High-scoring students at top colleges who pursue doctorates in the humanities have already capitulated to manifold compromises: instead of earning small fortunes at consultancies, we sign a six-year contract to live on or around the poverty line while our teaching, writing, and research busies us for roughly 12 hours a day.I got a lot out of grad school personally and intellectually, and all the usual disclaimers. But. If I had imagined, for even a glimmer of a moment, that "small fortunes" or "consultancies" were options for me, I might not have signed up. Yet I think Scheinman's talking about people like me. I guess "high" and "top" are relative, but "honors" and "UChicago" might count, and I vaguely recall that I'm someone who does well on standardized tests, but it's been so long, I don't remember the details.
But... while I absolutely had college classmates who went on to that sort of path, it's not as if each individual elite-college student sits there and ponders a choice. My choices - not just my inclinations - had left me with the choices I did have, but these were not choices made senior year of college, for the most part. I was on the track to something-poorly-compensated-involving-writing long before graduation. There was nothing I could offer a consultancy (such things as... knowing what one was, or how to even find out about jobs at one) when I graduated. If I'd been a completely different person, with a different major or substantially different coursework, sure. But, alas. I combed the Idealist listings - successfully, because 2005. Then I rejoiced and headed to grad school (and - how 2005-2006 - took a pay cut!) when I learned I'd be paid to read books.
I suppose it's different at the really elite schools, and do have a Facebook friend who periodically mentions being a humanities major who went the get-paid-a-lot route and seems confused about why others wouldn't do the same, and I want to be like, because we didn't all go to college where you did!, but then I figure maybe I'm wrong, and anyone who did go somewhere super-duper-elite probably knows more about this than I do. (Scheinman also says something about impostor syndrome.) But I doubt if it's that different, certainly post-2008.