Adjunct By Choice: From Adjunct to Full-Time? Maybe. Or Not.

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By Randy Eldridge

If any of you have read any of my previous blogs, you’re familiar with Dr. Abbott. He’s my department chair and a great guy. In fact, he’s really one of the best people that I’ve worked for, both in and out of the education field. How he does his job, however, is sometimes a mystery to me.

Dr. Abbott has been at the primary school that I teach at for a few years now. He’s well liked by staff students alike.  He’s an adjunct instructor’s ideal supervisor. He treats everyone as a professional and trusts us to do our job. He is respectful and polite, and most of all, he brings out the best in people. Unfortunately, he also happens to be reaching the “burnout” phase in his current position.

How do I know this you ask? Easy. He called me into his office and told me that after summer quarter he was leaving. He told me this in confidence and asked me to not tell other instructors. The reason he was telling me this and no one else was because he was recommending me for the job. I was honored that he thought enough of my and my abilities to that he would recommend me for the position. I also had some trepidation.

Sure, there are times when the thought of having a full-time position is very appealing to me. A regular salary, benefits, paid time off are things we all want. Well, most of us. Unless you happen to be one of the adjuncts by choice like me.

I thought about what Dr. Abbott and I had discussed. I knew that I could do the job. I had a great relationship with the students. I got along very well with the school staff. Other administrators know me and I have a great working relationship with all of them. I could easily do his job. I would do well at it and do things that would benefit the school I could do his job. Wanting to is an entirely different story.

I love teaching. I love being just that. A teacher. Being an administrator is not something that appeals to me. Despite whatever job security and benefits it may bring. I know a lot of adjuncts complain about the downside of being an adjunct. I understand their complaints. I get it. Issues such as pay, lack of benefits, working at home, respect, no free time etc., are all things that those us not on staff somewhere have all experienced.

To me, the benefits outweigh any negatives associated with being an adjunct by choice. It’s obvious I feel that way. I write a blog about it! I love the fact that I get to use my experience and education everyday when I teach. I enjoy watching students progress and expand their knowledge in the field of criminal justice. I like the fact that every once in awhile, I’m actually able to make a difference in someone’s life. All those other negative things don’t really bother me.

What I don’t enjoy is paperwork. And meetings. And sitting in an office 12 hours a day. Most of all, I don’t enjoy not teaching. The thought of it horrifies me! I would feel trapped. I would feel locked up. I would be miserable.

I decided I needed more input into this decision. I had had to speak with my boss. Her name is Mrs. Eldridge. My wife is my best friend. She’s also a saint. The poor woman lives with me afterall. We discussed the possibility of me taking a full time job at length. It is a serious decision. Things would change dramatically. We weighed the pros and cons of it. On the plus side, I would make more money. I would have extra insurance. I would paid time off. On the down side, I would probably work at least 50 hours a week. I would also spend less time with my wife and daughter. Oh yeah, and I would be entirely miserable and probably end up getting fired. “Ok” we decided, “turn it down.”

The next day at work, I spoke with Dr. Abbott. I informed him of my decision and he completely understood. He told me he thought that I might feel the way I did, but knew that I’d be great for the job. I was appreciative of his confidence in me. However, looking inward, I knew that there was only one way it would turn out. Badly.

I know some people that think I’m crazy for being an adjunct by choice. To them, the uncertainty and constant chage is too much. Not for me. I thrive on it. I enjoy it. Sure, I could do Dr. Abbott’s job. I would be successful. At first. But soon, the boredom and monotony would set in. My professionalism would start to crack. Soon, knowing myself as I do, I would say or do something stupid and end up unemployed.

No, I think I’ll just continue working as an adjunct by choice and keep my job.

About the Adjunct By Choice: Randy Eldridge is an adjunct instructor and tutor. He teaches criminal justice courses leading to Associate’s and Bachelor’s Degrees. He earned a B.A. in Political Science from Capital University and an M.S. in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati. Prior to entering the world of teaching, he worked as an Adult Probation officer for Butler County in Ohio. He is a U.S. Army and Desert Storm Veteran, serving four years on active duty. When he is not teaching, he enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter. He’s currently debating whether or not to pursue his Ph.D.[/private]

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