Happy Doc Student Podcast

Are We Teaching Students To Be Unhappy? with Dr. Leonard Cassuto

November 10, 2021 Heather Frederick, PhD Episode 53
Happy Doc Student Podcast
Are We Teaching Students To Be Unhappy? with Dr. Leonard Cassuto
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Show Notes

Are we teaching students to be unhappy? 

In this episode, I chat with Dr. Leonard Cassuto. He is a professor of English at Fordham University. He writes the graduate advisor column for the Chronicle of Higher Education and has been on the graduate education frontline for years – publishing The Graduate School Mess – What Caused It and How We Can Fix It in 2015 and more recently co-authoring The New PhD: How to Build A Better Graduate Education with Dr. Robert Weisbuch.

They argue that graduate school has been preparing PhD students for jobs that don’t exist and encouraging students to want those jobs to the detriment of their career success and personal wellbeing. 

8 – 4 – 2 – 1
8 people begin, 4 complete, of those only 2 end up in a tenured track job and only 1 of those 2 end up at a research university/university like where they went to grad school.

How do we teach students how to be happy and satisfied?
Three major themes

  1. Career diversity - 
    • Degree leads to expertise in other social sectors. No shortage of jobs if you are creative – skills you learn can apply to nearly every career imaginable.
    • Career counseling – what to do with what you know.
  2.  Socially engaged / Public Facing – Apply what you know  
    • Higher education should benefit all of society – let’s reform graduate school so that it illustrates public good that higher ed is and should be. 
  3. Student-Centered – versus functionary of faculty research
    • Care for the student – Ethically and responsibly


  • Administrators – create the structure that allows change to happen – the buck stops at the president’s office. Empower the graduate deans. 
  • Faculty – need to understand that students become first – this is a push back against history – implied and practical understanding that it is NOT for students it is an off-shot of faculty research
  • Students – you have a choice – be the CEO of your graduate education – you will live the choices you make and that will become the life you live. Be thoughtful, aware, and informed. 

 We’ve known what the problems are – time to do something about it!
Listeners can receive a 30% discount on The New PhD with the code HTWN from the publisher’s site, press.jhu.edu

Connect with Len
twitter: @LCassuto
instagram: l_cassuto 

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