Should you keep going to school? If you wish to teach at a college, in the humanities, should you try? What about the market? Any advice I give to anyone I do not know can only be generally true, so in the particulars dubious. Anything can happen and nobody should simply give up on a dream due to the practical wisdom of the moment. God has done miracles and nothing I have done is the result of anything other than grace, mercy, and miracles.
Do not discard the calling.
Still, the pursuit of a college teaching job at a traditional college right now is like deciding to be a professional athlete. Somebody will make it, probably not people like we are. This is not fair. Things were easier in my dad’s era, harder for my generation, and very much more difficult for anyone going to school in an era when years of administrative incompetence is coming due and the number of students is shrinking due to predictable demographic change.
None of this is your fault if you wish to be a college teacher, but ’tis true nonetheless. We stand at educational Armageddon and we battle for the Lord’s students. So how can we help? God does miracles, but how best to put ourselves in the way of miracles?
First, let the educational dead bury the dead. The schools sold out to burgeoning administration cannot handle the days to come. They will try to slash faculty and workers. Binders of plans will be implemented and more than one will hire high priced consultants to tell them what faculty told them years ago: demographics, culture, and God are not on their side. If you want a job, become a consultant, but like Gordon Ramsey with restaurants few will be salvageable. There are fewer students in the years to come, culture will not favor the moral equivalent of a debt driven four year gap program, and God has never been fond of usury.
If you care about teaching and research, the jobs will shrink. Of course, a few will get work. A few always do and God does miracles in the darkest places. There are many institutions worth a rear guard action and more than one will be saved as professors dedicated to teaching and students manage to take over and bring schools back to their original purpose. A sign of this coming will be when an institution is purged of everyone who does not teach or research.
Second, very wealthy schools or flagship state schools will survive. If you can catch on there and do God’s work, then do so. Those jobs will be rare and to gain them you must earn a doctorate at the most prestigious university. You must publish quickly while in graduate school. You also will have to find an advocate inside the academy to help you land the rare job. If you cannot work at this level (and few can), then do not waste time on third rate doctoral programs. These were set up to increase the prestige of marginal schools, themselves in danger of failing in the new economy. They will use you, but you will soon be unemployed. Yet there are in more than one fine institution those who did not bow to Baal. If you can find these allies, then you can help them in the daring attempt to save their institutions from destruction.This is a worthwhile fight. Do not compromise your values. Mayhap a few Browncoats will win.
Third, if you love an area and wish to study for the sake of study, find a mentor. Wherever that mentor works, then studying with him or her is worth your time. This is not about getting a job, but about learning for the sake of learning. You may have to work in another field to earn your bread, but no time is wasted following a master teacher and gaining wisdom. Do this if you feel called, yet do not anticipate that this also will be how you earn money.
The world is not moving in that direction. In all ages, the person who finds the wise and learns has chosen a good thing. Those folk can be found in many places. If you find one, go there. Work there if you have to volunteer at first and grow with those who love teaching, research, and building saints for Paradise.
Consider starting something new. Imagine schooling that integrates all levels of education. Start simply and build up. Find a classical Christian school and push them toward adding a college program. Innovate in ways that I cannot describe, because I am older and still too bound by convention. Consider what matters, what you would die to see advance into the next one hundred years, and then act to save those things. Let everything else, including good things, go. In doing this, put the welfare of people (faculty, students) above programs always.
Finally, loyalty will be most rare in this coming era. Find a school, program, or institution that backs their folks best they can. Find a place where the dialectic is honored and administration would rather cut itself than you.
Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.