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Question for professors?

I know this is a very general question, but I'm planning on entering a PhD program and would like to know what it's like to be a professor. Could you describe a typical day in the life of a professor?
Also, is it possible to work one's way up to professor status while remaining at one university, or will moving most likely be required?
Thanks in advance for responses!


Wed. Jul 5, 5:02pm

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Moving will definitely be required. If you can't go more or less anywhere a job crops up, don't plan to be an academic. Even after you have a job, at a lot of places the only way to get a real raise is to get another job somewhere else.

"A day in the life" varies a LOT between the humanities and the sciences -- my personal observation is that scientists put in a ton more hours, but also get paid significantly more. Also, it varies with the type of institution you decide to go to -- some places emphasize teaching, others research. Also, many of us have no "typical" days. I can tell you, I never do the same thing two days in a row! Of course that's the fun part.

neon

Wednesday, July 05, 2006, 5:34 PM

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OP again

Neon, what motivated you to become a professor? Did you know that was the route you wanted to take before graduate studies? What are some of the pros/cons of being a professor? And what do you feel is the most significant impact you've had on society, students, or yourself by becoming a professor?
Thanks again!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006, 5:49 PM

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This is so OT -- why don't you check out www.chronicle.com forums?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006, 6:01 PM

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Wow, offended OP again

While it may seem off topic, career uncertainty and job disatisfaction creates stress in my life, which causes depression and leads to overeating. So while I'm trying to make lifestyle-eating changes, I'm also trying to make other changes in my life. I appreciate the support on this website and feel comfortable asking this question here. Thanks again for those reading who have withheld comments like those above.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006, 6:22 PM

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yeah come on, our lives are not all about fitness and food, I think it is healthy to talk about other things and refreshing!



Wednesday, July 05, 2006, 7:45 PM

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I totally agree. We can talk about anything we want here. You're out of line 6:01 poster. Nothing should be considered OT.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006, 8:55 PM

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Hi OP, (6:01 poster please don't read if you are not interested...this is not about weight loss).

I am a scientist and getting a PhD was the only way I knew to get to really know my subject. Just imagine, getting paid to study something that fascinates you! Every day I do research, I am searching for an answer to an unknown question. It's a hunt, a challenge, and everythine you find out leads to more questions. Sometimes you develop things that can make a difference in someone's life (I do medical research).

however, the best piece of advice that my mentor gave me was to warn me that you also have to be a master salesperson. Getting grants to do research is a highly competitive activity, and you have to be able to sell yourself to the granting agencies. There is also a hugh pressure to publish or perish, so that's sort of selling yourself, too.

If you "just" wanted to teach, then it is a different kind of pursuit. I put "just" in quotes because teaching is very much a labor of love. You get so much back from teaching willing minds, and you always will learn more than your students. If you have a full time teaching job with no research, then you can usually avoid the stress of competing for grants, but teaching jobs don't pay quite as well as research jobs. Plus, you really should be good at teaching, for your sake and your students'.When I was teaching, I always tried to adhere to "the show must go on."

I work for a government lab. The work we do is more applied, rather than basic looking into mechanisms and finding out how things work like it is at most universities, but finding out which things work best is very satisfying, especially since you can always ask some of the more basic questions. Government labs usually have their own funding but there still is some in-house competition (which actually is good to keep people on their toes).

A typical day will be spent doing an experiment and then spending several days analyzing the data. Then you have to write it up, and going through the literature and comparing what you found out with what is known and how it furthers our knowledge. Two other activities that take time is writing the protocols and getting them approved through the various approval committees (lots of in-house peer review goes on to make sure that studies are adequately designed to answer the questions and that there are resources available to answer the question). The other thing is submitting the manuscript to journals for publication and addressing the concerns that the reviewers have, then hope they actually accept it. You get used to all of this by the time you've finished your post doc.

I wish you the greatest luck in your pursuit, and hope you are passionate about your subject. It is very satisfying, but can be stressful.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006, 10:30 PM

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Face-to-face vs. online

Depends on your goals and personal needs.

For example, until my invalid parents needed continuous care, I worked on campus. I had to switch and moved to all online. My day is arranged around my parents needs, but I make the SAME amount of money as I made on campus -- but I do not have to drive anywhere and I do not have to pay parking fees, wear suits everyday, or drive -- which is a significant cost savings these days.

So....it depends on your goal. If teaching your subject area is your goal and even conducting research and writing articles, then telecommuting and working online for a one or more universities will fit your needs while allowing you to arrange your own schedule.

If seeing people and dealing with departmental politics, traffic, suits, parking fees, weather issues, car maintenance, etc. are important to you, then a face-to-face campus position is for you.

I made my choice out of family necessity and an emergency. Before changing I could never imagine changing -- yet now, I can't imagine going back -- I basically make THE SAME with benefits YET I save approximately $6,000 a year in expenses directly associated with an on-campus position and have more time to take care of my needs as well as a full-time caregiver.

Thursday, July 06, 2006, 6:23 AM

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thanks to the last two posters. i appreciate your responses. i too hope my passion for this is strong enough to get me thru :)

Thursday, July 06, 2006, 6:52 PM

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I do not think this is a topic off limits on Peer Trainer. I agree with the poster who said life is not all about food and fitness. I found the comments from other posters very interesting. Thanks for posting this.

Monday, July 10, 2006, 12:38 PM

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i don't think there is a topic that should be considered "Off Topic" here at peertrainer. personally, sometimes i like to come to the lounge and read about something other than food, the size of a dress, or how many reps to do on a machine. some of us have other goals we are working on, fears, problems, and triumphs we'd like to share.

good luck to the op in your quest to become a professor! and in your health goals!!

Monday, July 10, 2006, 1:15 PM

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