Friday, March 18, 2011

On Spring Break

A perusal of my posts on the topic of Spring Break reveals that I have discussed this excellent concept in a few contexts:

March 2009: my thoughts on the correspondence or lack thereof between my school-aged daughter's spring break vs. my university's spring break. Summary: I am happy when they don't coincide.

12 March 2010: a brief mention of the practical and emotional significance of spring break in the quarter vs. semester systems.

Also: A few scattered polls and discussions about whether we, as professors, do (and should) give an exam during the class immediately before (or immediately after) a break, and somewhere in the archives, I am pretty sure I discussed the issue of how advisors feel about students who use spring break for vacation vs. getting work done. I'm not all in the mood to revisit that topic today, but I do want to follow up on this:

8 March 2010: a poll to determine who will be off campus but working, off campus but not working, on campus and happily working, or on campus and unhappily working. This poll had separate parts for professors/postdocs and grad students. My vote was for 'on campus/happily working', and I would vote the same way this year. The 2010 results, based on 408 professor/postdoc votes and 279 grad student votes:

PROFESSORS/POSTDOCS
working: on campus/happy (44%), off campus (27%), on campus/not happy (17%);
not working: 12%

GRAD STUDENTS
working: on campus/happy (41%), off campus (23%), on campus/not happy (22%);
not working: 14%

So, the results turned out about the same for both groups. A lot of us work during spring break, most happily, BUT now I want to redo the poll, subdividing professors and postdocs. Who is toiling on campus and who is basking in Cancun (or their back yard)? Let's find out:

What are you doing for Spring Break? (PROFESSORS)
off campus and working
off campus and not working
on campus and working (unhappily)
on campus and working (happily)
pollcode.com free polls

What are you doing for Spring Break? (POSTDOCS)
off campus and working
off campus and not working
on campus and working (unhappily)
on campus and working (happily)
pollcode.com free polls

What are you doing for Spring Break? (GRADS)
off campus and working
off campus and not working
on campus and working (unhappily)
on campus and working (happily)
pollcode.com free polls

26 comments:

Jon said...

Postdoc at a lab, no spring break.

As a grad student, I took one spring break off, my first. The rest were spent in increasingly frantic (and unhappy) work.

Anonymous said...

I am a postdoc who responded that I spent spring break working (happily). The lovely thing about spring break at my large state university is that for one blissful week, I could actually find a seat on the bus to and from campus. [The downside was having to wait another week for our (only) autoclave to be repaired because the facilities coordinator was on vacation, too.]

Anonymous said...

At my institution, grad students do not get a spring break. Grad classes are still held and you are expected to be in lab.

Anonymous said...

As a postdoc even more so than a grad student, the more appropriate answer to this question would be "It's spring break?" I am completely unaware of the academic calendar at my university, so I happily work through spring break, and happily take vacation when it's convenient (i.e., rarely).

Anonymous said...

I chose to answer the poll as "professor" even though I'm non-tenure-track faculty, not tenure-track. Depending on who you talk to, my position is either research-focused and appropriately at the faculty level (ie: not training), or "an extended postdoc" (very frustrating to be viewed this way, as I already had a very successful postdoc position).

Anonymous said...

Off campus and not working for the first time I can remember. Although I am working (off campus) on both weekends bracketing spring break.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to point out that I am a postdoc at a US University and we do not have spring break. I don't know why there is no spring break at this Univ, although I guess in the fall they don't do a break either.

Anonymous said...

unless postdocs are off in some separate research institute, it's impossible not to be aware of spring break. It's either a great time to get work done (fewer interruptions because people are away; no talks/seminars/meetings) or a great time to take some vacation (because some things shut down on campus).

Kim U said...

Our spring break was last week and, I have to admit, I didn't even realize it was spring break. I'm not teaching any classes this semester plus I've had my head down working on a conference submission, didn't even notice the lighter-than-usual presence of undergrads around until the last day of their break.

Patchi said...

We take vacation at random times, so I do not worry about the academic schedule.

Anonymous said...

I am a professor, but my postdocs like to take vacation at spring break because a lot of campus centers shut down over the break and a lot of people are away. This is fine with me. I like to stay and work for the same reason.

MathTT said...

As a cost-saving measure, our campus instituted "Green Days" over spring break where they close down all buildings with A/C (yes, it's an issue here even in March) including all libraries. (Some labs with sensitive materials are exempt.) I find this stupid in the extreme at an R-1, but have decided to roll with it. It happens that my birthday coincides with spring break (or nearly so), so it's vacation last year, this year, and every year that campus is shuttered.

As a grad student and postdoc, there was a fabulous week-long conference I went to every spring break. But my institutions break is the week after the conference, so I only go occasionally now.

Anonymous said...

I'm teaching for the 1st time and really wanted to take a vacation over spring break. Unfortunately, a major grant proposal due date is the Friday of spring break so working unhappily I am.

Post-doc said...

I loved working spring break this year - everything is so quiet and peaceful and I got SO much done. My commute was shorter and there was easy parking. :-) My PI and lab manager and undergrads were all gone.

When I was a grad student, I always viewed spring break as an undergrad thing. I think it was because I worked for a few years before grad school and viewed vacations as things planned around your research, not your research planned around a university schedule. That's probably why I work the week between Christmas and New Years now too.

Anonymous said...

I was looking forward to working for most of spring break on various research projects as well as catching up on a couple of non-work-related projects at home. My happiness quickly transformed into grumpiness after my PI scheduled mandatory meetings on Wed. and Fri. of spring break, and then proceeded to change the times of those meetings 2 hours before so that they interfered with already-made plans.

I feel like it's fine if I choose to work on Spring Break, but scheduling meetings without knowing whether I planned to be out of town or not was rather unreasonable, and moving them at the last minute was more so.

Jocelyn said...

Postdoc: I put working off campus, but I actually went in to campus yesterday to meet with my supervisor and attend a talk (and enjoy the quiet). However (as a fairly location-unconstrained theorist) I am working from home much more in this week because there are not as many events to go to on-campus and I like my home office better.

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in the comment that Spring Break is mostly for undergrads. All but one or two of my grad students are away this week. This is fine with me -- they have been working hard! -- but is it usual for grad students to work this week? Perhaps this poll will provide some insight.

Anonymous said...

I'm a TT professor and voted "off campus, not working." I spent my spring break at my parents' home cooking and running errands and helping my mother who was just released from the hospital after extensive surgery following a second bout with breast cancer. Not exactly a vacation. Otherwise, I would have been in the office, happily working.

Anonymous said...

If only the person whose office next to mine didn't think Spring Break was a good excuse to whistle tunelessly!

Neuronymous said...

Like most of you, I didn't even realize that spring break started today until an undergraduate RA reminded us that she would be out of town. I love the abandoned campus and the quiet - it's a nice taste of what summer is like. Plus, the parking is much better.

Anonymous said...

Define work - I am home working my tail off catching up on all the home repair issues that I have put of doing - I'll be glad to go back to work for a rest.

Anonymous said...

I didn't vote since half of the break I was on campus and working (happily) and half the time I was off campus and half working/half vacationing with my family (professor). I am glad I took the short vacation with the family instead of working on campus the whole time - the break was much needed.

Karen said...

I spent the first few days of break on campus working, reasonably happily. I spent the last half of the break traveling to and from my grandmother's funeral. I'm now spending the last day of the weekend (through the night, probably until classes begin) unhappily working to catch up with what I planned on doing over "break". I'm not really sure where that puts me, a tt assistant professor, on your poll.

Katie said...

I am a postdoc and I voted for "on campus and working (unhappily)." I don't actually know when our spring break is, but since I'm always on campus and working (unhappily), that was my choice. I'm not unhappy because I'm working during spring break, though, I'm just unhappy working here at all. Not sure I voted for the right one, but I couldn't bring myself to vote for a "happily" option...

AnthroBabe said...

So, one of my MA students went home for the entire week for Spring Break AND the student is taking a 3 week vacation during the summer. Additionally, the student told me she was thinking of working in a non-related job for six weeks in another state during the summer. To say that I was livid with this student's (non-existent) work ethic in a 2- year program is an understatement ...any advice?

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

"To say that I was livid with this student's (non-existent) work ethic in a 2- year program is an understatement ...any advice?"

Were you paying the student for the 9 weeks of summer she wasn't working for you? If so, you have a right to be livid. If not, what's your beef?