventually teach at a small school like the one I'm going to. (I go to a school with small classes, no lecture halls, no TAs, and this allowed me to develop a relationship with a few of my instructors. I my school. This is the experience I would like to have someday as a Philosophy teacher) My instructor also has her PhD in philosophy, and know the ins and outs of getting into grad school, which will be very helpful in the future, considering the goals I have.
All this being said, I know Philosophy is one of those degrees that is seen as a useless degree, and all you can do with it is teach and write, but I'm ok with that because that's what I want to do. If anything I'm thinking I can always teach high school Philosophy or History. I'm not in this for the money, I'm just very passionate about philosophy. So, I'm interested in hearing about other people's experience's in regards to this. Am I crazy?

Double majoring Philosophy/History single student mommy geek.gif to DD(4yo)dust.gif. I heartbeat.gif reading (mostly feminist philosophy, Simone de Beauvoir and Jane Addams are my intellectual heros. I'm a dork pinktongue.gif), and sewmachine.gif.
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#2 of 8 Old 09-18-2010, 10:10 AM
 
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No! You're not crazy. It bugs me that people consider philosophy to be a useless degree--it's the undergrad degree of choice for lawyers and most physicians and, of course, future philosophers! Philosophy teaches you how to think logically. Personally, I feel every college student should have to take at least one philosophy course.

Anyway, I'm not quite sure what you're asking for, but I can definitely tell you my experience. I did my undergrad in philosophy and psychology, and I'm currently a graduate student in philosophy. I'm applying for phd programs this winter (fingers crossed). I've had moments of doubt, not because of my field of study, but rather for bigger, more general reasons: Should I quit school and get a job? Will I have too much debt once I'm done? Will I be able to get an academic position?. These are important questions for one considering going into academia, regardless of field--the odds of getting a university position are slim, and it's even less likely that you'll get to teach at the small, intimate school that you dream of. Would you be happy teaching philosophy no matter where you got a job? Will your family be happy to move wherever you get into graduate school and wherever you get a job? (That last answer, for me, was no--my husband was not interested in moving for my education at all. That marriage ended.)

What's great is that you're excited--that's a good sign! If philosophy is what you love, and you have the time, resources and familial support to follow your passion and get a phd, then by all means, do so! Don't be put off by what other people think about philosophy unless you have reason to believe they know what they're talking about.

Good luck! Feel free to PM me with any questions.
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#3 of 8 Old 09-18-2010, 11:08 AM
 
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i am not going to reply to your philosophy part. i will relate to your passion part. it will take you another what 6 to 10 year to get out of school with your Ph D if indeed that is your terminal degree.

the job market in academia looks terrible right now.

but when you apply it might be different.

keep options open. it might be better (though not pay wise) to work at a community college (for which you DONT need your Ph D) rather than a 4 year college because of all the politics in 4 year colleges. just something to keep in mind.

my 'history' is kinda the same as yours - except its anthropology. if i wasnt limited by my choice of university i would be doing my masters in a blend of philosophy and ecology and anthropology - called the ethics of ecology - all living things.

i have many years to go IF i get into the master's program. If i get into directly the Ph D program then omg i could be done in 5 to 7 years. however there is a post doc which i am not looking at now.

i do have mentors. however i am getting into an unusual field. philosophy of indigenous people - probably focused in south america - regarding ecology and conservation, their methods of agriculture. mostly activism and land use.

and i have lots of proffs gunning for me. because i changed my major so many times before i chose my ultimate i have my math, history, anthro of course, english, spanish... AND their office mates who have heard me talk keep tabs on me. so i have that many ears and eyes watching out for me. they do it now by sending me info knowing what i am interested in. with some of the avid farmers (yeah i have quite a few profs who are farmers) we actually are trying indig methods of farming and surprisingly succeeding. i know. i am a v. v. fortunate person.

and so i am not afraid of not getting a job. i have already won a bunch of major scholarships based on my personal statement (unfortunately not too many in anthro but a tonne in science).

however here is my thing. since you are looking at acad. i would encourage you to find a second passion. most of my profs have had or continue to have second something. they are either chocolateurs, farmers, tattoo artists... etc.

cooking is my passion and i am getting out into the community to learn myself. i still dont make money doing it but i am a volunteer cook at many events cooking from anything from 30 to 60 people. that is managing a menu, ingredients and a crew. i loooove it.

by the way its Gandhi NOT ghandi.

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#4 of 8 Old 09-19-2010, 06:11 PM
 
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I'm in a PhD program in Classics right now. I'm also getting my teaching licensure for grades 7-12. I expect to have much more success working for the public schools than getting a university job. In fact, I'm already working part-time in the local middle school. I face some limitations, such as making sure we're in an environment that is positive for my older son (he has Asperger's) and that our family (two mommies) has legal protection, so any future move would have to consider much more than just a job offer. Not sure if you'll have similar issues.

On the other hand, a liberal arts major does not restrict you to academia. I worked for a couple years as a technical writer, having been hired specifically because of my educational background. Degrees in areas like literature and philosophy (and Classics overlaps both) generally produce people with strong reasoning and writing skills. There are still some employers who are more interested in the skill set than a degree tailored to a specific career path. So you're not going down a narrowing path if you pursue grad school in philosophy. I left my corporate job to teach at a private school, because teaching truly is my passion, but my partner (history major) has built a solid career, starting with technical writing.

The other thing I would caution is to really think about the lifestyle of graduate school. I'm assuming you have at least one kid (since you're on this board), so I would warn you to look into how family-friendly a department is and possibly if they have part-time options. I'm not in great shape on my degree right now because I had to deal with my older son's developmental issues (which were just barely surfacing when I started school and weren't fully understood until almost four years in) and having a new baby this year--my department's not very accommodating and is pretty much all or nothing, and I've just about exhausted my leave options now.
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#5 of 8 Old 09-20-2010, 08:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you ladies for your stories! This is exactly what I wanted to hear from people.

I also love to sew, so I'm going to see if I can't develop that into my plan B. I'm making some cute stuff for my schools Holiday craft fair (winter accessories, tote bags, and scrubs for the nursing students) and I'm making my sister's and possibly a coworkers wedding dresses. So we'll see how these projects go, and if they go well, as I like to put it, I'll try and make this into a business that will support my philosophy habit.

Right now I only have one child, a 3 year old DD, and do to my academic goals I've decided I probably won't have anymore. The only barrier I see in the future, besides being able to get into grad school, is my boyfriend, who is also my DD's dad. To make a very long story short, he's conditionally supportive of my career/academic goals.

Double majoring Philosophy/History single student mommy geek.gif to DD(4yo)dust.gif. I heartbeat.gif reading (mostly feminist philosophy, Simone de Beauvoir and Jane Addams are my intellectual heros. I'm a dork pinktongue.gif), and sewmachine.gif.
You've got to get man off your eyeball, before you can see anything at all.- Shug Avery in "The Color Purple"

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#6 of 8 Old 09-20-2010, 10:04 AM
 
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I would try to make sure you get the course work in that you need to get certified to teach secondary school, if that's what you want to do for a back-up plan. Around here, there is no philosophy taught in high school.
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#7 of 8 Old 09-20-2010, 05:34 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EFmom View Post
I would try to make sure you get the course work in that you need to get certified to teach secondary school, if that's what you want to do for a back-up plan. Around here, there is no philosophy taught in high school.
Check requirements in your state and/or states where you might decide to live to see what their requirements are for endorsements. With my studies in Classics, I knew I could qualify for languages, no problem. A little digging revealed that I could count a bunch of my classes towards endorsements in Language Arts and Social Studies. I would bet that a lot of your philosophy coursework could count towards Social Studies. If I decide to add math and/or science, I can take my state's exams in those.

And certification is something you can pick up more easily after the BA in some states; I'm in an "alternative licensure" program through a community college and only have to take the bare minimum of education courses, part-time. I'm even getting paid while doing my "student teaching" since I'm actually a part-time teacher already. If your state has this sort of program, you could put it off until you're sure you're going this route.

I love the sewing idea too. At the very least, it will give you a creative outlet doing something you enjoy. I've been thinking about trying to do something similar with book-making, but haven't been able to do much with all I have right now. I keep telling myself I can do some when I get another thing off my plate.
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#8 of 8 Old 12-29-2010, 10:14 AM
 
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hi i'm late to the game here, but wanted to weigh in!  i'm in a master's program in THEOLOGY-- even less sexy than philosophy!!  i'm looking at phd programs in theo & phil and my partner is finishing his phd in ethics.  we are both people who've had a zillion jobs/careers and could always take jobs outside academia, so although we want primarily to teach and write, we have to keep reassuring ourselves that our studies are not about the job market but about enriching our souls and helping to contribute to the betterment of the world in the best way we can-- by learning about the structures of heteropatriarchy and white suprematism that form the foundation of western thought so we can DISMANTLE them!!!  so if i have to be someone with two master's degrees and a phd working in an office so my kid can have health insurance, i'm willing to do it; as long as i'm able to connect to good people and write and do activism and make art... even if only a little... i just feel like there is SO much to learn, and unlearn, and i want to be the mom who f-ing went for it, not the one who panicked when i got pregnant and took the "practical" route.

 

having said all this, i think it's SO smart to consider all the pros and cons... and i would strongly advise going into ANY doctoral program that is not fully funding you-- that is, full tuition remission and a stipend!  my partner has no stipend and it was fine when i was working but now that i'm back in grad school it's terrible.  if i do go to phd work i'm following the money!

 

hope this helps, and i'd love to KIT, punkrockmomma!  i'm due with my first on july 5, and i'm trying to hold onto my punk/feminst ethic while drowning in pregnancy hormones!!

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