I have really been enjoying going out of my comfort zone and finding some new authors and books to read over on Netgalley. I was browsing for something else to read as I work my way through ‘Morning Star’ and stumbled across this book that detailed a graduate students disastrous experience with Hunter College. Being a graduate research student myself, I thought it would be interesting to read about his experiences and how it differs from my own.
Academic Betrayal:The Bullying of a Graduate Student by Loren Mayshark
Pub 27th April 2017
“Academic Betrayal:The Bullying of a Graduate Student” is a short memoir about Loren Maysharks’ own experiences as a graduate student at Hunter University in New York. After finishing his undergraduate studies, Mayshark traveled around America, trying to find what he is passionate about and deciding whether he would undertake graduate studies after being an above average student in both High School and as an Undergrad. After being inspired by his experience in Mexico and working with Latin Americans in his may jobs, he decided to return to College and undertake a MA specializing in Latin America in the hopes of being a teacher and academic. However, this was where one of the first major obstacles appeared as he was rejected due to his low GRE scores and was accepted as a conditional students at Hunter University, promised that after completing his coursework to a reasonable standard he would be accepted fully into the course and after completing the retired credit points, graduate with a MA. What followed was six years of incredibly long work days, administrative confusion and incompetence, inattentive Professors and thousands of dollars- and no degree. Mayshark tells his story through this book and demonstrates how the education system can turn against the people it is meant to help.
I thought Maysharks writing was very sound in this book, and the inclusion of diary entries and the emails he sent to his professors and the school administration just added to the feelings of hopelessness and stress conveyed in the books and I felt he provided a well rounded and complete story. I did have a couple problems with how he addresses both the administrative and academic issues, but I will not include that as part of my official review. I thought this book was very interesting, and very shocking, as it demonstrates one of the many ways our education system is failing its students.
OK, so I did not want to include the problems I had with Mayshark himself in the actual reveiw, so be prepared for a little bit of a rant.
I just have to comment that while what happened to Mayshark is wrong and it should not have escalated to the level it did, some of it is on him, as much as he tried to blame the school and the education system. He decided to continue on after six years when it may have been better for him personally to move on or transfer to another course. He is so steadfast in that he wants to complete his thesis on this specific topic and put thousands of hours of work into it knowing that it may all be for nothing-I know the topic and the field of work was important to him, but with anything there needs to be compromise. For my PhD thesis I am currently working on, there are somethings I am not as passionate about as others, but that comes with academia.
He comes to detest his supervisors as the critique his work-and while they certainly should have put more attention into his studies, that is what they are there to do. One of the most important things I was told was to make sure I choose my supervisors carefully, as they will be with you for the entirety of your project. While I understand that he was so limited in who he had available to supervise him, it is obvious from the start that their relationship was not going to work.
Lastly, I have a small feeling that maybe he is not cut out for academia. Already I have had some people in our lab drop out or take breaks from their PhD as it is so difficult and mentally draining-and it is supposed to be as it is a graduate research course. From all the critiques on his exams and thesis, to his above average marks in his units, maybe he is just not ready or at the level of this study. The criticism his examiner gave him about the fact that two sentence paragraphs is not appropriate for graduate students and Mayshark complained that there was no chance to go back and fix it without whiteout. I have to agree with the professor, two sentence paragraphs is just not acceptable when you have to write an essay-at any level.
So, I hope you liked my review+rant about this book. It was very worthwhile to read, even if I did have some issues with the author.