"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

5.07.2008

this is depressing

Both of the guys in the next office spent today cleaning out their office. The three of us are the last of our cohort (that's an entering class, for those of you lucky enough not to be academics) still in Austin, and both of them are leaving. One is throwing in the towel after six fruitless years; the other is moving away to be with his fiance while he finishes his dissertation.

Our class has one of the all-time worst attrition rates in our program's history. We started with 19, and while a couple of far-flung folks are still enrolled, we still number no more than 4 or 5. No one has earned a PhD in the six years we've been here. It depresses us all.

We're having a gathering of "the old people" on Friday; those of us who've been around for six years or more, before people graduate or quit or otherwise scatter to the four winds. It will be fun, it will be sad, and it will be so, so strange to realize that these people with whom I've lived daily life for the past six years will suddenly be gone. The reality of time passing, of turning 30, of losing colleagues and partly wanting to be leaving with them is all hitting at once, and it's not easy.

"It's going to be strange being the only one left next year," I told S, the one who's quitting, as he was tossing out several years' worth of issues of the American Political Science Review into the big trash can in our hallway.

"But, hey," he replied, "you won."

"I didn't win anything," I said. "I'm not done. Nobody has a degree yet."

"But you're the last one standing," he said.

It sure doesn't feel like winning.

3 Comments:

Blogger Gary Snowden said...

Hang in there, Laura. I was 33 when I completed my Ph.D. work and it was also a 6-year process for me. Part of that had to do with a speed bump in the road in the form of a guy who stole my potential dissertation topic after I had shared a 50+ page paper in a seminar that we had together. He was farther along in the program that I was and took my idea and used it. The prof was apologetic after the fact, but it put me back to square one for a good while.

At least you're living in a great place with a wonderful athletic program to follow. Hook 'em Horns!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008 4:06:00 PM

 
Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I was 32 when I completed my Ph.D. It was only a 5 year process, but took place while a fundamentalist takeover was destroying my institution!

What is happening in your program that no one is graduating and no new people are entering?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008 8:41:00 PM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

Excellent point, Gary. Michael, plenty of people are graduating and entering, just none from our cohort.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008 10:24:00 PM

 

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