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News Physics Graduate Student killed himself because of unemployment

  1. Apr 7, 2013 #1
    Very sad story but true.Philip Elliott recently completed his doctorate degree in Physics. He was not able to find any job and decided to take a call center job. Graduate Programs are supposed to make people successful in academia. I feel very sorry for this guy.

    Here is the full story.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...b-centre-qualified-for.html?ito=feeds-newsxml
     
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  3. Apr 7, 2013 #2

    arildno

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    To be harsh:
    It is the entirely predictable result of making higher education "free" and into a "right" for everybody.
    The simple truth is there simply is no economic need for "higher educated" on those large scales; most jobs existing today do NOT require 5 or 6 academic schooling (several though, requires many years of apprenticeship, which is something quite different).
     
  4. Apr 7, 2013 #3
    Well, people don't into Doctoral degrees for making money or getting great paying jobs. They really love their subject and passionate about it. You might say there is no need for higher educated people but the world progressed a lot due to these people. Without the fundamental laws of physics, Engineers wouldn't be able to produce hi-tech devices and everything we take for granted might not be possible with out these people. I really feel for this guy. It needs a lot of courage and patience to obtain a graduate degree in physics.
     
  5. Apr 7, 2013 #4

    arildno

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    "You might say there is no need for higher educated people but the world progressed a lot due to these people"

    Not really. Carpenters, factory developers and engineers have been far more important in developing "progress" than PhD-graduates.
     
  6. Apr 7, 2013 #5
    I am not under estimating the impotance of Engineers,I am studying an Engineering degree. But, I feel physics graduates are equally important for the growth.
    For example,consider the possibilty of a quantum computer.Research in such a subject can bring a revolution in processor speed and technolgy.
     
  7. Apr 7, 2013 #6

    ZapperZ

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    Really? Who do you think invented the transistors, understood the basic properties of semiconductors for applications, come up with the diagnostic tools to study everything from DNA to medical drugs, etc... etc.? You didn't think a carpenter came up with the electron microscope or a PET scan, did you?

    In a few years time, when we start making use of graphene and bendable 3D projection screen, I'm sure we will all forget where they started and who made the progress and invention.

    Zz.
     
  8. Apr 7, 2013 #7

    arildno

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    And if you believe that those who historically have driven forth progress (social/technological, economical) are PhDs, then you would be empirically dead wrong, until the 1950s or so. After that, THEN it is certainly true have joined the progressors (the chemists joining the league a half-century earlier or so). (Still, they are by no means alone, or supreme in that)

    But, you have already forgotten that back history, haven't you?
     
  9. Apr 7, 2013 #8
    If he meant to kill himself and didn't just accidentally fall, then I think most of this information about him is irrelevant. Mentally healthy people normally don't kill themselves because they run into hardships. The issue is the poor guy was probably mentally ill.
     
  10. Apr 7, 2013 #9

    ZapperZ

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    Or have YOU forgotten what you wrote:

    Where did you make a qualification or caveat that you only CARED about "until the 1950's"? Furthermore, this is awfully silly. It's like saying that the cavemen didn't need a PhD to invent fire!

    Look at what you wrote. You made wholesale dismissal of the contribution of those with PhDs. And the fact that with a more complicated world we live in, practically ALL of the current advancement that we have made int he 20th century were made by those WITH PhDs!

    Or are you denying those inventions and progress that I've listed?

    Zz.
     
  11. Apr 7, 2013 #10

    arildno

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    Where is "the wholesale dismissal"??? I don't see it. I said "have been". Which happens to be true.
    Nor are everyone else than yourself a caveman, just because you are a professional physicist.
     
  12. Apr 7, 2013 #11

    ZapperZ

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    "have been" can easily mean "until NOW". Read again what you wrote that I quoted, and tell me where it is clear under what time frame you were referring to. And it is quite obvious you missed the whole meaning of the "caveman" inference. Oh well....

    I'm surprised you are this flimsy with your words.

    Zz.
     
  13. Apr 7, 2013 #12
    Until we see data showing that the suicide rates of phds are significantly greater than those of high-school dropouts there is not much to say on this topic.Looks like really bad journalism to me.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2013
  14. Apr 7, 2013 #13
    The point I am trying to make is he didn't kill himself for nothing. He could not find a job and under employed in a call center which eventually caused the depression.
    Don't you think the job market for physics graduates is becoming more difficult?
     
  15. Apr 7, 2013 #14

    arildno

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    Not really, because what I DID write was: "those who historically have driven forth progress"

    If you think history began back in the caveman age of the 1950s, that's really your problem.
     
  16. Apr 7, 2013 #15

    ZapperZ

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    It is becoming difficult, especially in most of the western world where economic and budget cuts are rampant. However, this isn't true elsewhere. I see a lot of Chinese physics PhDs, who used to stay in the US and Europe upon graduation, going back to China and gaining quite lucrative employment.

    Secondly, the news article did not mention what this student majored or specialized in. I can point to you areas of physics in which we are SEEKING graduates (accelerator physics, detector physics, for examples). I've stated this many times before: what you majored in, what you have expertise in, and what you have skills in, all contribute very significantly in your "employability".

    When I was in graduate school, a more junior physics graduate student hanged himself in his dorm room. People were quick to guess that it was a rigor and stress studying for the qualifying exam. No one is denying that there is such a stress, but we don't see massive suicides among all the students studying for such tests throughout the years. So it can't be simply due to that, and it wasn't. He had other issues.

    The same goes here. We shouldn't trivialize this situation as simply him not being able to find a job. There are a lot of others in similar situation that did not take their lives.

    Zz.
     
  17. Apr 7, 2013 #16
    Oh! I don't know about other countries. In India, the unemployment rates for a PhD are really high about 13%. As I am thinking of getting a graduate degree in Physics, this really terrifies me..
     
  18. Apr 7, 2013 #17
    Yeah, I read a lot of your threads and I know that a lot of factors account for getting a job. Suppose someone wants do a Doctoral degree in High Energy theory. Do you think it's better to switch to employable fields like Condensed matter and Accelerator Physics??
     
  19. Apr 7, 2013 #18
    You may be right, but I'm not sure there was enough information in the article to really know.

    And there was no evidence mentioned in the article to show that his inability to land a physics job had anything to do with his suicide, it was just speculation.
     
  20. Apr 7, 2013 #19

    russ_watters

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    That sounds like exactly the thinking that could lead to the suicide in the story you linked. It is harsh reality: unless you are independently wealthy, the purpose of college is to prepare you for a career so you don't find yourself 31 years old and with no job prospects and therefore unable to support yourself.
     
  21. Apr 7, 2013 #20

    WannabeNewton

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    How in the world is higher education free? You do realize that here in the US many people are paying thousands upon thousands of dollars for higher education right? It is anything but "free" or a "right" here. Also, people should have more sympathy. We weren't in his shoes nor do we know what other psychological factors were wracking his brain.
     
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