I've had one full time job in my life. It was a teaching job and I got about 2.5 weeks of annual vacation. I had a great time my first year, learned a lot, and I think I improved quite a bit as a teacher. I really liked my students as well.

But going from the second year into the third, I found the meagre amount of annual leave I got to be more and more insufficient. As a student, I had always been able to feel refreshed at the start of each school year because I got a 8 week break in the summer. I'm good at saving money, and so I desperately wanted to be able to choose to take unpaid vacation time without losing my job.

My understanding is that it's easier to get a job with said schedule flexibility at the K-12 level than at the university level. However, I'd rather teach university undergrads. The class I really liked teaching at my old school was the research class where the students had just started developing more advanced critical thinking and academic research skills.

I know a lot of university professors/lecturers must do a lot of research over all the semester breaks to keep their jobs for the next academic year, and that's not really what I want.

So I'm wondering if anyone has a uni job (FT, with some kind of health insurance) where you can choose to take a "summer vacation" (or winter one, whatever), and if so, what country you're in and how you got the job...?

I have a M.A. in Media Research/Cultural Studies and I'm getting another M.A. in Linguistics/TESL.

I'm questioning the received wisdom of "get as high a salary as you can so you can be comfortable when you retire or maybe retire early" because I'm only 30 and my health is already not great, so sometimes I wonder if I'll even make it to 65.

(I know some people will think I'm a lazy, horrible teacher for caring about vacation as much as I do, but I've done that self-flagellation for the previous two years and life is too short for any more of that.)

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    I fear there's an element of "welcome to the real world" here :-/ (although if you're in the US, which you sounds like you are, the "real world" there is rather harsher than the rest of the developed world when it comes to annual leave) A senior figure might be able to negotiate such an arrangement, but that would be lot harder for somebody starting their career. But maybe somebody else will come along with a great idea! – Flyto Oct 6 '18 at 8:42
  • "it's easier to get a job with said schedule flexibility at the K-12 level" --- This can sometimes be more difficult, at least in the U.S., since department of education credits and certification is almost always required (exceptions being in some private schools). "to keep their jobs for the next academic year" --- It rarely works this way, at least in the U.S. What is usually the case is the "keep their jobs" part is several years down the road. Indeed, research done one year might not even get through journal reviewers until well into the following year. – Dave L Renfro Oct 6 '18 at 15:32

There are some universities and colleges in the US that require very little research of faculty and stress teaching above all else. In such a place, you have no research commitment, of course, but you probably still need to find the time to develop new courses and gather and create material for them. If, in your field, "taking time off" means things like creating new courses by visiting museums, and such then you can combine work and leisure. But it is rare in education at any level in the US to have no expectations for 2-3 months per year.

There is more to "teaching" than teaching, even when there is no formal research requirement. But, most places, even those with quite modest reputations do require research and some publication, even if not at the level of R1 universities.

Think of an academic position as full time. Actually, think of it as 24/7/52. Even when you aren't actively engaged in teaching/creating you need to be thinking about what comes next. Even something as seemingly simple as "keeping up with your field" can be a fairly major undertaking in some disciplines.

Also, you may have a bit of a misunderstanding. Most academics (other than adjuncts) don't work on yearly contracts. The commitment is usually a bit longer. A person on the tenure track can usually expect a three or four year contract initially with a review at the end of it and a final review in the seventh year. The "annual contract" isn't about continuation, in most places, but about salary and, when necessary, changing expectations. Of course, you can be fired for egregious misbehavior, even with a contract.

Finally, I'll note that some top universities in the US (Duke, Stanford, ...) have a special category of Teaching Faculty, whose expectations are more in teaching with somewhat lower research expectations. But lower doesn't mean less, it means, in some cases, more pedagogically focused than strict theory of the discipline. 24/7/52.


The research over any free time (weekends etc) does not really determine the job for the next academic year, but in the longer term (getting tenure in 5-7 years). So if you wanted to, you could take the summer (and other) breaks as long vacations, understanding the consequences in say a 5-year perspective.

Academic administrators (or most support staff in a university) effectively have long vacations, because when there are no students on campus, there is little for them to do. Administration may not have the "variety and academic rigour" that the title of your question asks for, but it has job security, health insurance, family-friendliness, etc.

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    "Academic administrators (or most support staff in a university) effectively have long vacations" [citation needed] – Flyto Oct 6 '18 at 9:11
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    Actually, I think that administrators work year round and find that some of the heaviest workload is when there are no students. There is always recruitment of both students and faculty as well as policy meetings, etc. – Buffy Oct 6 '18 at 11:13
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    In support of the need for documentation of support and administrators' long vacations, consider summer school, conferences, and short courses. Many universities use their facilities for those purposes during vacations. Faculty and graduate students may be there year-round. – Patricia Shanahan Oct 6 '18 at 18:05

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