For most of us, a university is a place where ideas are discovered, nurtured, and passed on to others, and for that reason, being a professor isn't just a career—it's a lifestyle. At the same time, the road to an academic career is rocky and can be frustrating, involving several years of study and an incredible amount of work. Pursuing a career in academia is a huge commitment and carries great responsibility: after all, classroom discourse can influence young minds and shape their futures.
It is exhilarating to discuss interesting people, ideas, and innovations in classrooms and with colleagues every day. Nothing can match the thrill of the thought that one is making a real difference in students' lives.
It is a real privilege to be able to decide one's areas of research and study. Many universities leave it to professors' discretions to structure their time and efforts. Flexible schedules and hours are the norm.
Tenure allows senior faculty members to work on complex projects that might take years. Some use their tenure to write. In addition to academic freedom, tenures also brings status and job security.
Sabbaticals provide professors with large blocks of free time and freedom to pursue long lists of goals. They also provide excellent opportunities for professors to reconsider what they are doing and return refreshed.
The cliché associated with academia is that "students keep you young." It's true—a constant influx of students injects new ideas and youthful enthusiasm into professors' souls.
The Academic Year
School year cycles are a delightful combination of regularity and variety. Every fall the academic year begins with great excitement; December brings a brief respite; and spring is all about faculty recruitments and graduate admissions. Every year brings new students, new aspirations, and new challenges.
Academia saves one from pushing papers, keying in data, or performing addition and subtraction. Professors spend most of their time sharing their knowledge and ideas, receiving feedback, and being mentors.
New Knowledge and Skills
Professorship affords the freedom to define an area of research, set up a research lab, and carry out research contributing to the enrichment of one's field. Freedom to present the results of the research at conferences and in publications provides professors with intellectual satisfaction. Paid study trips make the profession even more attractive.
It may be difficult to find a place with more outstanding and fabulous colleagues than at universities. For variety, the place also abounds with the craziest people in the world.
Very few careers can match the academic career in offering long breaks for Thanksgiving and the holidays. Plus, summers are open. Most professors utilize their free time to complete their unfinished writing projects and enrich themselves.
If leading a purposeful life is more important to you than pay and prestige, you should consider an academic profession.