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COMMENTARY Earning a doctorate is widely considered to be an excellent way to boost a person's lifetime earnings potential.*
The bottom line: If you are smart enough to earn a PhD, you are smart enough not to pursue one.
If someone is looking for a social impact career ("public intellectual"), then a PhD is not for them. Unfortunately, the Noam Chomskys, Paul Krugmans and Howard Zinns are a small minority in academia.
I love research and I love my field, but the unfortunate truth is that there simply are not enough jobs in it to go around, so I try to encourage students who ask to go for the more lucrative and secure areas within my broad field.
2. I've never had a professor exploit me.
Professors will exploit you. It takes forever to earn a doctorate degree because graduate students are routinely treated like slaves.
It's not so bad if you consider that your professor also has to fund your tuition. Typical 30-40k out-of-state tuition + 30k stipend is a starting salary.
It's not 30-40k. The advisors of RA's are charged a different rate for tuition. At GT, this amount is about $1,170/mo ( Facilities & Administrative Rates Office of Sponsored Programs ). This number has doubled since I entered grad school 4 years ago, so grad students were even cheaper to keep around then.