Friday, January 11, 2013

It's an adjuncting life for me (?)

Well, another term has started and I have been assigned a class to teach.  Now, I wait and see if I have enough students enrolled and whether the class will actually take place ...

All adjuncts will find this period of limbo familiar. Approximately 1-2 weeks before a semester/term/quarter starts, those in the 'adjunct pool' at every university/college and in every field begin waiting around (very hopefully) that they will be one of the lucky ones chosen to teach a class. Maybe even 2 or 3! (3 is usually the most that one adjunct is permitted to teach at a each university, but, to make full-time pay, you usually need to teach at least 5, so many of us have our hats in multiple 'adjunct pools' and are loathe to turn down a job, even if we are already overextended, because (a) we need the money, (b) we need the experience to keep our CVs relevant, and (c) we are hoping that one of these schools remembers what a team player we are and brings us on as full-time faculty sooner rather than later.)

The last hope is, of course, a pipe dream for many of us as over the past 2 generations/40 years, adjuncting has largely replaced full-time and tenured track faculty positions. (Read more here, here, and here.) Of course, this shift toward part-time/no benefits works is not limited to academia (see: any article ever on Walmart), although there are companies that prove that one can give benefits to part-time workers, while still turning a profit (see: Costco, Lowes, Starbucks).

Many of us in the academic field hold out the hope that a community college or maybe really small liberal arts college in the middle of nowhere will want us, but it probably isn't realistic. [To say nothing of those that hope to land a cushy job at a research institute, especially right out of grad school. While it can happen, this expectation is right up there with kids who graduate college with a business degree and don't understand why they aren't the CEO of Sony in 6 months. It isn't going to happen and the majority of us know that.]

Anyway, while for now adjuncting, especially online, is ideal for bringing in some extra income, it is not income that can be counted on as there is no assurance that I will have a job next week, let alone next term. I love teaching. A lot. And I've looked into becoming a high school teacher once I'm done and I may do that (not that there are many open history teacher positions as I hear time and time again), so the question becomes: what is my Plan B?


  1. This is something I'm asking myself constantly. What is Plan B? I don't think it's pessimism at all. It's reality.

    I've read articles about what people do after the PhD who don't go into academia. But those jobs also seem somewhat hard to get? Like publishing and administrative work?

    At this point, I'm open to anything. I'm waiting to hear from a community college as well (for one measly class). But the waiting and uncertainty has made me go look on Craig's List for other job opportunities...because why not? Tutoring, teaching ESL...they're all possibilities right now.

    Right now my main job is taking care of my little sister's education (making sure she practices violin, helping her organize her time, assisting her with HW...the usual). It's about 3-5 hours per day. I think it's understood that I take care of my sister and my tuition gets paid. I will take that deal.

    1. I know, the question of long-term sustainability is a big one I toy with constantly. I'm putting up my list of ideas on Friday. We'll see where it goes ...

  2. The obvious answer is you write a book with me.