The Unknown Adjunct

January 23, 2009

For schools, are the odds good, but the goods odd?

Filed under: Job Hunt — unknownadjunct @ 6:40 pm
Tags: , ,

A hat tip to Dean Dad at Confessions of a Community College Dean

I get contradictory signals in the job market (which may be a totally local situation).  I have been adjuncting in another department (I have significant professional experience in the area) while doing my PhD work.  That department asked me last year to apply for one of their two tenure track positions, and I made their “preferred” list but didn’t make the cut to get interviewed — I was beat out by several folks with stellar credentials and PhD in hand from prestigious schools.

That wasn’t unexpected, but what happened this year was … the department asked me to apply again.  Since many of the job searches that I’d applied to have been canceled, I figured, “why bother?” since the competition would be even more intense, and I was still ABD with only more chapters and a conference paper to add to my portfolio.  I told the Chair that I was going to decline because I didn’t want to waste the search committee’s time with a non-competitive application.  The Chair told me that even though they had received many more applications, the quality was worse than previous years.

This reminds me of what a nurse friend of mine said about her social life during a temporary job in Alaska. “The odds are good, but the goods are odd.”

I mentioned this to my PhD Committee Chair, as we were plotting my dissertation endgame, and was told that in their two searches this fall, they had seen the same thing: quantity up and quality down.  Their theory was that it was a generational thing, and that the crop now finishing their PhD’s were ones who started during the economic boom, where competition for grad school slots wasn’t very stiff.

As I said up front, I’m wondering if it just a local thing at EMU, or has anyone else seen the same thing?

When a Workplace Skips a Generation


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