Book by: Frank Furstenberg
Review by: Anthony Iannelli Jr.
Academic Advisor
University of South Florida

I now know everything about the PhD process! Well, not everything, but I know far more about all of the different PhD stages, after reading “Behind the Academic Curtain: How to find success and happiness with a PhD,” by Frank Furstenberg. In this book, Furstenberg goes over all of the different stages of the PhD process, which includes: Entering graduate school, finding the right job, the tenure process, life outside of the PhD program, and easing into the emeritus stage. The honest advice that Furstenberg gives about each of the different stages was refreshing to hear, as it helps readers see every stage from every different possible angle.

The content of this book is focused on everything that one must go through during the PhD process. Furstenberg gives a behind the scenes view of what the PhD process looks like. In addition, Furstenberg explains what an inspiring PhD student should really know and focus on during the PhD process. For example, there is a section in the book about starting a family. Starting a family is something that I can definitely relate to as I consider the possibility of going for my PhD. The biggest strength of this book is the fact that I feel that readers will know a lot more about the PhD process, probably more than they would ever think about knowing. As an advisor, the weakness of this book is that Furstenberg does not go over what the PhD process would look like for an Academic Advisor. In Furstenberg’s defense, he aimed to give a holistic view of the PhD process for all disciplines.

An advisor can learn about what advancing his or her career could look like if pursuing a PhD and everything pursuing a PhD entails. At some institutions, it might be required for an advisor to go for a PhD to advance in a position. In addition, an advisor could also use this information about the PhD process when advising students that are interested in a PhD program. The knowledge an advisor could obtain from this book could greatly benefit the students. Helping students is one of the main reasons why we are advisors. Ultimately, reading this book is worth an advisor’s valuable time, even though it is not completely centered on Academic Advising.

“In many respects, the biggest decision is the first one: Should you take the plunge and enter a PhD program? Deciding to go to graduate school is not the same process for everyone (Furstenberg 2).” In the book, Furstenberg uses real life examples from his own experience, his students’ experiences and from other faculty members’ experiences. These real life examples help the reader see relatable experiences that one could possibly go through during the different stages of the PhD process. Overall, the PhD process is a long and sometimes tedious process. An advisor who is interested in the process needs to remind them self constantly of the goal at hand. According to Furstenberg, more people tend to quit during the PhD process, then actually complete the degree. This book literally goes over every single process from the beginning to the end. “Behind the Academic Curtain: How to find success and happiness with a PhD,” by Frank Furstenberg is a book that every advisor, who is thinking about completing a PhD should read right away!

Behind the Academic Curtain: How to find success and happiness with a PhD. (2013). Book by Frank Furstenberg. Review by Anthony Iannelli Jr. University of Chicago Press. 208 pp. $15.00, (paperback). ISBN #978-0-2260-6610-3.

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