Sunday, April 05, 2009

A Love/Hate Relationship

I have a love/hate relationship with a website: Rate Your Students. Billed as "an oasis in the academic desert" (among other things), RYS is a place where academics from around the globe, but mainly it seems from the States, can post about their job in a frank and open manner. It started in reaction against the "Rate My Professors" website, where students can post anonymous comments and reviews of professors and their courses. Those in academia wanted a similar forum to unload on students, their jobs and the problems inherent in the system- and do they ever.

RYS looks beyond the Ivory Tower and gives a grittier, more realistic portrait of academia. At times it can be instructive and gives me hope, but the vast majority of it makes me depressed that I ever chose academia. It also makes me fearful of my future job prospects and ability to flourish in such an environment. Some days reading RYS can leave my stomach in knots of anxiety and ramp up those feelings of being unprepared, an abysmal failure and completely unsuited for graduate school, let alone teaching.

I only read RYS sparingly because of the negative reaction it gives me. I'll usually check in once or twice a month at most and read a bunch of pages in a row until I sicken myself and leave. Every once in a while I'll find something worth holding on to and remembering for later, which is what keeps me coming back. I know there are a lot of things wrong with post-secondary education, and I don't particularly see things changing in the near future. I think it would be healthier for me if I could just quit that site, but I keep getting drawn back in.

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