Catharine R. Stimpson (Dean
of the Graduate School of Arts & Science,
New York University)
Stimpson's essay on graduate education
Even at its best, graduate school can provoke anxiety and frustration. In order to get through and beyond these feelings, a graduate student has to remember the why of being there, the why of having enrolled for an advanced degree. I went to graduate school because I needed to create a career and earn a living. However, creating a career and earning a living, although necessary, were not sufficient. I wanted work that I could take seriously, even passionately, work that mattered to me and that I thought I could do well and that embodied the values of human dignity and freedom.
Being an intellectual and an academic represented this kind of work for me, and I went to graduate school in order the get the doctorate that would enable me to do it, and I have never ever regretted having done so.
I love what I do, and feel privileged to be able to do it in a world so full of pain and cruelty and poverty and dead-end jobs. Friends also help during graduate school, even one friend who understands what its demands and routines are. It is a hard path to tread alone.