Jun 21st 2014 by 20kadjunct • 27 Questions • 1871 Points
In response to this popular post, I am doing this AMA about college adjunct labor. As I say in my title, I taught six course sections over this past school year--five different courses in all--and made less than $20,000.
Proof has been sent to the mods.
Edit: OK, this has been fun and garnered much more attention than I could have ever imagined, but I've got to get to bed. So it's goodbye for now. Thanks for the discussion!
How attractive are cash bribes given your financial situation?
Hahaha! Well, I've never been offered one, and I've felt very uneasy about even accepting thank you gifts from students--like a $10 coffee shop gift card--after the semester is over. So I'd say that based on my system of values, I will never accept one.
As a student is there anything I can do to express my appreciation that ever won't be creepy? When I graduate there are a lot of professors I'd like to thank, but I don't want it to be weird.
There are plenty of ways. Say thanks in person, or write a card or an email. Writing a favorable evaluation or a good RateMyProfessor review is one thing, but saying it directly to us is much more meaningful. A couple have asked if it was OK to give me a hug before they left, and I was totally OK with that.
I am also an Adjunct at a major university. It's not at all my primary job, I do it for the pleasure of teaching. What is your thoughts on the fact that your "competition" may often be folks like me?
I wrote a good bit about my own experience as an adjunct professor, if you're interested.
I've never thought of any other adjunct as competition and I think it's great that there are people who want to adjunct for the pleasure of teaching. There should be better compensation and greater job security for all adjuncts, not just the ones who make it their primary job.
What subject do you teach? Do you work in research outside the university, do any consulting, etc?
I teach a language and its literature, really two different types of courses. I am also a full-time PhD student (unfunded) and have two other jobs on the side to get by.
Yeah, from what I've read when applying for graduate schools, an offer for an unfunded position is like a polite rejection. They're saying that you're good enough to get in, but there's not enough money for you. You get to say that you got accepted to School X, but they don't actually expect you to attend, and if you do, free money!
Actually, my tuition has always been covered, and my school, until recently accepted many students as unfunded, many in the same cohort as funded students. We are just as successful as the other members of our cohorts, so it does make you think twice about who the admissions committees value. It also begs the question about opportunities for funding at other stages in a graduate career.
Isn't being an adjunct professor without a PhD a bit unusual? I taught courses while I was a PhD student, for which I got squat, at the same time I was a research assistant. But at least it was helping to build experience and my resume.
I am not an adjunct professor. I am an adjunct lecturer. There's a difference in pay and, for the most part, qualifications. But the courses are truly mine. I am not a teaching or research assistant.
12-15 an hour with tuition vouchers is really great in todays job market, especially if you're doing something you love. being able to subsist while enjoying your work and life is a very respectable and fulfilling way to live. your passion is evident and the students and university are lucky to have you.
your passion is evident and the students and university are lucky to have you.
You should not do an unfunded PhD--no one should. Sorry, but you're paying to do a job.
Actually, I suppose that unfunded is the wrong word, as other commenters pointed out. My tuition is covered by the university.
How did you end up with this position rather than a tenure-track one?
I have not yet completed my PhD, so I am not eligible for a tenure-track professorship. I suppose it's the dream that one day I will hopefully achieve.
I live in a large and very expensive metropolitan area so it's definitely a struggle. I'm lucky enough to have a partner with a job and together we can pay our rent on a one-bedroom apartment, pay our bills, and buy our food and some wine. I couldn't do it without him, though, and all the support he has offered me over the years.
What is your degree in?
What do you want to do with the degree when you finish?
What can you do with a doctorate in your field that isn't academia?
I have a BA in Education and my subject (a language) and an MA in the subject.
My goal is to be teaching as a professor when I'm done. I like teaching the language courses and I LOVE teaching the literature.
Teaching is the most obvious career path in my field, but working at archives or a cultural institution might be possibilities.
Oh, goodness. Well, my favorites are always the students who think that they can get away with using Google Translate or something similar to write essays on their homework and they will say something like "I wore a tie" but the word they use for tie will be the word that actually means railroad tie, or a tie in sports, or family bonds, all things that I've seen before. Moral of the story: Use a good dictionary and don't accept the first word that pops up in Google Translate. WE. ALWAYS. KNOW!
Edit: I actually thought of a better one. A day or two before an exam, a student once asked if I could push the test back to the following week for all students because this one particular person was pretty busy with other things.
Have you read In the Basement of the Ivory Tower, by Professor X? If so, what did you think of it?
No. Should I be adding this to my reading list?
My experience is from undergrad and grad school in science. TA assists the professor. The TA does some teaching (with small groups of students in tutorials and/or in labs) and grading while the professor is supposed to plan the course and do the main lectures. I assume in the OP's case they are the one planning and running the course in which case I think they should be entitled to more money than a TA.
That's a great question. TAs are generally not the overall supervisors of their own classes. They follow a syllabus set by the supervising professor, grade work or tests assigned by the professor, etc. Adjuncts, on the other hand, are wholly responsible for the course, its planning, and carrying out the plans.
Do you plan on switching jobs ever? Was this your dream job as a child, and is it your dream job now?
My dream job as a child was musical theater. Teaching a language, really, is part acting.
Now, being a professor is my dream job and something I will pursue once I defend my dissertation.
Have you ever thought of going to the dark side (administration) and teaching on the side? I confess... it's what I did. I teach much less than I would like, work a solid 12 months, 8 hour + days and teach on the side. Of course with a PhD you're going to be in a better boat. Good luck!
Thanks! I don't think administration is my thing, even with a side dish of teaching. The solution to the adjunct labor crisis is to pay adjunct faculty better, not to lose us to (economically) greener pastures.
Do you get other benefits? Like i know a lot of the graduate students at my college who do adjunct get cheaper tuition and such.
My tuition is covered for the moment and I also get health insurance.
Do you really feel you deserve to make significantly more? If so, what's your reasoning?
I really do. I have an MA in my subject (my BA was in the subject as well as in education) and I have completed all the coursework towards my PhD, but have not yet finished my dissertation. My reviews from students as well as official department observations for my teaching have all been excellent. I make less than $3k per course. I'd like to think that my time, experience, and expertise warrants more fair compensation.
Look into online teaching, which pays as well or better and requires much less prep time. I'm not saying abandon this, just consider picking that up on the side.
Thanks, but I'm definitely more interested in face-to-face interactions with my students. They are much more impactful and helpful, especially in and language class.