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


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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  1. oops,
    the article stops at

    “I got along very well with the school staff.
    Other administrators know”

    (know what? and then what?)

    where is the rest of the article??

  2. I also disagree with the first comments!!! I have had the pleasure of spending almost two years with Mr. Eldridge. I have learned so many amazing things from him that I will carry with me throughout my career. If even HALF the educators of the world had as much passion and ability to teach that he does, maybe our education system wouldn’t be such a disgrace! While many of you are concerned with your benefits and retirement (as we all are) let’s not take shots at a man for doing what he loves most, and being very good at it! Thanks for all you do Mr. Eldridge. Your students love you for it! As for the new program chair, “she” was also an instructor of mine and will most definitely be just as wonderful as the last!! Keep up the great work!!

  3. Love the feedback. Rosaleee, I didn’t mean to imply that I actually ‘applied’ for the job. I simply looked into it further as more of a courtesy to my boss. Pamela, I agree with your comments. Being an adjunct means that I might have to deal with the possibility that a new department chair will come in and hire all new staff. I accept that as part of the job. As Mike said (probably better than me), I try to leverage my adjunct experience to hopefully avoid it being too much of an issue. Iview my ability to teach at several different schools an asset rather than a negative. As far as health care, I’m covered…essentially for life…through my military benefits. I understand that is a rarity among adjuncts, and I’m fortunate to have it. As far as job security, I agree with Mike. I don’t have time to list the number of people that I know who have lost their full time jobs. It may not be everyone’s dream job, but it works for me. My next blog discusses that more at length. Be well, Randy

  4. I am not sure I agree with the other comments. Adjuncting is a very rewarding career and I completely understand why one would turn down such a position. I hear the need for benefits and retirement, but you can get those as well as an adjunct. It may not be through the traditional channels, but they are available and at reasonable costs. The reality is that many schools are cutting back on the benefits packages and that will continue. Without such, the playing field levels. Job security? No… that is a thing of the past. By leveraging your adjunct positions, you can gain far greater job security and assurances that you will always be employed. I tend to agree with Randy.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Mike. You probably articulated it better than me. I agree 100% with your point about job security…there is no such thing. Frankly, I had rather have several jobs to rely on than one single job. For me, I feel ‘safer’. Thanks again, Randy

  5. Adjunct by choice; Many of us would like to have that choice. I for one would like to have the choice. I love teaching. I would like to have a full time instructors position. I know at this time you may not need or want to teach full time. What about the person that takes your supervisor’s place. Will he or she be so understanding and well liked by students and faculty. Will this individual feel the same way about you as your current supervisor. Will the new chair or program director have the same feelings and dedication to the students and higher education as your current professor. Many times we don’t choose the position but they are created and chosen for us. Before I made my final decision, I would discuss it with your bestfriend and life support, the Mrs. Whatever you choose good luck!

  6. That’s all wonderful – unless/until you have someone else dependent upon you. As long as your current employers keep hiring you and are ABLE to keep hiring you. As long as you have your health.

    There may come a time – *will* come a time – when you are going to need more economic stability than you have now. And when that day comes, your potential employers are going to be looking at your long history of adjuncting and say you don’t have the “right stuff” for a full time job because you stayed an adjunct way too long. AND they are going to KNOW you already turned down FT jobs more than once (these blogs are on the net in perpetuity.) Hiring committees are going to say: why bother interviewing this guy? He’s just going to turn us down. OR – he’s not going to fit because he has no interest in the other aspects of the job that we all have to shoulder ourselves. AND/OR there must be something very expensive looming in his future (such as expensive health care) & that’s why he is applying for FT now.

    It’s wonderful to be dedicated to teaching & to be willing to give up economic security for it. Until it isn’t any more.

    Good luck. You are going to need it.

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