Your Money or Your Life!

I’ve noticed that some scholars like to wear their alma mater as a badge of honor. I’m convinced that the wise choice for serious thinking is a doctoral program at a smaller and less funded university. A smaller university affords one with the time for thinking. For example, at Trent University I had one or two courses per year. This provided me with the time I needed to read and to publish. In one year I’ve published more than most scholars are able to publish in several years. My experience at larger and more prestigious universities (like Queen’s University) is the opposite: I truly did not have time for thinking because all of my time was dedicated to the coursework. Moreover, I had to focus on the coursework that professors wanted their students to get excited about. Lacan once quipped about the false choice forced upon the sad victim of a mugger: “Your money or your life!” If you offer the mugger your life you are also offering him your money. I think the choice is similar to the one you make when you decide to go for prestige and attend a larger and better funded university. You end up giving the university lots of money (even if the funding package is higher) and also lots of time. You lose your time for thinking. You end up learning how to satisfy your professors, publishers, and other people. At the smaller university you have the more sane choice of losing just a little bit of money … but you gain a life.

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