Quitting my professorship

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by Invisible Man, Jul 18, 2014.

  1. stevel

    stevel Member

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    It's time for that infographic that compares the salaries of adjuncts through the president - they're actually a fairly reasonable ratio, albeit low, but the head coach salary is like 20 times as high as the president!

    Steve
     
  2. stevel

    stevel Member

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    My experience has been that, the more advanced the education, and the more specialized the field, the more out of touch a particular professor - especially research professors - is with reality. I have never met a more out of touch group of people - many with such severe social disorders that if it were not for their genius, would be in a hospital somewhere.

    I don't know if they're necessarily oblivious though - I think some just realize they need to "play the game" to get what they need. Research grant, research grant, research grant - they've learned to game the system in their favor. It's kind of a "if you give me the money to let me do my research and leave me alone, I'll teach one class and leave you alone".

    I have a few that will go toe to toe with the board, the president, the biggest donor, etc. because they know they will not get fired (even pre-tenure).
     
  3. stevel

    stevel Member

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    OK, it's time for the Tenure joke I've been told:

    The only way to get rid of a tenured professor (assumption is male professor) is to catch them with a dead girl or a live boy.
     
  4. stevel

    stevel Member

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    We're becoming an "ITT Techinical Institute" - a "trade school" or "vocational school".

    We're turning away PhDs for adjunct positions.

    I would guess in the "old days" PhDs were much rarer and getting one almost guaranteed even someone with a Masters could find work at an educational institution. Now, there are so many people with advanced degrees out there that even the lowest positions are being filled with PhDs. So getting a degree in any field where one would go on to be a university educator is not worth anything. It's no wonder people are flocking to non-academic positions for degree - especially with the money involved in the business world now.

    Number one question in advising "what kind of job can I get with this degree?"

    I've gotten to the point where I tell them getting a degree will not guarantee you any job, and your best chances of getting a job with your degree is to be in all your classes, on time, make good grades, and become an outstanding student so that you're more likely to be recommended by professors who are asked to recommend students, get excellent referrals, etc.

    Steve
     
  5. stevel

    stevel Member

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    .

    My best friend from high school, a drummer who could not read music, and wasn't the greatest, did not go to college. His grades were fair. He went to work at a power plant where they had tests you could take to advance your pay grade.

    Now, we're both still playing in bands, and he's doing just as well, if not better than me - a trained musician who got music degrees and scholarships, etc.

    I'm working in education making far less than him I bet. I'm driving around in a 97 and 99 vehicle, house falling apart, kids scraping through school, while he's got a new truck and a motorcycle, kids excelling in sports, and so on.

    Who was smarter? Well, if it's any consolation, at least he lost his hair - mine's just grey ;-)
    Well, my lead singer made a great comment. He said everyone is saying the economy is still bad. He said "I wish someone would tell that to the person in the new cadillac SUV who just cut me off to get in the line 20 cars deep at the Starbucks drive through".

    I had to listen to my in-laws, who both make 6 figures, with one daughter who just graduated and another on a full ride (with housing) saying "we're broke" all week. Please. Ok, OK, they're paying for their adult daughter's rent who just got her first full time job. So the economy is terrible for them becuase thier 20 year yield blah de blah that they can't cash for 15 years without a penalty has gone done a tenth of a percent.

    Please.

    I see people throwing away tens of dollars at Starbucks in droves. Chic-fil-a always has a line around the building. Olive Garden is packed every night of the week, and every day for lunch. I'm in a band clubs pay 1300 a show to (when they're crying to pay 300 a show to another band I'm in because the "economy is bad"). Starting to see Hummers on the road again.


    Yes, the "college is the only alternative" was a scam, but here's the thing: people making money will find a way to continue to make that money. They just adjust where they spend.

    Steve
     
  6. twoheadedboy

    twoheadedboy Member

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    I don't criticize the OP for getting out. Academia is a brutal winner-take-all game, especially in the USA. If you're in demand and your work is an easy sell, you can sail above a lot of the BS. However, the typical situation involves slaving away and sacrificing any chance of balance or stability until your mid 40s, living in constant fear of having the door slammed in your face.

    I just started a post-doc. When I finish, I won't hesitate to take my skills to industry, health care, military, and/or government. Much better prospects in terms of money, stability, and work/life balance than in academia.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
  7. 57special

    57special Silver Supporting Member

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    This is an interesting read, for someone who has little idea of the academic life.
     
  8. pfflam

    pfflam Silver Supporting Member

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    This kinda happened to me, I was teaching the bulk of a certain kind of course -I teach it well. They did a search and I was a finalist but did not get the job. The bad thing is is that rather than continue to teach the extra classes that would still be available, the person they hired (who does a better job at the admin side of the job then I would, and, is probably a better teacher too) accidentally passed right over me when hiring adjuncts for the position I'd been teaching - she hired someone she knew.

    Luckily I have a number of other course but since I only have an MFA and a background in Philosophy and am teaching a course that usually is taught by PHDs, my position is very tenuous, in fact I am counting the years I will be here and its maybe less than two left . . .

    So, how else can a middle aged over-educated white male make a living when he is used to being able to work with ideas and creativity and with time?!
     
  9. Invisible Man

    Invisible Man Member

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    I routinely give graduating students recommendations. Many of them are successful in getting better jobs than the one I have. I am younger than some of them.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014
  10. mikeguy53

    mikeguy53 Member

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    I was an adjunct at a small liberal arts college here in central Florida. Very wealthy kids went here and at the time a party school of the rich and famous parents. I had a student who blew off my final exam. Didn't show up, no excuse, nothing. I flunked him. Turns out his father was on the Board of Trustees. Called me up at my residence and raised holy hell. I was relieved of my adjunct duties the next year. Looks like I may have been lucky from reading this thread.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014
  11. m.e.

    m.e. Freelance Bio-exorcist Silver Supporting Member

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    It's really interesting to read this thread. Last week, I guest lectured at a masters class at a university in L.A.. I'm not an academic by any stretch (I only have a B.A.), but I was brought in as an 'industry expert' to speak on a few different topics. I had more fun giving this lecture than I've had during the last seven months at work, but I just got to prepare slides, show up, and speak (just the fun stuff, none of the politics, etc.).

    I'm at the point where I've pretty much had it with my job and the industry I'm in. It's not at all for me, and I'm essentially hating every second that I'm at work. One of the biggest regrets I have is that I joined the corporate world right out of college instead of earning a doctorate and going into teaching/research. I would go back to school in a second, but it's basically too late for me to go into a purely academic field. I've got nearly 10 years invested in my career and have a wife and two kids (I wouldn't change this for anything). However, some of the points raised here are exactly why I hesitated about academia and got a corporate job. I know many people who work in academia or have earned advanced degrees and some of the stories I've heard about politics and the trials of securing a faculty position are pretty amazing (and not in a good way).

    Some of difficulties mentioned are equally present in the corporate world, stress and work/life balance in particular. It took me about eight years to learn how to leave work stress at work and enjoy the rest of my life when I'm not in the office. I still have trouble disconnecting though. It's definitely something I've had to consciously work to do. I've worked with and known many people who define themselves by what they accomplish at work, devoting little time to their families, which I think is a little sad. I realized I didn't want this to happen to me after my first son was born, so I changed jobs (within the same industry) to achieve a better work/life balance. I think that's one of the good things about the industry I'm in: it's relatively easy to change jobs without sacrificing much and nobody expects one to stay at a job more than 2 to 3 years.

    Anyway, good luck to you, Invisible Man. Making changes like these is definitely not easy!
     
  12. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    Figure out what you can do/make that people need, and will give you money for.
     
  13. liquidswords

    liquidswords Member

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    Question - what makes someone earn the title of 'professor' in the U.S.? Do you need a PhD for it?
     
  14. Hanglow

    Hanglow Member

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    My little brother was doing part of his MPhil at princeton and was an associate professor and said that a lot of his students who he lectured called him "Professor", which he found amusing as in the UK it would take him at least another couple of decades before he could be called that

    I guess it's a bit different to here at least!
     
  15. Invisible Man

    Invisible Man Member

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    That's one of my motivations for starting this. My gripes are my own, but this seemed like an unlikely and interesting place to have this conversation.

    The emergence of academic "quit lit" isn't just self-indulgent. It's a way for academics to wash their hands of a broken system, and a way to call attention to that brokenness. I don't want to bring down the American university system, but some major interventions need to be made. Most people have no way of knowing about this.
     
  16. Invisible Man

    Invisible Man Member

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    Hard to answer well. I've been called professor while a grad assistant (M.A.), doctoral student, adjunct...

    Most would agree that anyone who teaches college classes for a living can rightfully be called a professor. This includes community college instructors, adjuncts and tenured or tenure-track academics. Some will disagree, saying only those with a Ph.D. qualify. I've always gone by my first name, because I'm still young, and my teaching style and subject matter don't encourage that I stand on ceremony or authority.
     
  17. Profklamen

    Profklamen Supporting Member

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    I’m a professor and administrator at a university and have been in the academic system for over twenty years. I don’t doubt that you are giving an accurate description of your experience; however, the university world is complex and there are many different sides to the faculty world that are not being expressed in this thread. It would be a mistake to infer from this discussion that this is representative of the academic environment – a place that is diverse and multifaceted. It does not generally represent my experience or the atmosphere at my institution (with the exception of the ridiculous underpayment of adjunct faculty).

    The university world is probably a frustrating place if you pursue an academic career because you want to be a teacher. Professors are not generally focused primarily on teaching and the system’s tradition has not evolved with teaching being the main priority. Most professors have never taken a class (or had any formal instruction) designed to help them to become teachers. Long story short; universities tend to focus on hiring and promoting people who are the experts in their fields, under the assumption that international-level expertise trumps a love for teaching when it comes to advancing the field and serving as a mentor for the most advanced students. Of course, there are some schools that drift away from this vision. But in general, if you are internationally known in your field, a university is likely to reward you.

    If you love your research and are successful at it, you may feel like your are getting paid to do whatever you want, and given a captive audience to hear you talk about it. In one sense, I probably work around 70 hours per week. But I generally don’t feel like I’m working most of the time – I’m doing exactly what I want to do, and what I find most interesting. I’m well aware that this may not be the case for many… but I’m also quite certain that it is the way it works for many professors.

    Invisible man, please feel free to pm me if you would like to chat about your situation.
     
  18. starjag

    starjag Member

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    Maybe the opposite situation here... successfully made all the ranks: assistant, tenured associate, and now full prof. Not sure if this is just a matter of being willing to play the game or not. But I'm certainly happy that I didn't look for other options early in my academic career.
     
  19. TheGuildedAge

    TheGuildedAge Supporting Member

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    I'm trying to get my foot in the door at some local universities but am nervous.

    I have heard colleges don't want full time professors anymore, they just hire you to teach a class or two for peanuts. Makes me feel like a prostitute.

    But it's a Catch 22 in a way for me, because it is where I would like to be some day, I think. Plus, my current job isn't as safe and secure as I would like.

    I also don't have a real master's degree, so I think that will hurt a bit. I have an equivalency and tons of graduate credits, but I don't think the big time schools want that. Our local community college is my starting point, plus a few I doubt will even call, but I figured the most they can do is laugh at my resume and move on.
     
  20. cogan

    cogan Member

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    I'm starting to feel very fortunate about my career path.
     

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