This Academic Life
  On the absence of sufficient financial resources
Leave it to Bitch, PhD to say what a lot of us have undoubtedly been thinking: the financial incentives in academia are seriously fucked up. Personally, I know that I am definitely doing less well financially now than I was while in graduate school; having two kids -- one of whom is autistic, which means among other things that he needs expensive therapies that our crappy health insurance package doesn't cover very much of the cost of -- and owning a house will do that, I suppose, and my university-provided "travel funding" doesn't cover more than one conference a year. To say nothing about books and other supplies, almost all of which have to be paid for out of pocket.

And on top of that, let's think for a moment about the time commitments. I have a stack of journals that must be four feet high sitting in my office; those are the journals that I haven't read, and when I say "haven't read" I mean "haven't unwrapped form their plastic, or have unwrapped and then tossed onto the pile" for about the past four years. Why is there all of this backlog? Because in addition to my regular teaching load during the year, I have to teach two summer courses just to pay the basic bills. And the rest of the summer -- all six weeks out of the year that I am not actively teaching multiple courses -- is either spent writing madly (writing a lot while teaching is, I have learned, a recipe for disaster; I can edit and revise while classes are in session, but if I try to write something from scratch I end up trying to juggle too many balls at once and usually dropping all of them) or trying to make up the backlog of other professional commitments (supervision of theses and dissertations, peer reviews, etc.). And the backlog just gets bigger and bigger.

So I ask you: how am I supposed to keep current in my field when I haven't the time to do so because I am teaching additional courses to pay the bills? And while I'm at it, where am I supposed to find the time to be a human being, see my wife and kids, and so forth?

I'm very glad that I'm not in this for the money. On the other hand, it would be very nice to have adequate finances, instead of continually refinancing the house to consolidate accumulated debt.

[Posted with ecto]

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"Academia als Beruf," or, an occasional record of the various aspects of my life as an academic. Written by "21stCWeber," an arrogant handle I know…but I must confess that I do want to be Weber when and if I grow up :-)



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