Monthly Archives: September 2015

Ten Words Faculty Brats Grew Up Knowing

Children of faculty grow up learning some very distinctive vocabulary.  Here are 10 words I learned through osmosis as a kid because of my mother’s job as a college professor– and what they meant to me at the time.

  1. Campus: Where Mom goes to work. I can’t remember ever not knowing the word “campus.”
  2.  The Dean: Somebody very important but often vexing and bossy.
  3. Tenure: Something you “get” after a lot of stress and arguing. My mom got tenure when I was about 5 and explained to me that “tenure” meant she couldn’t be fired. Then she had to explain what “fired” meant.
  4. The Department Chair: I was 6 when I learned this was a person, not a communal piece of furniture.
  5. Semester/ Trimester/ Term: Kind of like a season, but shorter and marked by flurries of intense grading.
  6. Advisee: Similar to a student except more lost, disorganized, chronically late. 
  7. Performing Arts Center: Where you take dance classes sometimes and see musicians, plays, and strange blob sculptures that are called “student art.”
  8. Conference: “Mom’s away at a conference again. Time to go see Terminator 2 without her!”
  9. PhD: If your mom is a doctor, but not that kind of doctor, she has a PhD. 
  10. Sabbatical: That year you moved to India or Boston or Alaska for “research,” Mom didn’t teach any classes, and your parents were so excited and happy.



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