While the ivory covered towers and students hanging on your every soap-boxed word may sound alluring to most, the drawbacks of becoming a college professor cannot be ignored. Gone are the days of easy, tenured positions as today’s candidates for careers in academia are faced with competition, unengaged dissertation advisers and insecurity.
Most people view the profession of professor as near perfect, but there are a few drawbacks that go along with the position. Interviews with a wide number of professors across the nation detail what they like and don’t like about their highly coveted career choice.
In most cases, the pros outweigh the cons and the life of a professor is viewed as one of the most alluring careers. The work environment is comfortable, the job is easy – especially for those who love to teach and welcome opportunities to reveal their knowledge and expertise, and compensation and benefits are typically well-suited.
Getting there is certainly a battle, unless you are one of the lucky ones, but tenured professors have a lot to be thankful for. Not only do they get to work in the field of their choice, in which they are highly passionate about, they are also compensated for their time spent researching in the field they love. The work can be highly rewarding and meaningful.
Contrary to popular belief, some professors do work hard. Between time spent researching and working on publications to balancing the teaching and grading load, the schedule can be intense. However, most operate on a flexible schedule and those with family can work and teach around those hours that would otherwise conflict with family life. The schedule can be adjusted and most professors have great input on when they want to work.
Summer breaks and long vacations are typical of the professorship schedule. Not many careers can boast a lengthy summer vacation each and every year. Although professors may do a lot of work during their breaks, they do have the flexibility of doing it at home. Periodic sabbaticals are also a bonus as professors are relieved of all of their teaching duties to focus exclusively on a writing project.
One of the most difficult and challenging parts of the job is grading. High teaching evaluations mean that the professor gets to keep his job (if not tenured) but this means that the students may not be evaluated fairly. A difficult professor may run the risk of getting poor evaluations from students, because, let’s face it – students want easy grades overall.
Academia may be filled with a lot of bureaucracy and political pressures, especially to professors who have not received tenure and are working on research that leads to publishing. Most academics are very intelligent, possess strong opinions and in some cases, have large egos.
While most professors are paid well, some complain of a compensation ceiling once they hit a certain amount. There are rarely multimillionaire professors, but there are plenty of well-compensated ones. Many times a pay raise for a tenured professor does not occur unless they are willing to change schools and begin working elsewhere. In order to resolve the tricky political issues, some professors opt to move to another school as well.