The Adjunct Problem

I know that I’m not supposed to feel this way, but I don’t mind being an adjunct instructor. Really. I honestly don’t mind it at all. In fact, dare I say that I actually enjoy it? I realize, though, that this point of view is somewhat unusual.

Every time I tell someone I’m an adjunct, especially tenured or tenure-track faculty, I usually get a look of pity and a little somber “oh” in response. They will lament the number of hours I’m working, the amount of pay I am making, and my position (or lack thereof) in the department. The only good thing about being an adjunct, or so they tell me, is the lack of meetings adjuncts are required to attend.

Quite frankly, I have to disagree. Do I wish I had benefits through my employer? Sure. Do I want the stability of a full-time position? Of course. Do I wish I was being paid more to teach less? Absolutely. Who wouldn’t want that? But do I think I teach too much or get paid too little? Not really. Not if I’m being honest. Compared to my position as a teaching assistant, being an adjunct is pretty much living the dream.

Don’t get me wrong…I loved my time as a graduate teaching assistant. If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, that should be blatantly apparent. But even I can admit that it was hard. It was hard to design courses and teach them without any prior experience. It was hard to balance teaching two courses with taking three courses of my own. It was hard to prioritize between lesson planning, grading, studying, and completing homework while still trying to maintain some semblance of a social life.

So, to me, being an adjunct is a reprieve. Yes, I am teaching anywhere from 4 to 6 classes at a time, but I do not have any of my own coursework to compete with. Other than Mondays and Wednesdays this semester when I teach several classes back-to-back, I do not have long grueling hours on campus that stretch well into the evening. I am not as strictly managed in terms of what I teach and how I teach it. I’m getting the experience of teaching multiple courses at multiple schools. And I’m going to end this year making a lot more money than what I made in a year as a TA. It doesn’t hurt that two of my friends, my uncle, and my boyfriend have all since been hired at the school where I teach the majority of my courses. It doesn’t hurt one bit.

Do I have my sights set on securing a full-time position? Absolutely. But am I content as an adjunct in the meantime? You betcha.