OK folks, I’ve been a delinquent blogger, yadda yadda, but, as in years past, I will try to post every day through the month of November, doing an unofficial NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month, the blogging companion to NaNoWriMo). Based on past experiences, I can’t eke out more than 1-2 deep essay posts per week, but: a) Who knows? b) Who cares? There are always Twitter bookmarks to help us out.
Let me know here (in the comments) if there are topics you’d like me to discuss. I will try to get to them if I can. Over the 11 (11!!) years of blogging between Academic Jungle and here, I’ve probably discussed every academic topic at least once, but I might be wrong, plus there are always new readers and new topics.
Looking forward to hanging out more with you this month!
You seem really unhappy in academia. I’d like to hear your thoughts on why you continue to stay.
Monica, thanks for the question! Short answer: Academic jobs are great, with a lot of freedom and flexibility. My grumpiness is probably as much, if not more, a result of some sort of midlife ennui than the job itself. There’s no guarantee I’d be happier doing something else, and it’s guaranteed I’d have less freedom. If I were to become a bestselling novelist or something I might quit, but as it is, I’m likely to remain an academic. I will try to elaborate on this in a post; it’s a good topic — thank you!
What is the long game or, alternatively, the ultimate point, of an academic career? The opportunities to go upward or across are very few and far in between, you either succeed (and get bored), or you always struggle (not bored but not fun either). What would one do after becoming a full professor in a mid-rank R1? Thank you for openly sharing your thoughts on this topic.
Just another professor: Good question! The short answer is that everyone probably has to answer this for themselves and people differ in what their priorities are. Some are really into chasing accolades; others have academic aspirations; others still really are in it for the teaching or for the ability to pursue research… But definitely a good topic; I will do my best to get to it this month. Thanks!
You’ve probably done this post before, but what advice would you give yourself of 5, 10, 15+ years ago?
Another question – why do I have so many f*ing meetings and how do I get out of them (I’m considering faking my own death)?
Excellent questions, pyrope! Will do my best to
Happy to have you back for NaBloPoMo – your blog is one of my favorites, so I’m looking forward to it!
Wondering what your thoughts are about the future of academia overall – this comes up in casual convos with seminar speakers when they come through the department. The bloating admin, the less number of college-age students available to attend, the steady paylines of grants that don’t scale with inflation and increased payroll for students/postdocs (which is needed/deserved!). As an assistant professor, these really make me question of if I can have long-term stability in the academy. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on what you think academia will look like in 20+ years.
I’m going to second “Just Another Professor,” and expand to ask about thoughts for dealing with life after tenure — the “post-tenure slump,” the sudden crushing service load, but more positively, the opportunity to reinvent yourself career-wise once you’ve secured a long-term position. Have you ever thought about changing fields, moving into more administrative roles (I’d never want to be at the dean/provost level, but I’m kind of intrigued by running our pre-matriculation program for underrepresented STEM students…), starting a side gig within academia (mine would probably be science education research) or even outside of academia (like your writing)?
I’ve been simultaneously overwhelmed by the demands of parenting a preschooler and a toddler during the pandemic, resulting in my research program being on life support, and also just kind of bored with academia. Sure, I could pump out another half-dozen papers and maybe a grant to get to the full professor level… but I’m just not that excited about the idea, and also the increasing rejection rates from every side (this year the proposal acceptance rate for the major facility that I use for my research dropped by almost a factor of two, and I was shut out for the first time ever, and I’m just having trouble motivating myself to play the game anymore). If it weren’t for the fact that I really love providing opportunities to students, I’d be tempted to look for my exit strategy. But there are also so many different things that I’m interested in that it seems a waste to keep dragging myself along in a field that I’m just not as excited about as I used to be. And at the same time, I’m not a grad student anymore, so where am I supposed to find the time to get myself up to speed in a new field? How have you reorganized your life post-tenure, and/or how do you *wish* that you had?