Square Peg in a Round Hole? College Culture Shock

I had an interesting conversation with some colleagues recently. By now, I am used to people thinking I am crazy for trying out more than one institution of higher learning. My explanation is that the culture of every college does not always fit my style. Teaching at some colleges can feel like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Either it is a match or you move on to a better fit.

Let me define what college culture means to me. I’m talking about the mission statement and the policies. I am all about teaching to a diverse student body. Heck, I love to learn from adult students from many cultures. The unique needs older learners have are easy for me to grasp because I am part of that scene as a doctoral student. However, sometimes the college policies are what sour the deal.

This year I found myself clashing with a few college policies. The first being the requirement to call students the first week of class. I felt like a kindergarten teacher as I asked students if they were prepared for the term. Adjuncts have too much on their pre-semester plate to be expected to do this. Then, I was expected to check into my classes seven days a week. When I asked my supervisor about this requirement, after mentioning labor laws, he told me that “checking in” is not working—it’s just checking in. Right.

I am a workaholic, according to my husband and others who know me well, so just “checking in” wasn’t what I ended up doing. As a result, I didn’t take a single a day off for twelve long and draining weeks. 

The best part of being an adjunct by choice is being selective with your contracts. You call the shots as a savvy academic professional. Finding your groove is entirely up to you.

As for me, I am on to new opportunities and blue skies—colleges where I don’t have to “check in” or phone my students the first week of class.

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