Post Academic


Holidays on an academic schedule (with poll!)

"Thanksgiving Postcard circa 1900" (Public Domain)

Watching some of the “news” about Memorial Day traffic got me thinking about academic schedules again, something we covered way, way back.  For many, Memorial Day doesn’t really count as a day-off holiday, since those of you on semester schedules have already started your summer vacations–lucky you!  I’ve only ever been in a quarter system as an undergrad and a grad student, so the last Monday of May has always been a day to look forward to, whether as a chance to tie up loose ends at the end of the term or catch up on school work right before finals week.  The only thing to look out for with Memorial Day is that it can lull you into a false sense that summer’s already here and get in the way of finishing the school year on a strong note.

So maybe everyone in the Hamster World might think academics live in a state of arrested development, but you know they’ve gotta envy the nerds for having a few months of summer vacation and spring break.  Then again, the academic’s flexible time also means you end up grading or writing or grading or researching or grading at times a lot of other folks aren’t in the office, since there’s no boundaries between work hours and after hours.  Holiday days can magnify the academic’s inability to compartmentalize.  Below the fold, I rank the holidays on an academic schedule, in reverse order…

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It’s spring break! (Well, sort of)

Posted in Absurdities,Surviving Grad School by Arnold Pan on March 20, 2010
Tags: , ,
One of the undeniably enviable aspects of being an academic is the ample vacation time, including winter break, spring break, and summer vacation. But winter break usually gets eaten up worrying about convention interviews, prepping for convention interviews, going to the convention, then waiting for the results, though, of course, it beats having to go into work on December 31.  Summer vacation might be your best chance to get a solid stretch of time off, but you should be ready to sock away part of it catching up on all the research and work you couldn’t do during the school year then, not to mention that you might want to make some bucks teaching an accelerated and compressed summer school class while picking up a few tutoring gigs along the way.

Spring Break is even more illusory of a break.  Once you finish up giving your final exams, picking up your final papers (and maybe turning in your own if you’re still in coursework), you’re ready to take the weekend off and start planning your time off–except for the big stack of grading to do that you might have to take with you if you go out of town.  And maybe once you get back to the exams and papers, it’s already Tuesday or Wednesday, and you realize you only have one day before you have to input your grades.  Then, that leaves Friday and the weekend off, though you might have had a Tuesday-Thursday schedule last term, so it’s actually no different a weekend than you already have.  Only you have to get ready to teach a new class starting in a few days, so it’s back to prepping the syllabus, planning some ridiculous “ice-breaker” that’s really a diagnostic for the first day of class, and making photocopies.  And in my case, Spring Break generally involves one last winter cold, so that I’m even less motivated and aware to get through the grading.  So at this point, Spring Break basically consists of participating in a fantasy baseball draft.

I know, those of you in the hamster world are crying a river for the academics just about now, right?  But Spring Break is a really good example of how flexible time gives you a false sense of free time and leisure.  So what are the academics reading this doing for spring break, if it’s not the schedule of events I describe above?  And for those post-academics out there, how much do you miss having a spring break?

Photograph of Mission Beach, San Diego, California from Wikimedia Commons, public domain