Anyways, there was a relatively recent exchange starting about here that warrants further discussion. Anon 6:16 said (this is long, but worth reading in full),
After a number of years on the job (and several search committees), I feel comfortable saying that one reason so many people end up unhappy is that they were unprepared for what a full-time job as an academic requires. Grad school is wonderful in many ways: the teaching load is low, the service expectations are almost non-existent, and one is encouraged to spend most of one's time in research. Further, while conferences and publications are celebrated, they are not required. (That is, I have never heard of a grad student losing funding because he/she was not publishing.) Because of this, many graduates become frustrated very quickly when they realize that the job is not at all like grad school.
Recent hires (and I've noticed this in my program, other programs at my university, and other universities) are often unprepared for certain aspects of the job. Advising students (which requires learning how the major, the minor, and the college gen-ed programs all work) is both new and time-consuming for new faculty. As is service. Both of these are - for the first few years - a huge time-suck, and many get frustrated at how this works takes away from the parts of the job people are expecting (teaching and research).
But just as importantly, even if one is prepared for the teaching, new hires (particularly at my school, with a 4/4 load, or a SLAC with a 3/3 load) often end up teaching more courses/semester on the job than in grad school. So one must spend more time on teaching, *and* find time to sit on the department curriculum committee, meet with the faculty senate, and schedule 20 advising appointments just when you finish grading midterms. Additionally, one is often preparing new courses for the first couple of years (especially in small departments, where one is expected to cover more areas). Though this is no less the case at research schools; even if one is hired to a sweet 2/2 load at an R1, one may still find oneself preparing a graduate seminar for the first time (which, while fun, still takes time).
And additionally, one must research. Not that one should research, but one must research. Unlike grad school, research on the job is most certainly tied to your funding: publish or perish. This is true for all levels. "Teaching schools" may have lower publication requirements for tenure and promotion, but those requirements are still higher than what one found in grad school. In grad school, presenting at conferences and publishing articles was a job well done; in a TT position, they are how you survive reappointment. And given that many people want to publish their way into a better job, they are taking on R1 publishing expectations in addition to all the advising, service, and additional work on teaching expected of new hires.
In my first two years on the job, it didn't matter where in the country I was, because most of my time was spent in the office anyway. Rural Mississippi or mid-town Manhattan wouldn't have mattered; I spent more than 12 hours a day on campus. Yes, location will matter in the long run, but in those first few years on campus, most new hires are run so ragged that they have no idea where they are anyway.
Good schools do what they can to minimize this culture shock: no advising first year, reduced teaching load first year, easy committee assignments at first, etc. Even still, it's a huge change, and one that few PhD programs seem to prepare their graduates for. I think it's a shame that hD programs don't do a better job of preparing grads for the jobs they are sending students out to. It's frustrating that so many grad programs assume that they only job worth getting is a TT job in the field, and then turn a blind eye to what such jobs will actually require of their graduates.
Then, Squid Pro Quo said,
Anon 6:16 makes several excellent points - especially about the transition from grad school to teaching a 3/3 or 4/4 load. This is why I strongly disagree w/Dr. Kelsky's claim that there's no point in teaching more than 3 courses in grad school. I taught or TA-ed for 8 courses in graduate school, and have found that experience invaluable now that I'm teaching a 3/3 load. Having lots of teaching experience as a grad student enables you to know how to quickly and effectively design syllabi, grade, lesson plan, etc. All this experience has made the adjustment to a 3/3 teaching load much smoother for me.
And then 6:16 replied (in part),
Maybe we could have a thread based on 7:15's comment? That is, for those who have recently been hired (and have spent at least one year in that job), what do you wish you knew ahead of time? What kinds of training/preparation/etc. was helpful for the transition, or would have been helpful? [...] Similarly, what should hiring departments do? In my department, new hires have a year off from advising and are given easy committee assignments at first. In the second year, new hires are given advisees. In the third year, they are expected to branch out from department service to university service. But even with this system, the shock to many new hires is still profound.
When I was in grad school, I taught at most one class at a time, and was responsible for maybe 50 students per semester. I made myself pretty much always highly available to them. For example, I'd answer emails immediately whenever they came in, even if it was pretty late at night or on the weekend, and I'd offer to read and comment on their exam study-guide practice essays, which, since I employ blue-book essay exams, could be as much as eight or ten essays per student who took me up on it.
Nowadays--and this connects with some stuff Second Suitor was talking about the other day--I generally teach four classes at a time, with two or three preps, and am responsible for at least 200 students. This is a lot more work, and I can't do that stuff anymore. I generally always respond to every email (once in a while one slips through the cracks), but if it comes in after I've started working on/eating dinner or watching baseball, it's going to wait until morning. And if it comes in on the weekend, it might wait until Monday. And while I'm happy to answer specific questions about the study guide, I don't offer to read whole study guides and say what all is wrong with it, and I decline any such requests.
I guess what I'm getting at is, because the teaching duties of my VAP job involve a lot more work than my grad school teaching duties (duh), I've found that I have to put a wall around them. This is partly to protect my personal life, so that my wife knows that I'm spending the evenings with her and not my students. But it also protects other aspects of my professional life, since I also need to spend time writing papers, refereeing, and staying current on the literature. And I did not find that I needed any such wall in grad school.