The Unknown Adjunct

June 25, 2009

Academic Piecework

Filed under: Academics,Job Hunt,Perspective,Status,teaching — unknownadjunct @ 1:07 am
Tags: , ,

As I mentioned yesterday, quite a bit has changed since early May. In the proud tradition of the new academic realities, I don’t have a job — I have two.

After accumulating a wall-full of rejection letters (and not even a peep from my spring applications), things broke open in a big and unexpected way. Three days after my successful dissertation defense, my department chair (who had studiously ignored me during my student time) called me into his office. I expected a kiss-off and “good luck with that” kind of talk, but instead he offered me a job. I did my best imitation of a gaping fish before accepting (like I had any other choice — I’m too young to be a Wal-mart greeter).

Not that it was a good job or anything like that. One of the real faculty members had just gotten a temporary position and, after divvying up the remaining responsibilities, two intro classes still needed to be covered. So I get the job as a Lecturer (that’s an adjunct with benefits) with a 2/2 load and pay at the same pay scale per class as a graduate teaching assistant.

Did I mention intro classes? I really got the prize — these are frickin’ huge sections. Like, humongous, as in needing to be taught in the stadium.

Well, not quite that big — but I will say that my student load exceeds the total student population of many liberal arts colleges. I did the math: it was depressing. It works out to something less than $20 per student per semester. But nowadays, a job is a job.

As you might guess, that didn’t make the vig, so I had to piece together something else. Again, it just dropped into my lap. I ran into a friend from my former life, who mentioned that he was adjuncting for a distance-learning program for a certain government agency. I pressed him for more details, and he gave me a name. Lo and behold, they also needed some guest help. So now I also have an online adjunct position.

Between the two, it gets me somewhere north of the poverty line. All things considered, I’m thankful to get that much in today’s environment.


1 Comment »

  1. When I was an adjunct I taught five polisci courses between two colleges and barely made my bills, and this was in rural northern California where rents were cheap.

    Congrats on getting jobs that will put food on your table.

    Comment by John Soares — June 25, 2009 @ 2:39 pm | Reply

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