What they didn't teach you in grad school

The Assistant Professor Blog


Pre-tenure faculty need to conserve their limited time and energy for high impact activities that matter most for tenure and promotion. Here’s how to choose professional opportunities more wisely.

2 ways to think about professional opportunities before tenure


Though tenure denials loom large in the academic imagination, the fact is that most tenure-track faculty get tenure. Really. That probably won’t stop you from worrying, but I hope that you will be encouraged to worry less.

How much should you worry about tenure denial?


One of the best things you can do for your professional career and your chances of getting tenure is to accept fear as a part of life on the tenure track, but eject it from the driver’s seat.

Managing fear of failure on the tenure track


Feeling like a fish out of water in your first couple of years as an assistant professor is completely normal. But if you’d like to feel a little more like you know what you’re doing (by the way, you’re doing great!), these five books are a good place to start.

5 must-read books for pre-tenure faculty


The best strategy for earning tenure is deceptively simple: do deep work on promotable tasks on a regular basis. It’s simple because it’s fairly easy to understand why those who employ this strategy tend to have strong tenure files. It’s deceptive because implementing this strategy is hard.

Want to get tenure? Prioritize deep, promotable work

Work/life balance

Instead of viewing rest as something that gets in the way of their success, faculty should take a cue from professional athletes who view high performance and rest as two sides of the same coin.

What assistant professors can learn from elite athletes

Work/life balance

Teaching and service are gaseous in the sense that they will take up as much space as you give them. If you aren’t careful, you won’t have enough left over to devote to research, or you’ll end up working around the clock to fit it all in.

Why pre-tenure faculty must learn to say “no”

Work/life balance

Being productive does mean maximizing activity, it means optimizing activity. It’s less about how many hours you work, and more about how you use your working hours. Instead of doing more things, focus on doing the right things in the right way.

You don’t need to be a workaholic to get tenure

Work/life balance

Most assistant professors think that the only way to succeed on the tenure track is by working around the clock. But faculty who use the 80/20 rule know that you can get better results by working smarter, not harder.

Want work-life balance on the tenure track?


Success isn’t just about setting goals. Goals are important, but without a system for achieving them, you’re less likely to succeed.

Want to achieve more on the tenure track? Focus on systems, not goals


There are real cognitive constraints on how much new information students can remember and for how long. Covering a high volume of material at a break-neck pace stacks the deck against knowledge retention by producing learning conditions that favor forgetting.

2 reasons why pre-tenure faculty should downsize their syllabi

In my first two years on the tenure track, I worked all of the time, but usually not on the right things.

I spent way too much time on teaching, and sacrificed my evenings and weekends (and sleep) to research. I didn’t exercise, or pursue hobbies, or make friends, or eat well. I was stressed, and exhausted, and lonely. Plus, I developed a back problem from too many hours hunched over my laptop! Ouch!

I know now that it doesn’t have to be this way. You can earn tenure without working yourself into the ground. Instead of repeating my mistakes, I want to help you learn from them.

Hey, assistant professors. I've been there...

I'm Becca. 

Wasn’t tenure the Holy Grail of academe? I had made it. Why wasn’t I overjoyed?

Tenure and the Arrival Fallacy

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