Academia and Rudeness

Hacking employment, improving work, professional development
riparian
Posts: 650
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:00 am

Academia and Rudeness

Post by riparian »

I got accepted to an awesome graduate program that I basically get to invent. (This is not for the purpose of getting a job later).

But everyone is so busy, rude, and disrespectful all the time! It's crazy! I'm catching on that they treat everyone (and each other) this way, but holy shit. I honestly have not been around such disrespectful people since I was a teen ward of the state.

I've made it a practice not to deal with disrespectful people in business or friendships for the last 15 years or so and it's made me quite happy.

If I set aside the interpersonal aspects, I'm left feeling (did I just say that if I put aside my feelings I feel? So INFP LOL) two things:

1 - attempting to get this degree may be a risky enterprise because people simply don't, for example, answer emails about things that need to be done for registration.

2 - what's the point in paying for my young mind to be nurtured if the professors don't have time to read and respond to my assignments, much less my questions? I'm thinking that if you go to a much more expensive school maybe you actually get this?

But people get through grad school all the time. I must just be too sensitive?

Should I do it or not?

lilacorchid
Posts: 476
Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2011 3:20 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Academia and Rudeness

Post by lilacorchid »

No advice, but wanted to say that you aren't the first person I've heard say this.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 11982
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Academia and Rudeness

Post by jacob »

That was never my experience. I've only really met one a-hole in academia and that was a German prof from another university which might just have gotten out on the wrong side of the bed that day. Otherwise admins and profs have all been very nice/helpful/friendly when adjusted for nationality. Of course a few were hard to work with but I never felt disrespected.

Note that this was in physics which is a rather informal field with very little bs, everybody being on a first name basis, nobody pushing their titles, etc. In terms of sensitivity, my lifetime cumulative a-hole list is only about 5 people long (not counting random redditors and yahoos), so consider this a calibration.

RealPerson
Posts: 802
Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:33 pm

Re: Academia and Rudeness

Post by RealPerson »

I never had to deal with disrespectful people in my grad program. In fact, it was probably was of my best experiences ever.

I don't think there is any way you will be able to tolerate such levels of disrespect for the duration of the program. Especially with your independent lifestyle history and your choice not to deal with a-holes. Maybe now is a good time to reconsider, before investing time and money.

Sorry to hear. It sounds like you were really looking forward to it.

mikeBOS
Posts: 569
Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2010 6:46 am
Contact:

Re: Academia and Rudeness

Post by mikeBOS »

I've heard stories of outright sabotage in the hard science graduate programs at top schools. Including things like messing with other people's lab experiments when they're not around just to intentional screw them up or delay their research to give themselves a competitive edge.

So many people aren't there to learn. They're there to achieve and receive recognition for it in a desperate attempt for approval. They see it as a competition rather than as an opportunity to learn from each other and explore a passion in a mutual interest.

I think the best you can do is to try to seek out a few friends and just try to avoid the people who aren't worth your time. I also know the general academic culture can vary a lot from dept to dept and from school to school. So maybe you just stumbled into one of the less collegial schools.

Chad
Posts: 3848
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:10 pm

Re: Academia and Rudeness

Post by Chad »

That sucks. It's not the experience I had. At worst they were indifferent, but those times were mainly because the student had exhibited the same indifference 90% of the time. Any student that put forth effort in my grad program got tons of help and time from the professors and admin at the school. Nothing is perfect, but I had no issues.

The professor even went so far as to have a representative of the EU fly to the US for our research on the EU. I don't know what favors he had to pull in for that.

Tyler9000
Posts: 1638
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:45 pm

Re: Academia and Rudeness

Post by Tyler9000 »

In my experience, the friendliness of academics is directly proportional to how easy it is to quantify their area of expertise to others.

On one end, engineering and math professors are generally pretty helpful because their work is either right or wrong and not a matter of opinion. The smartest ones are comfortable demonstrating solutions or talking about real-life experience and have no need to talk down to you. On the other end are fields like art or ____-studies where the work is 100% subjective and purposefully unquantifiable. The leading "experts" are necessarily a-holes because supreme confidence is the only piece of data they're able to sell. Other fields lie somewhere in between. Gray areas include things like climate science and particle physics, where the data is unknown, vague, purely hypothesized, or otherwise impossible to demonstrate to a layman. These guys can go either way.

But the general rule of thumb is that if you come across a very rude "expert" he's probably full of shit.

Dragline
Posts: 4450
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2011 1:50 am

Re: Academia and Rudeness

Post by Dragline »

I suspect that I was more rude to my teachers than they were to me. Then again, I was more of a back-row bomb-thrower than a front-row brown-noser. I liked to write imaginary people into the seating chart. "I.P. Nightly" never made it to class, but did get called upon occasionally.

I'd have to say law school was a lot more different than engineering school. More arrogance than rudeness, though.

The science profs were generally much more entertaining. I had one Prof. Ricardo Gomez who taught us relativity who was about 5 feet tall with wild gray hair and a thick Colombian accent. He would run back and forth across the lecture stage yelling things like: "Suppose I am a proton accelerated to three-quarters the speed of light!"

He would also say "Mahss, it is mahss, it is mahss -- it doesn't matter if its a you or a me or a box of bees." Except with his accent the last part always sounded like "box of piss".

Then he would refer to MIT as "The Factory on the River". I still call it that.

llorona
Posts: 392
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:44 pm
Location: SF Bay Area

Re: Academia and Rudeness

Post by llorona »

The way I see it, you are paying tuition with an expectation that a certain level of service will be delivered, such as a response when you pose questions to registration staff or professors. If you're being shortchanged, maybe it's time to consider a different program or school.

FWIW, I'm sorry to hear about your experience. I attended grad school at a large urban state university, and most of my professors were very welcoming and delighted about nurturing our minds -- including responding to emails, making time to answer questions, and even inviting groups of us to their home on occasion.

Now, some of my fellow students were a-holes, but that was because it was a graduate business program and we were "capitalist piglets in training", as one professor used to remind us.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 11982
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Academia and Rudeness

Post by jacob »

This would definitely NOT be the way the faculty in the sciences and the humanities sees it. The faraway administration might think of education/degrees as a businesslike transaction with implied consumer grade standards (and put pressure on the faculty accordingly, especially the untenured ones), but the faculty likes to think they're teaching (a student--teacher relationship) rather than delivering a product (a consumer--retail relationship). In fact they would consider the latter attitude somewhat offensive. Of course the reality---which faculty will admit to in their more cynical moments---is that graduate students are providing cheap labor (at 1/3-1/2 the price of industry for equal training) with the option that some actually may produce some worthwhile (=publishable, it's the sole measure of value in academia) research down the road. It tends to take a couple of years of sunk costs before that happens.

But paying for an education-product ... perish the thought.

riparian
Posts: 650
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:00 am

Re: Academia and Rudeness

Post by riparian »

So my committee chair continued to not answer my email about information needed to register until someone told her to. Then instead of answering my questions she was just like, "well it's so nice that you're here and I hope you'll consider taking this class, could you skype?"

I answered that I'd answer her question if she answered mine and she answered basically saying to forget everything on the plan (that we all had to like, agree in and sign and I had to write a thing justifying why it was a good plan), and that I need to demonstrate rigor by taking whatever classes she says (ie, classes in her department that need numbers), and that we should guard against the "exploitation" of independent study classes which are on my plan by only allowing me to take then if I also take the classes she needs filled. Oh, and there was this research class I needed to take before doing my research. I already took *a* research methods class, but she wanted me to take hers and agreed to let me take it independently this semester since it wasn't being offered. Now she's all no way no how doing that (even tho it's on the plan she signed) and I just need to take a research methods class and none are being offered for like a year. Luckily I already took *a* research methods class.

I don't even know. I emailed her back and asked if we could negotiate in writing to follow the plan if I did the one extra class this semester.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 11982
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Academia and Rudeness

Post by jacob »

Sounds like you're still dealing with the bureaucratic aspects. What does your adviser say to this?

BTW before confusion and generalizations ensue, are we talking PhD or Masters? And what general field?

riparian
Posts: 650
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:00 am

Re: Academia and Rudeness

Post by riparian »

jacob wrote:Sounds like you're still dealing with the bureaucratic aspects. What does your adviser say to this?

BTW before confusion and generalizations ensue, are we talking PhD or Masters? And what general field?
My committee chair is my advisor? Or at least I don't have a separate one.

It's an MA and the field is basically sociology. I already have 9 related graduate credits at this institution and am basically trying to continue a project from another class. To satisfy the official university requirements all I need is 3 classes and research/thesis.

riparian
Posts: 650
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:00 am

Re: Academia and Rudeness

Post by riparian »

I guess it also might be worth saying that the grad program I have been in found out about some activism I'm involved in and is extremely disapproving and might be working up to kicking me out. And I've never really been able to, uh, integrate with society? I mean, I get along with most everyone really well but jobs, schools, etc., it just never works out.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 11982
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Academia and Rudeness

Post by jacob »

I can't say much about the masters level in the humanities. I would expect such a program to mostly follow prescription checking off courses and writing a thesis that is more "mechanical" in that the experts already know what the answer is supposed to look like (but don't have enough time to do the work themselves) and mainly has their students go through a prescribed procedure for getting that answer. For a PhD you have fewer courses and the experts don't really know what the answer is supposed to look like.

riparian
Posts: 650
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:00 am

Re: Academia and Rudeness

Post by riparian »

It's not like that. I mean, it probably would be if I signed up for a standard cookie cutter degree, but I wouldn't do that cause I could just get the reading list.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 11982
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Academia and Rudeness

Post by jacob »

riparian wrote:It's not like that. I mean, it probably would be if I signed up for a standard cookie cutter degree, but I wouldn't do that cause I could just get the reading list.
So are you sure that the committee and you are in the same page here?

riparian
Posts: 650
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:00 am

Re: Academia and Rudeness

Post by riparian »

That's what I was describing in the post above...

riparian
Posts: 650
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:00 am

Re: Academia and Rudeness

Post by riparian »

...and I'm out. Fuck the system? This was our literal conversation:

Her: I have to look at the documentation that's in front of me.
Me: Here are two different forms of documentation that I've put in front of you, why aren't you willing to look at them?
Her: I'd like to resign as your committee chair.
Me: LOL

User avatar
jennypenny
Posts: 6383
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:20 pm
Location: Stepford USA

Re: Academia and Rudeness

Post by jennypenny »

That sucks, rip. I'm sorry.

Post Reply