I need a sabbatical

I was supposed to get one this year.  We only get one per division and our two departments are supposed to split them evenly and this year it was my department’s turn.  Only one person from each department applied.  But they gave it to the other person who applied from the other department.  Then he got a job at another university and quit so nobody gets a sabbatical this year.  I am free to apply for next year.  But I have competition.

So much is happening right now.  I have so much work to do.  So many ideas, so many projects, so many revise and resubmits (!), so many conferences, so many referee reports, so many opportunities that I keep saying yes to.  I’m going to be traveling constantly this year and on top of that I have to apply for things… like sabbatical.

And I’m teaching a full load and I’m doing a ton of service.  And my classes have to be updated, except the new course which has to be created.

I think this year I will have to go back to working 6 days a week and sometimes after 5pm.  (I get to work before 8am.)

I hope I don’t pass out from nervous exhaustion!  And I really hope my RAs are good this year, because I need great RAs this year.  Luckily I have enough money to pay for RAs this year.  Unfortunately I didn’t get that grant in on time to get a chance of being able to pay for RAs next year!

Do you need a sabbatical?  What would you do with a sabbatical?

36 Responses to “I need a sabbatical”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    I would definitely do a cross country road trip with the kids during summer, work on the house, and ramp up my out reach. I probably would learn a new skill too and/or take a course on something. I’d also set some fitness goal like climb some big mountain or the like.

  2. TheologyAndGeometry Says:

    If money and small children were not a consideration, I’d travel the world. I’d start in Europe and see how far I got before I ran out of time or was ready to be home.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I think small children are a consideration — unless one wants to take a sabbatical from them too!

      • Rented life Says:

        Maybe just a one night a week 8 hour sabbatical so I can sleep and be less grumpy. One night.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        HAHAHA, as someone whose two year old still has 3 molars slowly and painfully working their way in, I feel this.

      • Rented life Says:

        I don’t even know why we are awake all the time this time. 9 months hit and every thing is a dramatic crisis. The real kicker is when he wakes up all night long and then decides to be up for the day at 5:30 and all naps are only attached to the boob. No naps for mommy in this house!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Oh, every big developmental stage messes up their sleep. 9 mo is one of the fun ones (IMO). Except for the sleep stuff.

    • Cloud Says:

      My husband and I did this before we had kids and it was indeed awesome. We spent 4 months traveling around Asia and the Pacific. We both think we’ll do something similar again once the kids are grown. Although there are people who do this sort of trip with kids, it is not what we want to do. At least we don’t think that we’d want to do it now.

      • hush Says:

        There are people who take that sort of trip with kids, and I, too, am definitely NOT one of those people either. :) My friend who is That Type Of Person however, spends an inordinate amount of time in these fabulous foreign cities at… (wait for it!) … the playground. Um, no thanks. When the kids are grown, indeed.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Germany has some pretty amazing playgrounds, as does Luxembourg.

      • Sandyl FirstgenAmerican Says:

        +1 on this comment. I think the life we have here is pretty amazing and although foreign travel is great and life changing there are so many “kid” things to explore that aren’t location dependent (like camping out, having a garden, exploring stuff), that I don’t feel like we are missing out.

  3. Griffin Says:

    It would be interesting to read more about how you navigate this. I find myself in an interesting moment where I could really pile things on for the next year in terms of two professional commitments–one exciting full-time role and one consulting project–a major volunteer commitment on top of parenting and other life responsibilities. Do I embrace 9 very full months or do I listen to my gut (or fear) that this could be too much?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I have been piling things on. You would not believe the amount of traveling I’m doing this year. I missed a major deadline (I was on track to get it in, but there was miscommunication with the uni and a co-PI) and have been barely not missing other deadlines. There’s been a lot of satisficing going on. And I’m dealing with various levels of radio-silence from coauthors which means R&R are not getting resubmitted and rejections are not going to other journals.

      I’m not doing volunteering or consulting though. And I did finally get a chance to say no to a referee report (I don’t say no to personal letters from editors or to top journals or to money!)

  4. waltless Says:

    Yes. Canoe North America’s rivers.

  5. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Is it sad that I want time off from work so that I can work?

  6. Cloud Says:

    Oh that sucks. I guess I can understand that if they’ve already made the class schedule it would be hard to change… but it still sucks.

    I sort of feel like I am half on sabbatical now, with my current “contract half time, work on projects half time” arrangement. So I guess the answer (so far) is: write & publish a book about how to run a non-academic job search and start a blog about management (I don’t think it will mess up my google-hiding to link to that here, so here it is for anyone who’s curious: http://beyondmanaging.com/). Upcoming plans are to try out app programming to see if I think I can make myself capable of tackling some of my bigger ideas in that space in a reasonable amount of time. Also, see if I can make enough money on the job search ebook to convince myself that I could make money publishing other people’s short ebooks. Oh, and soon I’ll be spending a lot of time promoting Petunia, the Girl Who Was NOT a Princess!

    So, yeah, even a semi-sabbatical is awesome. I hope you get one next year. Even if everything I’m doing this year crashes and burns and I have to find another full time job, I’ll never regret doing this because I haven’t had this much fun at work in ages.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Class schedules are not that hard to change. It’s just obnoxious.

      That’s great that you’re having so much fun! That’s how work *should* be. I just want more time to do more of that…

  7. The frugal ecologist Says:

    That is really really shitty about the sabbatical. Hopefully next year’s committee will be reminded that the other guys got 2 in a row. (& hopefully your dept like mine rewards those who wait their turn – like you are doing.)

    Great for you for so much going on. Hope coauthors & collaborators pull their weight so you can get stuff DONE! & bummer about the grant – things like that are so frustrating. We once had a 5M grant (w only 3 competitors!!) not get submitted due to SPO error…grr.

  8. Rented life Says:

    I can’t believe they just let the sabbatical go instead if awarding it to someone else.

    One school I was at wouldn’t award sabbaticals to clinical profs even though they had to do the same level of work, research, service to get promoted.

    I’d like a sabbatical to get back to writing my book. All my awake non-baby time/non-take of of crap around the house time (budget, laundry etc) is spent working. Husband’s job situation is looking increasingly grim and he made need to leave which is a cut in income. I’m trying to prepare for that and get us out of debt. Plus it’s hard to get rid of the internal jerk that says I should be making $$$ instead of being selfish. I want a sabbatical from her too.

  9. chacha1 Says:

    My industry doesn’t offer sabbaticals to staffers. :-) What I would REALLY like is to be on salary basis so that on a slow day I could just go home. I would happily take a pay cut for that. It will never happen. Hourly wage = must be present.

  10. plantingourpennies Says:

    My MIL spent her sabbatical a couple of years ago in FL re-acquainting herself with the beach. Shortly after returning she started figuring out how long it would take her before she could collect her pension. She’s (literally) counting the days now. It’s funny. Without that sabbatical she might have been content to work much longer but she got a taste of life without 1000 emails per day (she still had some, but not nearly as many as she really worked on delegating during her sabbatical) and REALLY liked it.

  11. gwinne Says:

    Yeah, I’d like a sabbatical. I mean I just had one in 2012 but it wasn’t REAL because I was still doing service work and had an infant (who had surgery and then illness after illness) and I never slept so book manuscript? still in progress.

    After this year I think I can reapply for a uni grant, though, which gives a course release and that would be just swell.

  12. Liz Says:

    Longtime reader, first time commenter. I am on sabbatical right now, and it is pretty much the best thing ever. I’m not doing anything special–just working from home and going to the gym and walking the dog in the woods and practicing my mandolin (because, nerd). I’m getting so much done in so little time! It’s quite remarkable what you can accomplish when you’re not overloaded with service and busy with grading…and when your brain is not clouded with all the usual office annoyances.

    I took the whole year, so I’m a little more broke than usual, but I don’t mind at all. I’m hoping to come up for Full in two or three years, and with any luck this year will get me most of the way there. (It will pay for itself in just a few years after that.) Many other industries should offer sabbaticals. Everyone needs one once in a while, and I think there would be a good return on investment for employers. I’ll be a much better professor when I return, mainly because I won’t be utterly insane.

  13. gwinne Says:

    Also, interesting how different places define sabbatical. At my university, it is the ONLY type of release that gets you out of everything, not just teaching. But it requires an application and a follow-up report: that is, it needs to be for research, and although one is eligible after teaching 7 years, it’s not a guarantee.

    Other “research leaves” (i.e. grants,various contractual leaves, etc) get you out of teaching but not service or general obligations.

  14. MutantSupermodel Says:

    When it rains, it monsoons.

    A sabbatical? I honestly have no idea. I’d probably intern somewhere so I can get into better jobs.

  15. contingentcassandra Says:

    Yes, yes, I need one. After 25 years in the classroom, and 14 in my present (4/4, NTT) job, I really need one. Unfortunately, the only way to get one is to win an outside fellowship or grant that will fully replace a salary (including summer salary) that just covers my expenses. Since many fellowships/grants are designed to replace 50% of (term-time) salary, with the assumption that the recipient’s home university will cover the rest (including insurance), that’s a potential problem, especially since my salary is now c. 66-75% of a tenure-track salary (rather than 50%, as it once was. In all other ways, this is, of course, good news). I might also be able to combine two awards, if I can win two awards at once in a highly competitive climate, that is, and if they don’t both insist on being my main source of income.

    In short, the difficulty of funding any kind of leave if you’re off the tenure track is one of the many things that tends to keep people off the tenure track if they land there for more than a few years early in their careers. I’m trying to figure out ways around this problem, and have some ideas, and some (dwindling) resources that may allow me to do so, but it’s all a lot more complicated than being eligible to apply for a sabbatical at one’s home institution (though I realize that process is, as you describe, increasingly complicated and competitive and just plain ridiculous/frustrating).

    If I got a sabbatical, I would spend it working on a book (I will soon be working on a book anyway, just much more slowly). If it were for at least 12 months, I’d also take a full month off at the beginning, and a couple of week-long vacations somewhere in the middle. 15 months? I’d take a full summer (or the 3-month equivalent; I’d really love to have a month off when the weather is nice, which in my neck of the woods means right about now, or mid-April through May). 15 months plus extra money (or concurrent winning of the lottery I don’t play): several months off, some of them spent traveling (probably one of those walking tours where they tote your luggage from B&B to B&B for you, maybe in England).

    What I might realistically be able to swing in the next 3 years: a summer off, perhaps even a summer spent mostly in archives thanks to a modest fellowship (that might require subleasing and partially moving out of my apartment, however, which would be doable, and probably lead to better organization of the space, but would also be a time-suck). Making eccentric housing choices to cut my baseline expenses (e.g. living a long drive from work & present community-based activities/connections) is probably my best bet in general for freeing up money for other purposes, and I may yet do it (I only need to go to campus twice a week, and might even be able to spend a full semester teaching online now and then). The main costs would be the disruption of moving, perhaps repeatedly (though perhaps between familiar spaces), and the loss of connections/community in my present area. Those costs are real, and I’m still trying to figure out whether the tradeoffs would be worth it.


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