Warning, rant ahead.
You may not have heard this but the economy sucks.
You know what else? Being a grad student sucks, too.
I’m trying to finish my dissertation (got all the chapters written and a couple revised) and I’m sick of being poor. This is especially true now that it doesn’t look like I’ll be teaching in the fall and no teaching = no money.
This stinks but to make things worse, I’m going to a conference in a couple months and the student rate is over $200. The student rate??? WTF? Let’s just put that in perspective: In my department when I did have funding I made less than $13,000 a year. Then you add in airfare to the conference. Right now the cheapest flight I can find is $339. Then you add in a hotel. Of course the conference isn’t held in a Day’s Inn or some cheap hotel. The conference hotel’s “conference rate” with $447. Split 3 ways (I’m going with two other people) that’s $149 a person. Now we’re up to $688 and that’s if I don’t eat anything the whole time I’m there and somehow get to the airport and back for free. At the very least then this conference would take up over 5% of my year’s salary — assuming I had a salary.
Now obviously the conference can’t be held responsible for the cost of airfare but over $200 for students and being at an expensive hotel? Of course you can stay at another hotel and save some money but then have to walk all around a strange city. I did that at one conference and when I arrived in the city and got a taxi the driver said, “are you sure you really want to go there?” and I ended up making sure I was back in the hotel before dark every day. And of course there are travel grants and things that some conferences give but how many of those do they give? I’ve never seen a conference give out more than can be counted on one hand.
Then there is also the price of books. Recently a book came out that sounds like something I really need to read for my dissertation. The price? $99. For a book. Textbooks are often more expensive but often they can be resold. The good news is that this particular book is also available as an electronic version (only password protected pdf as far as I can tell and not on the kindle or nook). The bad news? The ebook is also $99. (ok, to be fair I found one site selling it for the rock bottom price of $89…). I know authors don’t really have any say in the price (which is why I’m not naming the book. I’m not here to shame a fellow academic by any means.) but $99 for an ebook seems a bit of a markup to me. I’ll try to get it through interlibrary loan but since the book just came out the library may say that it is too new to get that way (something I’ve been told before).
I can’t wait until I get tenure. Not only will I never wear pants again but I’ll go out to eat without checking my wallet first…
ok, rant over….