Academia, Parenting

Four reasons we didn’t move for an academic job

Years ago my mom told me a story about her mother-in-law (my grandmother) being aghast that she was not willing to blindly follow my father where his career may take him. Times have certainly changed. Generally, in academia there is one of each specialized position at a university (possibly more if you’re going R1, but that is a different post for a different day). This lack of positions means that most academics need to either settle for a position that isn’t exactly what they were hoping for or settling for a location that is less than ideal. There was even a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education dealing with this drawback of academia.

Many of my academic friends moved for their positions – leaving their hometowns, time zones, and, in a handful of cases, spouses behind. I’m not willing to do that.  Here’s why.

  1. Our kids

Duh. Kids change everything, right. I want my kids to grow up knowing their grandparents. Simple as that.

2. Research Interests Change

Naturally, being tethered to a specific location limited my options for positions available. I took a job I never could have imagined I’d take before (and up to the exact moment) I signed the contract. Over the years I’ve learned from my colleagues, I’ve taken opportunities to branch out in my own research, and, ultimately, my research has evolved. I haven’t abandoned all of what I began exploring in grad school, but the world is a vast place.

3. Change Isn’t Always for the Best

While I was writing my dissertation, my husband and I decided to move. We wanted to live near mountains, outdoor activities, and a young population. The location we selected was awesome on paper and we both found jobs nearly immediately (a sign, right?). However we regretted our move within weeks of unpacking the U-Haul. That “grass is always greener” saying was true for us – what we know may not be exciting, but it is comfortable. Vacations are for exploring new places, but for the everyday we prefer our hometowns.

4. Moving Doesn’t Solve Problems

There will always be issues that seem like they could be resolved by a change in locale. Guess what, distance doesn’t change most things. Personal conflicts, marital issues, health problems – these all follow you regardless of where you are geographically.

I’m not ruling out the possibility that some day we’ll move for another job – though hopefully that move (if it happens) will be sooner rather than later as once the kids get into school it will be more of a hassle to change school districts. What were some of the reasons you didn’t (or did!) make a move for a job?


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