Last year I drew a comic for the Shareable book Share or Die, chronicling some of the emotional turmoil of applying and getting rejected from PhD programs, and my conclusion that I should stop waiting for permission or credentials to do the work I love. Since then, I have had many conversations with many people at a similar standstill, trying to figure out how to carve a path for themselves in the new precariat reality, trying to do what they love and stay true to themselves while still paying the bills. In particular, I've been able to speak to many past, current, future, and prospective graduate students grappling with the desire to engage in academic research and to teach on a college level, in an economy where academic jobs are few and far between and our universities are in crisis. I think, despite its many and deep flaws, the university still represents a unique site of opportunity and resources for scholarship and learning, and despite my concerns, I decided to apply again. Perhaps because of the work I've done "without permission," I fared better this round and will be heading to grad school in the fall.
Wish me luck?