The Life of a Wannabe Academic

Detail of the life a new academic. The progress from graduate training to professor. Includes reflections on the job hunting process, research in technology and education, and what it is like to be a new college professor.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Twixters in Academia

This past week in my developmental psychology class we have been discussing what it means to be an adult and whether or not they, as college students, would classify themselves as adults. There is a legal definition to be sure (after 18 you are now an adult in the eyes of the court), but how many of us consider your typical 18, 19, or 20 year old to be an adult. Even more interestingly, do they consider themselves to be adults. A casual survey of my classes (mostly junior and sophomores) say that they do not. And personally it took me a long time before I really considered myself as an adult.

More recently there has been a term (or a few terms) to describe what appears to be a stage between adulthood and adolescence. It is not that these college age students consider themselves teens.....they just don't feel like adults yet. This term has been dubbed twixter, or thresholder. People in their early to mid, to even late 20's who do not consider themselves adults and may not act in an adult manner (moving often, changing jobs, not married or in a serious relationship). Time magazine had an article on this not too long ago (,9171,1018089,00.html)

Just this past weekend on another blog that I follow ( people have been debating something similar in terms of junior faculty today. It seems that more often than before junior faculty (those who are not yet tenured, but are on tenure-track) seem to be more likely to be looking to move on to the next big and better thing (be in a job for a year or two and then move on). They do not feel connected to the school they are working in and often view these first few jobs as 'starter schools' to prepare them for the perfect job later on. This sounds similar to how the Time magazine article describes twixters in other occupations.

It is an interesting argument from both sides (why I need to move on from the Jr. Faculty point of view......can't you see how much time and money you are wasting for the college/university from the Sr. Faculty perspective). Just goes to show that academia is not always so separated from what the rest of the business world experiences.


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