The Unvalidated Retirement Quiz

Should you retire sometime in 2016? Gordon Hammerle has developed a quiz to help you determine the answer -- or to at least get a chuckle.


January 4, 2016

It is a new year. It is time to quit rereading those positive student evaluations and rationalizing the negative ones. As you write new syllabi, you may find yourself wondering what it would be like to have this time to yourself. Even good things must come to an end.

Do you keep working until you end? Do you retire at the end of the school year? Should you wait a little longer? Should you have retired years ago?

The decision to retire has to be based on a careful deliberation. It requires the kind of serious thinking you’d find in a 30-question pop psychology test that the author would never even try submitting to any kind of academic journal. There are no easy answers. At least, there have not been until now. This quiz should help you with those decisions. And even if it doesn’t, taking the quiz is no more a waste of time than looking at Facebook.

  1. Do you say, “What is the big deal about this Facebook and tweeting stuff, anyway?”
  2. Do you find students sometimes laugh and you don’t know what they’re laughing at?
  3. Do you complain a lot about how students are lazy or grade grubbing?
  4. Do you feel like your colleagues should have more respect for your experience and wisdom?
  5. Do you feel like you are working longer than you used to … or a lot less?
  6. Are you more tired when you go home than you used to be?
  7. Do you not just hate but really hate going to meetings?
  8. Have your teaching evaluations gotten worse?
  9. Do you dread the start of the new academic year?
  10. Do you feel like there isn’t any point in going to conventions because there isn’t much new happening in your field?
  11. Do you feel you have some really great videos on your VHS tapes?
  12. Do you run back to your office to get things you meant to bring to class?
  13. Was your last publication “kind of a while back”?
  14. Do your class notes show “a new study” crossed out and changed to “a classic study”?
  15. Do you use the words “students” and “damn cellphones” together in a lot of sentences?
  16. Do your notes appear to be on canary paper when you remember them as being on white?
  17. Do you find yourself saying “that one woman in that one department” or “that guy without tenure” when speaking of a colleague?
  18. Do you complain that your students need to speak more loudly or more clearly?
  19. When new ideas are presented in faculty meetings, do you say, “We tried that before. It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now”?
  20. Do you give examples in your class from The Simpsons, M*A*S*H or I Love Lucy?
  21. Do you secretively ask the secretary for help with technology?
  22. Are you prepared to write the word “retired” on forms that list your occupation?
  23. Are you ready to go to a very different line in a survey that asks your income?
  24. Are your shelves lined with books that you haven’t touched in years but you can’t bear to throw out?
  25. Does your college or university offer a retirement gift, like a rocking chair, that you would want to unload on eBay?
  26. Do you experience pain in your brow from rolling your eyes during department meetings?
  27. Do you have to restrain yourself from saying, “Mighty convenient of your grandmother to die during finals week …”?
  28. Do you keep checking the boxes that say “unable to judge” on recommendation forms?
  29. Does the announcement of a faculty workshop lead to any of these thoughts -- “I’m too old for this crap.” “Oh, good God.” “I think I’m going to scream”?
  30. When you took this quiz, did you think of more items that should be on it?

The scoring is easy. Count the number of times you said yes. Add five points if you complained about how small the print looks.

  • If you scored 33-35, you should retire. Now! Have you even heard the phrase “dead wood”? Do you really want to hear your name in a sentence that begins “It’s so sad about …”?
  • If you scored 3-32, that’s tougher. This is a decision that will affect you every day for the rest of your life. Who am I to say what you should do? But one place to start is to answer some more questions. Have you spoken with a financial adviser? Do you have plans for your days in retirement? Is your spouse retired? Do you know how Medicare works?
  • If you scored 0-2, continue to enjoy one of the greatest jobs you can ever have.


Gordon Hammerle is a retired professor of psychology at Adrian College.


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