image of a side mirror on a car showing the reflection of the side of the car

In the first post of this series, I shared I that I was previously denied tenure. That experience brought on a lot of reflection. But, that’s not the only experience with academic failure that’s spurred reflection. I’ll start with a failure that nearly every academic experiences: publication rejection. Here’s why the topic of reflection is important to rebounding from this particular form of academic rejection.

Reflection on Rejection

As I began my new career as a faculty member, I received would sounded like some winning advice for getting published: when a submission is rejected, send it right back out to another journal before spending much time at all addressing feedback. In fact, this person suggested, send it to three journals before taking the time to really dig in and make changes. That advice sounded awesome, and I quickly put it into practice as submission rejections started rolling in. But wait – how come I wasn’t finding homes for my brilliant written works? Finally, I realized that what I took as a one-size-fits-all approach wasn’t working for me. I also realized, after reflecting, that what she meant was making significant changes. Now my approach after receiving a manuscript rejection is to carefully reflect on any feedback.

Reflection on Job Searching

As I shared in last week’s post, I embarked on a new job search after being denied tenure. As someone in my seventh year as a faculty member with a decently impressive curriculum vita, I was getting responses to job applications. But, I took a more focused approach to this job search. I chose to focus my applications almost entirely on teaching institutions. After a lot of reflecting, I remembered that my entire reason for wanting to be a professor was to teach future student affairs professionals. Research is an important aspect of my identity as a professor, but I didn’t want to be in another situation where my livelihood could hang in the balance based on perceptions of the quality of my scholarship.

Reflection on Tenure

Being denied tenure was one of the worst experiences of my life. In fact, only the death of my brother and then my mom ten years later top it. After a second trip through the tenure process, I am now a tenured associate professor. It’s something how much failure in a job I’ve dreamt of and work toward for so long has prompted so much reflection. I reflect on tenure not as an ending to a hard fight, but a new beginning.

Looking Ahead

As I continue to share my experiences with academic failure, what I hope to convey is that no moment of failure has equated to an ending. Next week I’ll share some thoughts on how I’ve moved to re-evaluation after reflection.