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Bell Curve


You're an undergraduate, would-be botany major, and you are aching under the weight of the science prerequisites. Told that you gotta jack up your G.P.A., you've gotten rejected from every work-study lab internship under the sun. The way you relax is by spending a couple of hours on the shores of the nearby swamp, making mud pies.


You've graduated from making mud pies to making real pies as graveyard shift baker at the local doughnut shop. Heck, who's complaining? The job gives you the income you need to pay for botany graduate school because your undergrad grades had been okay but not good enough to get the grants you needed for a free ride through grad school.


It's back to mud. You're working for the state as a compliance person. The money's good, but half the time you're crawling in the mud at construction sites to make sure the contractors are sticking to the spirit and the letter of the environmental impact report (which assesses if the building will be kind to the environment). Too few plants, too much paperwork.


Finally you got that PhD—it just took you 12 years. You had thought about working at the local biotech place that was all into genetically engineering plant life, but you like teaching and voluntary poverty. You like your job as an associate professor of botany: 12 classes a week, publish-or-perish incentives, and tons of committee meetings.


Tenure. The money's better. The teaching load's lighter. Time to relax and make mud pies.