Adjunct Overload

The adjunct life is full of hard choices: Will my semesters of service pay off with an offer for a more secure position? Will my classes pay enough to justify my commute? Will the six nameplates on my cubby-hole/office door flag me for instant student disrespect? In the adjunct world, decisions are precious because they are few. You often live from class offer to class offer, semester to semester, taking what you can get. You apply to lots of colleges hoping that a few will have work for you.

Thus begins an article for Inside Higher Ed by Burnt Out Adjunct.

I don’t recommend teaching ten courses, even if you are not an English comp teacher. That’s just crazy! Of course, I’m feeling a little crazy teaching six courses this fall, so who am I to talk?

Of course, I’ve seen this kind of teaching load before from Jill Carroll. It, and all the related writing, seems to have helped. She’s now teaching full-time at Rice University, a Southern Ivy League equivalent (or wannabe, depending on your viewpoint).

We teach because we want to, but we can’t make a living wage at a normal load, so we teach more. As we teach more we start to make a living wage (though nowhere near as high as mentioned in the comments on the Inside Higher Ed article). Then we can do what we need to, but we are still playing into an abusive system.

I will say this though, it’s an abusive system whether you are teaching one class or twenty.

At CC1 I make $1760/class as opposed to the full-timer’s $5500/class. I don’t get paid health care. They do. I don’t get bookstore discounts. They do. Etc. You get the idea.

If a full-time with a PhD makes $5500/class and a part-timer with a PhD makes $1760/class (as does an MA or, for remedial classes, a BA), there is an inequity. Is inequity bias? abuse? or simply an example of potential failures of capitalism?

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