My job at UMKC is a staff position, not a faculty one, so I do not have summers “off” (faculty don’t really have summers off, either, since they do research and course prep during the summer, despite not
being on contract, but that’s a different post). It used to be, however, that things slowed down a bit in the summer, giving me a fair amount of time to plan for the upcoming year, work on syllabi, and maybe even sneak in some time to work on my own research. Over the last few years, the pace has picked up tremendously — to the point, where the only way I know it’s summer is that I’m not teaching and I’m home most nights (for which I am terribly grateful, mind you!). Nonetheless, I miss the days where I could have 2, 3, even 4 days with no meetings or orientations scheduled — just lots of quiet time in the office to work on the larger projects that always seem to get pushed aside in the craziness of the academic year.
When I start thinking like this, though, I wonder — was it really ever that quiet? Or am I remembering what I want to remember? Certainly, my summers in grad school were very busy. And now that I no longer have a dissertation to write and no grading in the summer, my weekends are actually my own. So maybe it’s really not that bad? Hard to know. What I do know is that the knowledge that I’m out of the office 3 out of the next 4 weeks for a conference and vacation, with 5 weeks between the end of my vacation (in Door County, where I will enjoy a week of sunsets like the one pictured here) and the start of the semester, throws me into a complete panic. And there, I think, is the issue: as someone from the East Coast, I am accustomed to the semester’s starting after Labor Day. For the last 10 years, however, I’ve lived in places where we start in mid- to late August and I’ve just never gotten used to it. I still expect to be able to go on vacation in July and then have the full month of August and some of September to get ready for classes to start. When it’s not there, I freak out. Perhaps some day I’ll adjust (but I doubt it).
What about at your institutions? Does summer seem busier than in previous years? Do you start in August or September and does that make a difference to your perception of how much quiet time you have during the summer?