I'm looking for an article, web site, book chapter, whatever, that I can share with some math graduate students so that they can read and learn a little about some of the different types of colleges and universities, from the perspective of a math professor. More specifically, a math grad student who is considering an option of becoming a math professor, but might not yet have a set idea on whether they want to emphasize research, teaching, undergraduate or graduate mentoring, or whatever, and might not have a good sense of the range of possibilities.

Some grad students are not familiar with any kind of university other than an R1, and just assume that with a math Ph.D., that's their career path. Or they might not know about differences between large and small schools, state schools and liberal arts schools, etc.

I don't need an article that would rank colleges (or types of college). I would love to have one that explains some of the different types of academic settings where a professor might find themselves, especially a math professor.

I am especially interested in the U.S., but I'm open to texts with a broader perspective (global, European, whatever). I'm especially interested in the perspective of mathematics, but I'm open to texts from the perspective of "generic" faculty or faculty in other areas. I'm not really interested in articles that help students pick which type of college they would like to go to (those are very easy to find, almost spammy).

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    Off-hand I don't know a good item to suggest, but you can probably find something by looking through the table of contents of the past couple of decades of the AMS Notices and The Mathematical Intelligencer and MAA Focus and Math Horizons. Usually students learn about this from "graduate student gossip", but with COVID-19. . . Jan 22, 2021 at 10:40
  • @DaveLRenfro: Even without COVID-19, the gossip of fellow students, who have quite limited perspectives, is not a great way to learn about academia. It would be great to see a good answer to this question. (And I agree your suggestions are a good starting point.) Jan 22, 2021 at 10:59
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    @ZachTeitler: Assuming you're thinking about US academia, that should be explicitly specified. Also, I suspect it might be easier to find something that wasn't math-specific. Jan 22, 2021 at 11:00
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    @MarkMeckes Thank you, I edited the question in response to your comment. I agree that the math specification may be highly restrictive, but I maintain the preference for it if possible, simply because my students and I are in math. A mathematician weighing SLACs, say, considers different factors than, e.g., a biologist who might have to give up building a large lab. (Actually, I have no idea what a biologist would think about a SLAC. Maybe I do need that more general article after all.) Jan 22, 2021 at 11:10
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    If you're a member of the MAA, then you'll probably get a few useful answers by posting to their daily all-members mailing list. If not, perhaps ask a colleague who is a member to do this for you, or if for some reason that's not feasible for you, then I can do this. Finally, if you get some useful items doing this (and/or by going through TOCs), then it would probably be a good idea to post bibliographic information about these items as an answer to your question (answering your own question is allowed). Jan 23, 2021 at 13:56


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