I’ve seen a lot of posts here about adjuncts. I’m one, alas, and I wish to suggest that we consider the different types of adjuncts, a typology of freeway fliers, if you will.
- The Newbies: ABD or the ink is still wet on their Ph.D. Trying to get their foot in the door. How can someone so young look so tired and hopeless?
- The Hopeless: Have been adjuncts or on one-year contracts for a long time and likely to remain on that track. In all honesty, they’re not good enough to get that full time slot. Something is lacking. Maybe it’s teaching skills, writing ability, or maybe they just lack intellectual horsepower. Probably shouldn’t have been allowed to finish their degree.
- The Hobbyists: Have a full time job elsewhere or maybe they’re retired, but they like teaching and want a little pocket money.
- The Second-Careerists: They got the degree but then worked outside academia in the “real world.” However, they never lost the desire to get back into those ivy-covered halls. Then something happened. Maybe the spouse moved the family to a new city, the old job disappeared, or the midlife crisis hit. Now they’re back competing with people half their age trying to get their foot in the door. Tied to their current location by family, they can’t just move anywhere for a position so they interview at local schools and realize that the selection committee chair is younger than they are. Their paychecks are less than the bonuses they received on their old job. They now use an adjunct office that’s smaller than their old cubicle and they share it with other people. That person is me, and on behalf of my second-career brethren may I just say WHAT THE ^&%$# HAVE I DONE!?!?!!