Being a College Professor Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be

Family life and emotional health of academics all suffer, according to academics

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Though it consistently ranks as one of the most desired professions in the country, being a college professor isn't all it's cracked up to be. Sure, professors have reduced summer hours, have flexible schedules, and their kids get discounted tuition, but according to a new study by sociologists Elaine Howard Ecklund of Rice University and Anne Lincoln of Southern Methodist University, the job's got a number of hidden downsides. Here's what they found and here's what they missed in their examination of the great ivory tower occupation.

It's bad for fathers  The sociologists' study, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, noted that men, in particular, were more dissatisfied with their work-and-family lives than women and that "one-quarter of male scientists at the nation's top research universities said their career has kept them from having as many children as they had wanted." Dr. Ecklund adds that "The fact that having fewer children than desired has a greater impact on men's life satisfaction is an important finding because most research on the relationship between family life and pursuing a career in science has focused almost exclusively on the lives of women."

It's bad for mothers  The sociologists' study found that if women professors wanted to have families, they often had to give up their dreams of becoming a tenured faculty member. "The average doctorate is awarded at 34, an age when many college-educated women are beginning families. Tenure, a defining moment in a professor's career, is decided roughly seven years later, just as the parenting window is closing. In other words, the pressures of new motherhood often bump up against the pressures to prove oneself and get tenure."

It's depressing  According to a survey by Christopher Willard, a clinical psychologist at Tufts University, the teaching profession is among the top 10 fields where full-time employees are most likely to report suffering from major depression in a given year. "The demands on teachers seem to be constantly growing," reads the report. "Many work after school and then take work home."

You can become a narcissistic jerk?  Though it doesn't pass the muster of a hard scientific study, Jeff Daniels's depiction of a loathsome, self-centered university professor in 2005's The Squid & the Whale was about as convincing as you can get in showing the pitfalls of raising a family whilst maintaining a pseudo-intellectual air (though presumably this could occur in a number of professions). Observe:

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