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Landing a Community College Teaching Job

Philosophy Factory has a great post of advice for those who are seeking a faculty position at a community college.  It is: http://philosophyfacotry.blogspot.com/2008/11/philosophy-jobs-part-two-writing-cover.html

(It’s a follow up to Part 1, which is more of an opinion and overview of CC teaching.)

I wanted to post a link to it because a (relative) fair amount of people surf through here looking for academic job application stuff.  My posts on the subject are mostly relegated to the moaning category − fumes emanating from the horrible stink of what I went through last spring before I decided that the labor relations and the astounding paradoxes lurking within academic hiring practices made academia an industry I was no longer going to sacrifice all other aspects of my life just to stay within.  If you really want to know more about that, go back to January in the archives and read forward.

I do however:

  1. Love community college teaching.
  2. React rather harshly to the snobbery toward community college teaching often espoused among university faculty.  — I’ve been both.  And let me tell you that a whole lot of university students wish their professors valued teaching a little more highly.  You all know what Aristotle said about teaching.
  3. Wish to reiterate that teaching full-time in a community college presents a combination of challenges that many faculty would rather not face.
  4. Want to tell you that I have not had a student in any of the community colleges I’ve taught at that was unlike one or more students I’ve taught in universities, nor vice versa.  However, the percentage of “difficult” students – i.e. those who would rather not be there, who need help becoming psychologically prepared for college (which is altogether different than learning speed or academic preparation) – is often considerably higher than it is in 4-year schools.
  5. That said, there are far less spoiled brats with inflated senses of entitlement in community colleges.  Personally, I’d rather deal with helping late teen/early 20-somethings grow up than try to maintain my patience with the overprivileged set.
  6. In community colleges, I’ve also had a higher percentage of very mature, self motivated students – often older, sometimes going back to school after “screwing up” – who were a joy to teach, than I’ve seen in the big state universities I’ve taught at.
  7. Think that teaching is very emotionally rewarding.  It is so whether you’re a Nobel laureate at an R1 (I imagine) or as an adult literacy volunteer at a community center.  That’s to say that CC teaching is best for those of you who want that emotional reward.
  8. Want to tell you that if unappreciative and unconcerned students drive you over the edge into Rate Your Students territory, you should probably find another profession.
  9. Think you should know that bureaucracy will madden you no matter where you go in higher ed.  Moreover, in all cases, you will be asked to smile through some absolute bullshit at the behest of your institution.
  10. Also want to lay out on the table that when I moved from a 1-year full-time at a big state U to a 1-year full-time at a CC, I got a more than 30% pay raise.

One Response

  1. I completely agree with your list above. I’ve taught at a variety of colleges and universities — and I too find it easier to deal with the ‘why am I here when I could be smoking pot in my parents’ basement’ crowd than the ‘my parents pay your salary, thus I paid for the grade I need to get a job that pays more in a month than you’ll earn in a year’.

    Also — when I was offered my current CC job, I told the SLAC department chair what I’d be making per year. He got pale and said there was no way he could match it for me… I suspect I was starting at what he made mid-career. Of course, I teach about 300 more students per year than he does— so I suppose it makes sense to pay me more.

    Generally, under all the administrative BS, I do see the motivation of helping students achieve — it becomes BS when the propositions don’t actually help… and then when that is pointed out, the students generally win.

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