These days whenever an undergraduate asks me for a recommendation letter for graduate school I send him/her here: http://100rsns.blogspot.com/ (I do write letters of course, but I've taken it on as a duty to warn any/all prospective graduate students of the perils ahead of them). It's not glamorous. And it's not easy. And many who start PhDs don't even finish (up to 50% in the humanities, according to some estimates).
It's a broken system. But it's still the best one for some of us. I'm reminded of the Churchill quote:
“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”Academia is the route to follow only when you've realized there is nothing else you can do with yourself and be happy.
…there were a lot of wonderful things about it. With nothing but a backpack, a bicycle, and a lot of hard work, I went everywhere, I did everything, I lived my dream.
When that dream was over, I had to look at the reality of the tradition as it exists today and say, "I can't be a part of it".