Am I A Masochist? No! I’m An Adjunct By Choice

You know how the dialogue goes when trying to explain your career path to people outside academia. Oftentimes the thought of working online from the comfort of home is too much for people to comprehend. Then there are those we meet in academia who thumb their noses at being an online adjunct. Perhaps, the latter have pajama envy.

When a new semester is about to roll around, I can be found shopping for new additions to my work wardrobe.  I prefer Eeyore pajamas for my uniform.  However, most importantly I buy for the season. Living in Texas necessitates capri-length bottoms with a tee shirt. While some adjuncts are looking for business-casual clothes, I am shopping the sleepwear section of my favorite store. This is one of the biggest and most desirable benefits of being an adjunct by choice and teaching online.

Of course, piecing together a full-time teaching career is not always an easy task. Compound this with enduring colleague comments of those with full-time jobs outside academia who are just in it for the money, finding a culture where you can thrive might seem impossible. I promise it can be attainable with some experimentation. Be careful not to add colleges to your quiver in the same semester if at all possible.

I have not taken a semester off in over three years.  Summers are my favorite term because I get my pick of classes and there are three weeks less for some colleges.  This summer caught me up in sky-blue enthusiasm.  The powerful rays of the sun made me feel upbeat and motivated.  Last winter I had trained for a few new colleges.  However, no classes were offered until the summer term. I took on a remedial writing class and a creative writing class from two new online colleges. I already had contracts for a creative nonfiction class, a literature class, and two research writing classes at two seasoned institutions. While I can teach these classes in my sleep and often do, I expected that this addition would be a doable goal.

Adding to my hectic summer schedule, I am taking two classes a term in my Ph.D. program. I advised my family to have fun without me. Being a summer sun lover, spending time inside started to drive me a little batty.  Fortunately, online adjuncts can take their office with them and this saved me.  All summer semester, I juggled my classes in one-day increments. My family yanked me away from the computer IV as a reminder that I have other hats to wear.  I made it through with a few scratches and a new perspective.

Plan your additions well in advance if possible. Having a safety net of solicitations is admirable and oftentimes imperative to working full-time as an online adjunct. Nevertheless, remember to be kind to yourself as you incorporate new positions into your repertoire. I may have new colleges to list on my CV, but the cost came with a price. I wear the badge of pajama-wearing, part-time online adjunct with pride.

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