This profession has a way of subtly placing blinders on the impressionable young people it attracts or keeping them too occupied or insulated to expand their horizons. I think people get hung up on the idea of ‘I just need to clear this obstacle and then the rest of my life can begin’, but academia is just a series of checkpoints exactly like that. Each one should give us pause when we come to them.
I’ve been in academia now for around five years and I have yet to run into a grad student who I felt wasn’t working hard enough: effort is never why students fail. The admissions process is random and biased and flawed, but it reliably overselects on work ethic. I worry that telling prospective or current students that they will fail if they aren’t ready to commit all their waking hours to a subject they’re really only just sinking their teeth into will be self-fulfilling with deterrent effects on people with underrepresented or non-traditional backgrounds and less entrenched in the self-preserving microculture of academia.