I want to be a professor. Am I crazy?

Sophie Wilson sophiewi at uoguelph.ca
Thu Oct 12 15:46:30 EST 1995


Despite my sensationalizing subject tagline, I assure you that this is a 
serious question.  Responses would be appreciated...

I'm 31.  I've been working as a journalist in Canada since 1990.  Over 
that time I've discovered that (as my mum says) journalism doesn't have 
the level of "integrity of inquiry" that I crave.  I like journalism 
because it 
allows me to follow my curiosity... but it never allows me to follow it 
far enough.  

I've also found that I'm particularly interested in 
health/biology/psychology stories.  

I have been working for an organization (the CBC for those in Canada) 
that's in a financial crisis.  This helped me decide it was time to 
seriously rethink where I'm going.

Last year I took a night course in psychology.  (First year, intro.)  I 
loved it.  I got 91%.  

Then I did several aptitude and interest tests with a career counsellor.  
The results indicated that I might be happiest - with a graduate degree, 
and working as a college professor (!) in a social science or health 
science field.  

I like teaching.  I like helping.  I like thinking and 
analysing and writing ... so this made sense.  It fit.  (My dad's a 
professor too.)  This year I took a deep breath 
and came back to university.  I'm taking first year science courses.

Guess what?  I LOVE it.  I can't get enough.  I want to do this forever.  
Learning is great!

(I could throttle that grade 12 science teacher who turned me off science 
in the first place.  Why did I let him influence me so much?  AARgh.)

Yet.. I'm 31.  My partner and I want to start having children.  Prospects 
for universities in Canada look grim -- all seem to be hiring less 
people, and hiring them as sessionals instead of tenure-track profs.

I've spoken to several professors on campus about this.  They generally 
say that yes, things ARE grim, and I should be REALLY SURE I want to do 
this...

So.  I'm seeking further opinions.  I'd love to hear from any of you --- 
as a group you seem to have some insightful perspectives.

Is it reasonable to come back to university in this "day and age" with 
the goal of becoming a professor?  

What if I'm 31 instead of 21?  (38ish by the time I have a Ph. D. in 
hand) Will that make a difference in terms of hiring?

Are some subjects safer bets for future jobs than others?  
(RIght now I'm considering psychology, nutrition, and biology.)

How would you recommend I get more information about this?  What factors 
do you think I should research before making a decision?

Again - I'd appreciate any and every insight - via newsgroup or EMail.  I 
don't want to get this wrong!

Thank you.  Much.






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