TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Saturday, June 17, 2017

How Professors Can Avoid The 'Summer Slump'

Chronicle of Higher Education, More Than a ‘Summer Slump’: How the Loss of Structure Affects Academics:

For nine months a year at research universities, instructors and students build communities from a transient group of academics unified by one thing: classes. Professors invest time in students, committees, and teaching; students invest time in their assignments. Pushed to the side are research projects, dissertations, authorial goals, and, often, social lives.

That changes in the summer. The fixed schedule disappears, the community disperses, and the work that has been building up over the school year can loom dangerously close to deadline. Although professors sometimes teach summer courses, those classes are often less time-intensive, leaving weeks of unregulated time between sessions.

It’s in that solitude that professors and students say they experience what some call a "summer slump," a period of isolation that can heighten symptoms of depression or anxiety for those susceptible to such disorders. ...

Many professors who spoke to The Chronicle learned to cope on their own, but are sharing ways young academics can create and attain their own social structure.

Mx. Stewart said a step toward making the issue more widely known would be simple: talk about it. If universities started the conversation with their professors, professors could speak with their students, and the domino effect would normalize their experiences.

Mr. Hall bookends his summertime schedule with activities he looks forward to, such as going for a run in the morning or picking up his children at school in the afternoon. Setting those deadlines, he said, keeps him motivated throughout the day. He also runs the Twitter account @AcademicsSay, which he uses to comment on academic life. He said he interacts with many professors who feel the same way on social media.

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How are summer classes less time intensive? I'm teaching one 4-credit class and we meet in three 3-hour sessions each week.

Posted by: Matthew Bruckner | Jun 17, 2017 10:50:35 AM

To the contrary, summer is the only time most academics can get real work done. One has to wonder about anyone who doesn't know this.

Posted by: mike livingston | Jun 18, 2017 4:54:51 AM