SUNY Retiree Service Corps - Connecting with our retirees through service.
Joe Sprague

Joe Sprague - Personal Retirement Story

Test driving retirement by going part-time

Go cold turkey and just retire, or ease into retirement by going part-time for awhile?  Both seem to offer their own advantages and disadvantages, but I chose to ease in.  I chose part-time for a few years.  The disadvantage was a part-time salary; compared to no salary, though, not a big deal.  The advantage was to continue working with my colleagues, who, because we are a rather small campus, are also my dear friends.  And just as important, I would stay in the classroom and continue to interact with my students.  So why retire?

retirement storyFirst of all, retirement is not about dropping out of life.  Pre-retirement seminars and readings stress the need to find rewarding and meaningful retirement activities.  You really need to do something.  This makes sense since college professors are just too driven to idle away the retirement years.  Many of my retired colleagues are deeply involved in non-profit organizations and community service.  Well, for over three decades teaching has been my life, absolutely oozing with reward and meaning.  So I've chosen to continue teaching but at a semi-retired schedule.  I am now down to two classes per semester, a pace that allows more time to do those things that I just couldn't squeeze in with a 15 hour teaching schedule.  And what are those things?  You might guess golf, hiking, travel and all the other usual golden age stuff.  But no, in what surprised even me, I jumped into activities at the college that normally competed for what little time I had available as a full-time faculty.  I joined the assessment taskforce at the college.  I joined our steering committee for Middle States accreditation.  I dramatically increased my efforts at curriculum development.  Sounds crazy?  These are assignments I would normally have been involved in as a full-time faculty but would have dreaded.  How could I find the time to do them?  Turns out that being semi-retired allows more time to actually get involved in these non-classroom efforts.  You don't have to struggle to squeeze them into the gaps between classes.  You can actually enjoy the work.  I never thought I'd use the words "enjoy" and "assessment" in the same paragraph, but I have and I do.  At the same time I excused myself from normal governance committee work and chose not to be involved in department and school decisions, reasoning that their future was not my future.

As a result, I no longer worry about the day to day concerns like the budget, the schedule, recruiting, etc., and no longer feel the pressure of a busy teaching schedule.  Instead, I actually have the time to enjoy the creativity and energy I can bring to my new non-teaching assignments and my reduced teaching assignment.  For me, part-time retirement is my answer to the great retirement question: what am I going to do?  As an added bonus, with such a loose schedule, I have the freedom, on a snowy winter weekday, to go XC-skiing.

Retirees Service Corps