Monday, March 08, 2010

Breaking for Spring?

Who is staying away from campus for Spring Break by choice (i.e., not owing to a furlough)? Who is doing this because otherwise they will have a dire childcare challenge? Who is staying away from campus for a week as a sanity break so that they can face the rest of the academic year with renewed energy?

Of those avoiding campus: Will you be going somewhere (preferably fun and interesting) or just staying home (and possibly working there)?

Who will be on campus but would rather not be there? Who will be on campus because if they don't, they fear the consequences (from their adviser, from their advisees, from a promotion & tenure committee, from collaborators)?

If you are a graduate student, has your adviser specifically discussed with you whether you can/should/will work over Spring Break? If so, what did they say? If not, what do you think they would say?

And who is going to be on campus because they want to be there -- to enjoy a week of relative quiet in their office, catch up on research, get ready for post-break classes, and possibly even clean their desk and its immediate surroundings? (<-- I am voting for this one.)

What are you doing for Spring Break? (professors, postdocs)
off campus but working
off campus and not working
on campus and working (but would rather not be)
on campus and working (happily!)
pollcode.com free polls
What are you doing for Spring Break? (grad students)
off campus but working
off campus and not working
on campus and working (but would rather not be)
on campus and working (happily!)
pollcode.com free polls

46 comments:

Miss Outlier said...

My first year as a grad student, I automatically made plans to go home and see my family over Spring Break. Until, that is, I met with my advisor the week before, and he mentioned "You will be here over break, right? That's the best time to work!" Ack!

This year I have a conference in Iceland over break, so I get to take spring vacation and still call it working... splendid!

thoughtcounts Z said...

What's the appropriate option to check if you are attending a major, weeklong conference in your field that just happens to fall during your spring break? It's not exactly working from home, but would that fall under "off campus but working"?

Anonymous said...

Couldn't really fit into your categories, so here goes. Faculty.
No childcare. Husband and I splitting time in office M & T (and this past weekend). Wednesday - Sunday we all go to our annual conference -- so again splitting work & childcare there.

Rana said...

Happily working at the phyics lab at my college, cleaning the science and math building, working on experiments and hopefully getting a little pre tutoring before I enter the calculus based Physics series

Lucy said...

One quarter of grad students take the undergraduate holidays?! Is this why American PhDs take so long?

Anonymous said...

As a grad student, our advisers were very specific about vacation times: one week during summer and one week during Christmas (when the campus was closed, anyway, and we couldn't get any deliveries of supplies, etc.) Also, at that time, Saturdays were another weekday, and Sundays were strongly encouraged but "attendance" was not monitored. At the time, I found this to be good practice for getting work done. However, after 7 years of this (grad student + postdoc), I did become burned out and began taking Sundays off. Now, as a Prof., I also take Sundays off, but otherwise have not changed my habits significantly, work-time wise, from grad student days.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of childcare emergencies, here's another survey I'd like to see:

Does your kid's spring break coincide with your spring break?

Anonymous said...

I would be on campus working happily but instead I'll be off campus at a conference, which I count as working.

Joseph said...

OU's spring break coincides with the march meeting. Otheriwse, this postdoc would be working locally. :)

fsgs said...

Thesis due to committee in t minus four weeks. I could really use a break right now, but alas, it is not to be!

Anonymous said...

Spring break? What's that?

No such thing at my institution.

Chris Dieni said...

Out of curiosity, what's your opinion towards grad students and/or postdocs and Spring Break?

I'm currently a postdoc, and I haven't had a Spring Break since the spring of 2004 when I was an undergraduate (and even then, as a science undergraduate, you usually have a ton of work and midterms to prepare for over your "break"). For that matter, I've never taken a "non-Christmas" vacation, whether it be in spring, summer, or fall.

I don't know, but after six years after breaks only around Christmas and no additional time off, a Spring Break would've been a refreshing change...

Anonymous said...

I am one of those who is working happily during break, with a little more breathing room, and who works during the summer whether or not I am able to pay myself a full summer salary (increasingly rare). My job is my career, and my commitment to it is not tethered tightly to the academic calendar or the hours the state pays.

Each year I watch as first year grad students in my field make the adjustment from the student mindset to the scientist mindset. This has many dimensions (e.g., learning because its important rather than because someone is evaluating you), and one of them is adopting a new calendar. There are no Spring or Fall breaks in my world. That doesn't mean one cannot take a reasonable amount of vacation time, but np university employe gets breaks "off". Even if you have not yet realized that you'll progress only on the basis of your own accomplishments, students in my discipline are receiving a small but not insignificant paycheck, and taking off Fall, Spring and Winter breaks plus vacation would put them on a different plane that the rest of us.

Mark P

Anonymous said...

We'll be on campus working over spring break, but taking a week's vacation somewhere warm & lovely in April - classes be damned.

Allison said...

(From a grad student)
We get university staff holidays off, and one day of spring break is one of those. I'm not sure yet if I'll work that day; it probably depends on whether we have good skiing conditions :) We don't have official vacation days, but my advisor lets us have about 2-3 weeks a year, and I've pretty much used mine up for this academic year.

Genomic Repairman said...

We were kindly informed by the DGS at the beginning of our matriculation that we get classes off for spring break but not any time off in the lab. Thus I am just happy for a one week break in classes and to gain some hours back to get some experiments run. I'd rather take my own vacation on my time and not when the schedule allows me.

Jen said...

I am a postdoc on a teaching/research fellowship. I teach at a campus 70 miles from my lab, so I am not on teaching-campus, but am working in the lab all week. My car is in the shop, enjoying a respite from the thrice-weekly commute.

female Science Professor said...

I would count a conference in the "off campus but working" category.

MiddleClassNonwhiteFemaleInHumanScience said...

my break has just ended, and here I see your post. solong, dear spring break. I work from home leisurely, and spent some time picking up music/art/etc. that couldn't fit in during regular working weeks.

Anonymous said...

Major weeklong conference in field, yes indeed...

amy said...

I am taking the week off and I have lots of fun home improvement projects planned. I've got 100 essay exams to grade this week, but I'm committed to getting them done before break starts. I realize this makes me "not serious" and "not dedicated" and "not in love with my work" in some people's eyes, but I could care less.

Anonymous said...

I like using break weeks (spring break, fall breaks, thanksgiving, etc) to do some research that is a bit outside of what I normally do. Like hammering out a side project I've been putting off during the rest of the academic year. It's the best time to get work done so I'm here working happily!

As to my adviser he would be fine with us taking time off over spring break if we wanted to (he realizes the importance of vacations), and I might actually do so if it overlapped with my SO's break. We'll be taking a short trip during his break.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, let's not start on the differences between American and European PhDs. No, it is not the vacation time (which is much more abundant in Europe anyway, so that argument doesn't hold water). I take a real spring break in part because in my field, summer = field season = absolutely no time off, whereas at this time of year the most exciting thing going on in lab is ordering stuff for summer.

Pagan Topologist said...

I found this poll to be difficult. I will be mostly on campus for my Spring Break at the end of the month, But later in the week I will take a three or four day road trip to see my daughter's graduate [voice] recital at a different university.

Anonymous said...

have a paper deadline on 13th, a homework due on 15th, have to attend a conference from 15th - 19th, have to present a paper at conference on 18th... there is a midterm on 17th.. which the professor agreed to take on 22nd... and here i am posting on the blog of an anonymous prof. :)

Katie said...

I will (hopefully) be on campus and defending my thesis! Very, very close to getting a date approved for that week. Best spring break ever ;)

Anonymous said...

The university works much better when the students are not around ...

(I am sure that the administration muses "The university works much better when the faculty are not around")

Ann said...

I actually do take about 2 weeks a year to go backpacking with my family in interesting places, but hardly anyone else I know in academia takes a non work related vacation, and most of the academics I know can't imagine why they would want to. We go to so many conferences and workshops in nice places anyway, and people often bring family members along to the more interesting ones. A response when I asked a colleague why he never takes vacations "My daily work life is interesting and enjoyable, but going on a vacation would stress me out".

Alex said...

For those of us on quarters, spring break is NOT a break. It's when you finish grading winter quarter finals* and start prepping spring quarter classes. The only things saving me are:

1) In spring I'm teaching 2 freshman labs that I've taught a gazillion times.
2) I'm also teaching a class that's a continuation of what I'm doing this quarter, so I'm in the groove for that class.
3) In the middle of the first week of spring quarter we have a state holiday, so I only have to prep 2 lectures of my MWF class, and nothing for my Weds labs.

So, not much time off, but I will take one day off for my sanity. Of course, my wife doesn't have off work that day, so I'll just sleep in, lounge around, go to the gym, and chill. Still, It's been a long, long time since I had a day of that.

*This is where somebody says "Grade them during finals week!" to which I reply with uproarious laughter. Besides, even if I wanted to, I'm giving a talk at a distant school during finals week, which means I'll be gone 3 days.

kelli said...

I spent most of the week happily working at home. Since I am in thesis-writing mode and my laptop is my "lab", this is better than going in to the department at the moment. No interruptions for seminars, and I get to sing along to the radio.

Dr. O said...

On campus and working...I don't think anybody around here (MRU) takes off, unless they want to take a vacation with the kids while they're out of school. But anyone deciding not to be here has to file for leave - the only thing that stops for spring break is classes.

Adam said...

Faculty. Going on actual vacation, to a warm place far away, with the (extended) family. But, will bring work and surely do some of it - just too many deadline-bearing commitments to take a week entirely off.

And yes, part of the reason for going on "vacation" is that we would have a child care issue regardless.

unlikelygrad said...

First-year grad student. Taking time off for spring break only because I'm just barely getting started on research. The guy who's supposed to be training me is finishing his thesis (he defends in a couple of weeks) so I really don't have much to do. Yet.

I'm assuming I will get neither Spring nor Summer breaks after this month--field work, as someone pointed out, is only possible during a very limited season.

Anonymous said...

My family lives on another continent and my SO lives a thousand miles away, so I travel to see one of them whenever I get the chance. I always carry my work with me and generally work at least 30-40 hrs/week during these trips, so I don't feel guilty about it. My advisor and most of the faculty are usually MIA during breaks too, anyway.

Anonymous said...

I'm taking 2 whole weeks off, which is almost unheard of! I don't think I've had such a long holiday since childhood. But I /am/ getting married, and the other half insisted...

Anonymous said...

Once again postdocs get left out. :( When I was a grad student, the idea of any "break" was that it was a time to be spent in the lab. I had 5 years to try and explain to friends and family that "breaks" (be they spring, fall, winter or summer) are not the same for graduate students as for undergrads. I had no idea some grad students took the breaks off. At the same time, we could take vacation - but that was worked out one-on-one with your advisor and could be at anytime that worked for both of you.

As a postdoc I'm an employee of a university. I work year-round and get the holidays and vacation days that other employees also receive. So, no - no spring break for me.

As a professor it will depend on so many things. What I need to get done at work. What I need to get done at home. (I'm currently expecting child #1, so I can see this being a BIG factor in decisions on this matter.) Is my spouse also free to take some time off? What is the culture of the institution? And, honestly, do I have tenure yet?

Anonymous said...

Spring? Hahh haha hha ha
Break? Ha ha ha


-antipodean

MathGirl said...

I really enjoy working in the week before christmas. This seems to be the least busy time, but there is no such thing as spring break here.

Anonymous said...

I'm in a combination of categories. I'm a faculty member (tenure-track, science) using Spring Break for a combination of things.

1. Happily working on campus, at reduced hours and in jeans and sneakers instead of dress pants and heels.
2. Running all the errands I have not had time to fit in during the semester. This includes an oil change for my car and a haircut, among other similarly exciting tasks.
3. I plan to have at least one lazy day, where I do not work and potentially stay in my pajamas or go to a movie. (Note: This day hasn't happened yet, but I'm hoping it will still be there sometime this week.)
4. The kiddo is in daycare all week!

mareserinitatis said...

Will be working at campus for a couple days, then taking a day trip with friends for a sanity break, and after that, will be working from home (or, more likely, a coffee shop). However, in my case, home will be in another town where my husband is, and not close to the university.

female Science Professor said...

How does a poll that specifies "professors and postdocs" leave out postdocs?

Kim said...

There are some great advantages to having the kid's spring break coincide with mine (for the first time ever). But the childcare emergency now coincides with a lot of grading to be done...

Anonymous said...

People looking forward to one-way "break"?
This is ridiculous.
How overworked they might be?

Laura said...

My advisor has shipped me off to another state to work in a collaborator's lab for a week. Although I do enjoy the free trip to somewhere beautiful, it's been about 90% work and only 10% vacation.

Anonymous said...

doesn't anyone else have issues with furloughs? not only are we - the faculty - technically on furlough (whatever), but the preschool staff are furloughed. No break care, which would normally be on offer, so I will only work the 2 days I can get child care (partial days). Doesn't sound like most of the respondents have kids. Working all break is a luxury.

Anonymous said...

grad student-- major epic FIELD TRIP to new zealand! so off-campus and working, but in the best way possible. :)