The following are reflective testimonials from Adjuncts in the United States. Due to privacy concerns and fear of retaliation from employers, names and other identifying information have been removed.
If you would like to contribute your own story, please share it in the comment box below. If you would like to contact KYCFA to participate in our national survey, please use the KYCFA contact form.
Adjunct, Louisville, KY:
This is my 13th year as an Adjunct in the Louisville area. I’ve taught community college students, prison inmates, and private university students. I’ve had anywhere from 10-120 students per semester. I’ve taught at 1-3 campuses per semester. The pay is abysmal. With four classes, I take home $767 average twice monthly. When I taught one class, I got $120 or so twice a month. I’ve just about wiped out my retirement from the full time job I had 15 years just in the 6 months I’ve returned to Adjuncting.
I am on Medicaid, and am probably eligible for more thing than just that. I’m grateful for the Affordable Care Act because I couldn’t have gone back to school and be Adjuncting without it. Savings is laughable. I can’t even eek by, much less have savings. Retirement is depleted—or just about. There’s no way I can save for it. I just hope when I have my PhD I’ll not be an Adjunct!
Adjunct, Writer, Mother of 1:
As an Adjunct all over the northeast, I’ve taught various journalism courses. It’s hard to say how much time I spent grading/planning. Both took longer in the beginning, before I started using rubrics and when I was planning courses from scratch. A rough estimate is maybe 2-3 hours planning each class session. It takes me about 10-15 minutes to grade each student story/paper, so the time spent grading depends on how many stories assigned each semester (usually 4-10 depending on the class) and how many students were in the class. The biggest hurdle as an Adjunct has been the pay. It’s depressing to think about my hourly rate as an Adjunct. A (very) rough estimate tells me that my hourly rate as an Adjunct is about one-third of my hourly rate as a freelancer. (Sometimes I think I might be losing money by being an Adjunct instead of devoting that time to more lucrative freelance work!) I’d love to spend more time on all aspects of my classes (planning, grading, meeting with students, etc.), but I can’t afford to do it because the pay is so low.
Former Adjunct, New Jersey:
The most rewarding experience for me as an Adjunct was seeing my students respond to the literature that I had assigned; the biggest hurdle was the lack on consistent employment. One semester I might have several offers, but another I might have none. One community college in particular had promised me three courses for the Spring of 2013, but accidentally double assigned the same classes and I, lacking seniority, was out of luck, a week before the semester began.
As an Adjunct I felt like I lived out of a suitcase and that I didn’t know anyone. I think that Adjuncts would benefit from more community connection and having access to office space. Additionally, I believe that some sort of contracted stability would be beneficial. Knowing that if you accept a job in the Fall semester, that you should also have one in the Spring.
Adjunct, New Jersey:
I have worked as a lecturer for about eight months, teaching first-year writing in New Jersey and Philadelphia. When I taught four courses, I made about $2000 a month. But I have not had health insurance in almost a year (pats self on back). I still panic at random moments that a car will careen off the road and hit me. At this point, I will only make about $1200 a month until May. I am considering applying to substitute teach because I am underemployed right now. The NAWD should make the numbers of Adjuncts who teach college courses – and get paid the tuition amount of one student – more visible.
I really enjoy leading my students in classroom discussion and encouraging them to think more carefully about the world, literature, and art. Their enthusiasm is the most rewarding part of my job, but the inconsistency in employment is a big problem. I can never expect to be employed the next semester and have to keep applying for jobs.
H.W.M., Adjunct, Michigan:
I worked as an Adjunct instructor for three years in Michigan, teaching multiple sections of reading and writing courses. My first year, I didn’t supplement my income, and I went into credit card debt. By year two, I worked thirty hours per week, waiting tables in a Chinese restaurant. I had to wait on a few students. They seemed alarmed, like maybe I had been fired from the college. In my third year, I devoted 50 hours per week at a larger, public institution as a tutor for student athletes. I got paid for 30 hours per week at this job. There were gaps of hours between appointments.
As an Adjunct I only made $32 per in class hour. For two three-credit courses, I made about $750 per month.