At Inside Higher Ed, Nate Kreuter wonders why some graduate students — even those who have been warned about poor job prospects in academia — seem "incapable of hearing" the bad news. Perhaps, he says, "the very same qualities that lead many graduate students to pursue higher degrees are the qualities that make them incapable of hearing and processing even the most dire warnings about their professional prospects." More specifically, Kreuter says those can make it "impossible for many graduate students to understand … that everybody in their cohort is just as smart and hardworking as they themselves are. At the graduate level, the smarts and diligence that once set students apart from their undergraduate peers will no longer set them apart, but merely allow them to keep up."
Overall, Kreuter says, "the bad academic job market that my cohort was warned about has become the abysmal job market that leads advisers to now say things to their grad students along the lines of 'I don't know. It's always been bad, but it's never been this bad.'" And that, he says, should not be taken lightly.