Considering an Academic Career? A Review of The Professor is In

Ryan Eidson  —  January 5, 2017

Academic Career: The Professor is In book reviewI recently read the book The Professor is In by Karen Kelsky. Though I don’t agree with her worldview, I do appreciate how she describes the tenure-track professor/academic career environment, especially in the humanities. She spent many years in top-tier universities.

I Picked Up The Professor is In to Consider an Academic Career

The subtitle is The Essential Guide to Turning Your Ph.D. Into a Job. At one time I considered pursuing a career path as a professor; this book helped me see what that would look like. After reading this book (and corresponding with a former professor of mine), I decided a purely academic career is not the route I want to go.

Three Chapters Worth the Purchase Price

The chapter on “Ph.D. Debt and Ethical Advising” really put the hammer down on the “scandal” of the system I’ve heard much about in recent years: student loans. I was already aware of the student loan crisis in this country (some are even calling it the next bubble after the 2008 housing bubble). This chapter (57) solidified my decision to not become an adjunct somewhere or go tenure track.

The “Foolproof Grant Proposal Template” (p. 339) is based on the hero’s journey framework. I found this fascinating.

Another great chapter was “100+ Skills that Translate Outside the Academy” (chapter 60, p. 396ff). The explanations of these skills can help you explain your strengths to other people.

If you can read past the parts you may disagree with, and focus on the practical skills and years of experience displayed in this book, it is a good help for those in (or near) the academy. Many of the chapters started as posts on her blog; if you want to browse the topic first, start there. If you’re serious about becoming a professor (or you’re currently in a Ph.D. program), I recommend you read this book.


Ryan Eidson


I have the unique ability to make complex ideas easy to understand. I am the author of A Couple with Common Cents and live in rural Missouri.