Monday, January 21, 2008

Want to be an Academic?

Getting a tenure track job in this market is tough, and despite today's wave of students pouring through the doors, it's going to get tougher. Boomer-era professors are hanging onto their positions and administrations increasingly prefer to hire lower paid adjuncts over full time (and well benefited) tenure track professors, which is all the more reason for me to appreciate the position that I have.

To illustrate, here's a recent Washington Post article that provides some fairly typical accounts. Ignore the sales pitch for the "placement agency" and read on:

Dreams of Academe? First, a Course in Reality


Carol said...

Speaking from an adjunct's perspective, it's frustrating! Very frustrating. Especially when you work for 2 or 3 different college systems and all of them have leaps and bounds more adjuncts than they do full time instructors. As an example, a Community College I work for has 2 full time instructors in the department and about 30 adjuncts. Of course if you want to do the thing you love, instructing, you have to settle. Another college in the area has opened up 1 position for a full time instructor. Hundreds of applications will stream in over the next month, only a few will be interviewed, and one will be hired. It's a sad situation to say the least.

Andrew Wood said...

Carol, I appreciate your comments. You raise a serious issue about colleges and universities who hire such a high percentage of adjuncts (some of which teach as many classes - or more - as "full timers"). I have no doubt that adjunct instructors are almost always qualified and dedicated (I certainly know that you are), but adjuncts only have so much time for their students when the next class may be at another school. Sure, maintaining a huge class of adjunct instructors may be easy on a university's budget, but it's hard on human beings - teachers and students both.

Carol said...

I agree. It is hard on both students and instructors. I, for one, spend quite a bit of time with my students answering questions, having meetings and such, but because I work at different places, I have to do a lot of it online. So, I spend more time online answering emails and chatting than my 'office hours' require. This coming semester I will be holding scheduled online office hours, something I have never done before, so I can avoid checking my email 10-15 times a day (which has been pretty typical for me in the past, so I can be accessible to students since I am driving all over the place). This semester is going to be challenging because I am going to be near home 2 days a week teaching, then driving 3 hours each way to the Bay Area to teach a couple of classes. Finding the time for my students is going to be challenging this semester.