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Academic Guidance Academic Guidance - Academic guidance for those pursuing a college degree... what college? Grad school? PhD help?


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Old August 2nd, 2017, 11:03 AM   #1
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Academic planning


Hiya.

So I'm not sure if this is fair to post on this website.

I've enrolled for a BA as a high school teacher in Dutch and History. Afterward though, I'd like to get into something more history related.

So here's a few questions.

1) What advise would you give someone who wants to go into such a field? Purely practical or otherwise. How do I start out, what do I need?

2) At this point I'm not entirely decided what direction I'll take specifically. Archivist? Archaeologist? Historian? All three are interesting in their own way, but there's also other things to consider, like professional opportunity.

3) I wanted to go to the UK, specifically Leeds. I keep hearing positive things about it. Are there any other places you might suggest? I'm also slightly worried about the increasing sway of politics into daily student life.

Anyway, thanks for your time!
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Old August 3rd, 2017, 11:38 AM   #2

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1. I'd recommend a Master's degree in a history subject. Is your course for history and Dutch split 50/50? I'm sure you'd qualify for a Master's in history.

2. Whichever one you most enjoy. If you become a Historian, I'm pretty sure you'd be able to work as an archaeologist if you wanted to, so you wouldn't necessarily need to pursue a degree in archaeology.

3. Leeds is a very good university - they have a solid history department, too. So I'd recommend Leeds.

Good luck with whatever you choose!
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Old August 18th, 2017, 03:26 AM   #3
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It depends on how your degree is structured. A 4 year double degree in education and history will give you two bites at the cherry. You will end up with two pieces of paper and you can decide what you want to do in the mean time. The caveat is the extra year and the students fees, and the amount of practical training you will have to do as a teacher.

As to the academic situation I can speak about that. The amount of people with a PHD is already over saturated. Here in Australia its something like 20% of all people with a PHD have a job, so its a long way to go to get a job in academics. Usually today's student goes the pathway of:

BA --> Honours --> PHD --> P.Doc and then thinks about where to go next. By then a young person might be in their 30s or early 40s before they get tenure depending on when they started out.

I've done B.Ed/B.A/Hons and now I'm 32, I started out at 25 and ended up doing my honours part time. By which time the average person could have trained to be a doctor or a lawyer.

How much do you want to be in academics? Really, do you want to be here or are you playing this game for fun? It's a long road to get anywhere, and I am now in a place with a highly ranked honours having received a distinction (A, A-) average across the honours program I was in and have a good opportunity to do something and I'm still second guessing myself. I got in the 75-84% band and ended on a Second Class first division (A level) Honours and I am still not sure about myself.

How much do you want to be there? The road to being a paid historian at a university doing research is long. Of course you can always write for yourself (with all the pitfalls of having to get your books/journals edited/peer reviewed)

The road to being an archivist is a separate post-graduate degree, and then where do you want to work? In a government, or in a library? The road to an archivist is usually a masters after completing a degree in art, history, library science, archival science or similar with a masters degree in archival, archival studies, records management, curating, or similar.

The road to being an archeologist is a completely different degree, you would have to do a science degree. The most "soft" of the sciences that are accepted to be an archeologist are geology and geography, you will have to at least do something like this and not a history degree. Some archeologists have majors in geophysics, biology, chemical and biomolecular sciences. Do you believe you are smart enough to make it through a geophysics major with good marks at the same time?

The only thing that crosses over into history is "archeological studies." You're not going to be an archeologist anyway. Most archeologists rely upon government grants and funding to do what you want and only the most elite in the field get funding. So you can scratch that idea. Unless you're really smart you're not going to go anywhere in modern archeology. It's really a pipe dream.

But You have to decide what you want to do:

1) Archeology now is a pure science degree, it falls entirely outside the scope of your initial proposition and its incredibly competitive anyway. It can be well paid if you're good enough to get in the top 10% of your career.
2) Archivists require a separate masters degree. Even then its never really a well paid job fir that level of study.
3) Teaching requires an education degree or at bare minimum a postgraduate diploma in teaching. It's respectable and modestly well paid in Europe, but not so much in America, or Australia. It's a lot of hours for that pay though, and a lot of the time you spend in a classroom will be simple child minding, child rearing, and behaviour management before you have any time to teach. Having been there there is endless meetings, staff meetings, whole of school meetings, meetings with your principal, meetings with parents, extracurricular activities and ongoing training to stay current in your particular area.
4) Academics is also highly competitive, and only the best of the best get there. Once you are there it can be extremely well paid, but you do a lot of hours, minding classes, marking, and then having to do research also if you want to get paid on the higher end of the spectrum.

The first thing is to work out what you want to do, and then we will be able to give you a more clear picture. I am smart enough to get to a point where I can apply to any university in this county to do a PHD. I have enough nous to get there and find a suitable supervisor. It just depends though, how hard are you willing to work? Where do you want to be in 10 years time? How hungry are you and what do you really want?

Last edited by orestes; August 18th, 2017 at 04:33 AM.
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Old August 18th, 2017, 06:04 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orestes View Post
1) Archeology now is a pure science degree, it falls entirely outside the scope of your initial proposition and its incredibly competitive anyway. It can be well paid if you're good enough to get in the top 10% of your career.
2) Archivists require a separate masters degree. Even then its never really a well paid job fir that level of study.
3) Teaching requires an education degree or at bare minimum a postgraduate diploma in teaching. It's respectable and modestly well paid in Europe, but not so much in America, or Australia. It's a lot of hours for that pay though, and a lot of the time you spend in a classroom will be simple child minding, child rearing, and behaviour management before you have any time to teach. Having been there there is endless meetings, staff meetings, whole of school meetings, meetings with your principal, meetings with parents, extracurricular activities and ongoing training to stay current in your particular area.
4) Academics is also highly competitive, and only the best of the best get there. Once you are there it can be extremely well paid, but you do a lot of hours, minding classes, marking, and then having to do research also if you want to get paid on the higher end of the spectrum.
I'm saying this as someone who comes from the continental European tradition, but here things are definitely a bit different:
1) Archeology is first and foremost a human science, i.e. a discipline where you will be taught ancient history, anthropology, ancient languages, cultural and social theory (depending on your department's area of focus). The amount of science classes varies between degrees and schools, but archeology definitely isn't "a pure science degree". However, here, too, it is enourmously competitive and I'm not even sure whether being in the top 10% is enough.
2) I work a lot in historical archives, both public and private ones, and most staff are trained historians (BA/MA/ and the top position are often held by PhDs). There certainly is no need to study archival science. In fact, of all the archivists I know of, most are either historians or received vocational training; only a few studied archival science, administration science or law. However, a point to note would be that those historians working in archives usually were making heavy use of archival sources during their studies. Furthermore, there are similar roles such as librarian or documentation officer you would also qualify for as a historian.
3) and 4) are the same, I guess.
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Old August 18th, 2017, 06:30 AM   #5
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This differs by country and system I guess as always, my experience is from Australia. Archeology in Australia has almost entirely become a pure science degree the lesser form being "archeological studies" where you will find lots of people with history backgrounds.

In Australia it's definitely required to have an archival degree by regulation to work in archival these days. I guess I should have also not generalised about the facts of the matter for Europe. It's quite interesting to discuss the differences with studies across the world being substantially different it often pays not to generalise.

I long wanted to be an archeologist (one of my childhood dreams) until I found out how competitive it was and how hard it is to get into. I have thought about doing a masters degree in archival science but there is not much work anyway in Australia once you're qualified as an archivist and relative to most places in the world the pay is low.

If I were going to enter into a career in Australia I'd be more likely at this point either going to take my Honours concentration in "society and culture" and go somewhere where its either less competitive such as sociology/social work. I can do a qualifying degree to work as a social worker relatively painlessly from where my concentration landed me.

I have been a fully qualified teacher and I decided it wasn't my calling. Its A lot of invisible hours above and beyond the norm that is seen by the average person and there is often not enough recognition here in Australia for what teachers do.

I'm weighing up going onto a full PHD right now and I have a number of highly qualified potential supervisors that would be more than willing to take someone like myself on, but you have to be one of those students that is willing to be in that 75-84% band with your marks across your entire degree to be considered, and preferably you would rather be in the 85-100% band with your marks to gain access to scholarships and etc. If you don't think you can write at a standard where you are hitting those high standards 100% of the time then I would strenuously advise not considering an academic pathway.

Last edited by orestes; August 18th, 2017 at 06:33 AM.
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Old August 18th, 2017, 07:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orestes View Post
This differs by country and system I guess as always, my experience is from Australia. Archeology in Australia has almost entirely become a pure science degree the lesser form being "archeological studies" where you will find lots of people with history backgrounds.
Well, it's not like I could speak for all of continental Europe, either. Surely there are some departments here where archeology is more of a science. Usually, from my experience, however, the archeology departments are thoroughly integrated into the faculties of classical and ancient studies, or into those of ethnology and anthropology.
Quote:
In Australia it's definitely required to have an archival degree by regulation to work in archival these days. I guess I should have also not generalised about the facts of the matter for Europe. It's quite interesting to discuss the differences with studies across the world being substantially different it often pays not to generalise.
I was thinking of historical archives in particular so you might not be wrong with regard to "non-historical" archives in Europe. I just thought that someone interested in history will be interested in this kind of archives, rather than working in a more "modern" environment. For example, while many larger companies have their own historical archives where they collect all documents pertaining to their business from basically day 1, others corporation have archives solely for the purpose of keeping documents for only 20 years or even less. sometimes they only keep records relevant to running contracts and throw away literally everything else. In these cases, I guess, being an archival scientists is more useful.

Quote:
I long wanted to be an archeologist (one of my childhood dreams) until I found out how competitive it was and how hard it is to get into. I have thought about doing a masters degree in archival science but there is not much work anyway in Australia once you're qualified as an archivist and relative to most places in the world the pay is low.

If I were going to enter into a career in Australia I'd be more likely at this point either going to take my Honours concentration in "society and culture" and go somewhere where its either less competitive such as sociology/social work. I can do a qualifying degree to work as a social worker relatively painlessly from where my concentration landed me.

I have been a fully qualified teacher and I decided it wasn't my calling. Its A lot of invisible hours above and beyond the norm that is seen by the average person and there is often not enough recognition here in Australia for what teachers do.

I'm weighing up going onto a full PHD right now and I have a number of highly qualified potential supervisors that would be more than willing to take someone like myself on, but you have to be one of those students that is willing to be in that 75-84% band with your marks across your entire degree to be considered, and preferably you would rather be in the 85-100% band with your marks to gain access to scholarships and etc. If you don't think you can write at a standard where you are hitting those high standards 100% of the time then I would strenuously advise not considering an academic pathway.
My personal opinion on this would be to ignore the marks. Yours are good enough. Working at the PhD level is different from getting good results as a BA/MA student and if you are not a total failure as a writer and hard worker with a bit of creativity, you are much more suited for a PhD than scoring above the 90% line all the time during your previous degrees. The most important path to scholarships, at least in my experience, are an innovative and well fleshed out research proposal as well as networking activities. As you have the network part going for you, or so it seems with you potential supervisors, the proposal will be the decisive element in your applications. But then again, I don't know Australia. If marks really are that important over there, it's probably right to think about a PhD deeply before starting.

Last edited by Entreri; August 18th, 2017 at 07:33 AM.
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Old August 18th, 2017, 08:08 AM   #7
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I have enough weight in marks and could very well consider going down the same pathway as my honours project. It actually fills in to an active area of historical studies and the archival of the voices of migrant groups that won't be around for much longer.

In my case I worked on the Greek migrant experience, the concept of death, and the similarities migrants experience in leaving a particular country and being considered dead to their relatives abroad in Greece, unpacking it through the lens of "xenitia" or the state of trauma in being a foreigner in another country due to diasporic activities. Given the close nature to other groups (holocaust survivors) there is a wealth of research pathways for further study in this particular area. Some interesting ones involve the nature of Virtual Reality in preserving the legacy of holocaust survivors. Of course anything to do with memory and history seems to be well regarded at the moment.

I have some ideas for supervisors and using networking to get there. Thats the "nous" of doing it. Making yourself well known to your supervisor, and their associates in your faculty, and asking them who they can introduce you to as potential future supervisors for your research.
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Old August 18th, 2017, 09:00 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orestes View Post
I have enough weight in marks and could very well consider going down the same pathway as my honours project. It actually fills in to an active area of historical studies and the archival of the voices of migrant groups that won't be around for much longer.

In my case I worked on the Greek migrant experience, the concept of death, and the similarities migrants experience in leaving a particular country and being considered dead to their relatives abroad in Greece, unpacking it through the lens of "xenitia" or the state of trauma in being a foreigner in another country due to diasporic activities. Given the close nature to other groups (holocaust survivors) there is a wealth of research pathways for further study in this particular area. Some interesting ones involve the nature of Virtual Reality in preserving the legacy of holocaust survivors. Of course anything to do with memory and history seems to be well regarded at the moment.

I have some ideas for supervisors and using networking to get there. Thats the "nous" of doing it. Making yourself well known to your supervisor, and their associates in your faculty, and asking them who they can introduce you to as potential future supervisors for your research.
If you have all this, it seems you are as well prepared for an academic career as one could possible be, especially as your topic seems to be perfectly line with current trends (memory, migration, diaspora).
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