10 Things All Assistant Professors Should Know

By William Tierney, USC School Of Education

I got my PhD in 1984.  During that time I’ve done research on students, faculty, and administrators.  I’ have seen different individuals and groups as ‘research subjects’ as students, colleagues, and as friends.  I’ve developed some thoughts I’d like to share based on my research, my observations, and common sense.  By no means is this everything someone should know.  Think about what else should be added and let me know.

Decide if you are going to write articles from your dissertation or publish it as a book.  Don’t do both.Only publish in tier one outlets; the stream of online publishers that will publish anything today does not indicate quality.

Size does not matter:  “I have published 34 articles” tells me nothing.

Size does matter:  “I’m still working on revising my dissertation” is cause for concern if you’ve started your second year.

Ideas matter:  People need to know what you do.  Ask a senior colleague who you trust, “What do I do?”  If he/she can say no more than “You do work on schools,” or “You do qualitative work” then you’ve got a problem.

Save the maximum amount you can for retirement.  Take advantage of every dime the institution will put in for you; every nickel matters.

Build in time every day, week, and semester to enjoy your family and friends.  Do not work all the time.  If you don’t schedule it, it probably won’t happen.

You’re not a grad student any more so socializing with grad students is likely to cause you a problem.

Speak your mind.  If you think you are going to hide until you have tenure and then speak up is a recipe for never speaking up.  If senior faculty and administrators don’t want to listen to your ideas then that place is probably not the place for you (or me).

Find someone you can trust to ask for advice and lean on from time to time.


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