I’ve been stumbling upon some great reasons to be an adjunct instructor lately. I think, now more than ever, that it’s a viable makeshift career path that can leave teachers with options and flexibility. Here’s why:
1.You have leverage.
When you’re finally offered that full-time job, I encourage you to ask if you can keep working for at least one other school, potentially doubling your full-time salary. Typically you’re not permitted to work for other schools once you’ve accepted a full-time teaching opportunity and signed the contract. However, if the administration knows you have great connections and great pay elsewhere, they could be willing to negotiate and write it into the contract. For instance, I had been offered a full-time job at a university I loved, but I also had a fantastic adjunct gig working online and also making full-time pay. Because I had been strategic and reliable as an adjunct, I had the opportunity to make double the full-time salary they were offering.
2. You can prevent burnout and repetition by avoiding “the routine.”
I actually love having routines and structure in my life, but after having the same 8:30 am to 12:30 pm schedule for almost 3 years, I realized I didn’t want that much structure. I didn’t want to go to the same campus, at the same time, to teach the same classes repeatedly. I missed discovering new campuses, teaching new courses, and the anticipation of not knowing exactly what my schedule would be from semester to semester. Once I realized that, I took a hiatus from going to the same campus 3 mornings a week and opted to focus on my online classes, bask in some late mornings reading on my couch, and I decided to teach a new course with new material one night a week for a different college. It was absolutely refreshing, and also essential to keep me from burning out.
3. You have permission to explore your options.
I enjoy stability, but too much security makes me feel trapped, which is why I enjoy life as an adjunct. If one school becomes more demanding of you, or insists that you teach courses you’re not passionate anymore, become more committed to a different school and take a break from the one that’s smothering you. Maybe I’m a commitment-phobe, but I enjoy the autonomy and freedom that being an adjunct brings, and if a school wants to treat me life full-time staff, it’s incredibly flattering, but that’s not necessarily what I’m getting paid to do or why I’m there. I like to go where the opportunities for growth are- whether in online teaching options or in schedule flexibility- so when I’m not seeing that, it’s time to move on (another lesson in why it’s important to continually shop around for schools to see what gets you excited).
For those of you living in the adjunct world, add these advantages to your list of why it may not be so bad being a part-timer after all.