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Adjunct faculty while a phd student?

  1. Aug 9, 2011 #1

    Pengwuino

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    So when I enter my phd program next year, I'm going to be probably doing the usual 3 classes per semester for the first year thing. However, due to my department not.... well, having any TA positions, I won't have a TAship for the first year :P. Is it crazy to try to get an adjunct position at a CC or something and take 1 or 2 courses for some extra money?

    Would it affect my phd work too much, even for the 1st year? Is this done much? I will have my MS so I know I qualify for the positions.
     
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  3. Aug 9, 2011 #2

    Choppy

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    I got a job teaching labs at a local community college for a year towards the end of my PhD when I found out I wouldn't be teaching labs at my university that year. It was a good experience - a decent amount of pay and approximately the same workload that I'd been used to up until that point.

    You just have to be very conscious of the amount of time you're realistically going to be devoting to the position. In my case, I was teaching labs I was already very familiar with, so I didn't have to put much time into preparing for them. However, if it's your first time lecturing, for example, you'll probably spend a LOT of time preparing each lecture. I think even that could be done, but it depends on the kind of person you are, how much you would enjoy the work, and how much time you need to devote to your coursework.
     
  4. Aug 9, 2011 #3
    Actually, during the last year of my PhD, a few of the smaller colleges in our town were looking for adjuncts and specifically targeted our PhD program. One of my fellow grad students took the job and he seemed to enjoy it very much. He said the workload was similar to what he was doing before for our school.
     
  5. Aug 9, 2011 #4

    jtbell

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    Besides physics, you might also be able to teach lower-level math courses at a CC. When I was in grad school (physics), one of my fellow grad students did that regularly, and I did it a couple of times myself (intermediate algebra and calculus II, as I recall). They have a lot more math classes to cover than physics classes.
     
  6. Aug 9, 2011 #5

    eri

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    Most adjunct positions require a masters degree or at least 16 credits of graduate work in the field you plan to teach. Even as a new PhD student, you still only have a bachelors degree and in most cases that doesn't qualify you to teach college, even as an adjunct. Many students in my program worked as adjuncts while finishing up (I was constantly traveling for my research so I couldn't) but none of them got a job before finishing them masters, since local programs required it.
     
  7. Aug 9, 2011 #6

    jtbell

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    Good point. I did my teaching after I had finished my required coursework, picked up a master's degree, and started on my Ph.D. dissertation research.

    In my (and my friend's) situation, our physics background was considered related enough to math that we were allowed to teach introductory math courses. This may vary from place to place depending on state regulations and the regional accrediting body.
     
  8. Aug 9, 2011 #7

    Pengwuino

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    I already have my masters so no worries on that end.
     
  9. Aug 9, 2011 #8

    bcrowell

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    I teach physics at a community college in California. Pengwuino, IIRC, aren't you in California?

    If you applied at my school, you wouldn't have a ghost of a chance. Even in good budget times, we're never desperate enough to hire people who are just getting started in grad school -- regardless of what would technically be OK on paper in terms of minimum qualifications.

    And these aren't good budget times. My department has laid off essentially 100% of our part-timers due to the state budget. This includes people who have PhD's and have been teaching for us part-time for 15 or 20 years. If some money did come along that would allow us to restore a few of the cut courses, we'd hire back those people first.

    That's not to say that what you're proposing is impossible. If you're in a big job market like LA or SF, it's conceivable that you could get someone to take a chance on you if you find a department that has a last-minute problem and is desperate. You might have to drive a long way. You would probably have to send your resume to a hundred schools or so, and once you were in their files you might get a nibble within the next year or two.

    Have you looked realistically at the amount of time required and the amount that these positions pay? The amount of time required is not consistent with doing well in your graduate courses, and the pay is probably less than you could make waiting on tables.

    Your situation is completely different from being ABD; it's very common for people who are ABD to get part-time work.
     
  10. Aug 9, 2011 #9

    Pengwuino

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    Actually, bcrowell, I was just hired on as a part-time adjunct at a local CC this past friday here in california :P I'm at West Hills - Lemoore. I think I got lucky because the college is very new and they're trying to expand. Also, the person who use to teach this class JUST got a full-time position in a different state (I think this was all VERY last minute).

    My question is for when I go on to georgia tech, which is in the center of Atlanta. Teaching this year will give me a good idea as to what kind of work is really involved and the pay. Then again, I'm not too worried about the pay since I know it won't be much anyways, but I think I'd gladly make less money to stay in some form of academic setting.

    It also gives me things to talk about in chat so I can laugh at my students with Evo.

    The main question is, as you hit on, how much it would affect me as a grad student. I figure since graduate students normally are TAs, being an adjunct would fill in for what I would typically be doing as a doctoral student anyhow. It wouldn't be like I'm being a TA AND an adjunct teaching 1 or 2 classes.
     
  11. Aug 9, 2011 #10

    bcrowell

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    Congrats, Pengwuino, for proving me wrong :-)

    Teaching 2 community-college physics classes is likely to be much, much more work than being a TA. Just to give you a rough idea, teaching two lecture-lab classes would count as 70% of my full-time contract, whereas teaching a single lab, which would be about equivalent to being a grad student TA, would be 15% of a full load. You will also find it to be much more work the first time you teach the course, so 2 lecture-lab classes might take you 40 hours a week the first time.
     
  12. Aug 9, 2011 #11

    Pengwuino

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    Yup I think I got lucky! When I looked at the job openings at SCCCD (state center community college district), they had 2 job openings... one being the President of fresno city college :P I should have applied...

    So one thing that has been confusing me is what a typical graduate TA load is. Everyone keeps telling me they would teach 1 lab a semester. During my masters, I was teaching 3/4 labs a semester! Is 1 lab normal??
     
  13. Aug 9, 2011 #12

    bcrowell

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    When you were teaching 3 or 4 labs as a TA, were you grading written labs? How many labs meetings did a course have per semester?

    When I was a TA at Yale, I taught one lab course per semester, graded a writeup from each student for each lab meeting, and had roughly 13 labs per semester.
     
  14. Aug 9, 2011 #13

    Pengwuino

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    Every lab I've taught met once per week for 13 weeks every semester. They were semi-written. The lab manual had pages with tables and everything and students filled out the tables but they also wrote up separate intros, results, discussions, and conclusions so they weren't formal written labs where it's built from scratch, but they also weren't entirely 'fill in the blank' kinda things.

    Each lab had about 20-26 students. I also have to admit that I did more work on the labs than anyone else. Most TAs just had them write intros and conclusions and didn't even really read them. I actually went through and made sure they had everything I asked for. So most TAs said their lab reports took about 3 minutes teach while mine took 5-8 minutes. I may need to learn to be more efficient/less careing :P
     
  15. Aug 9, 2011 #14

    bcrowell

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    Wow. That's a lot of work.
     
  16. Aug 9, 2011 #15

    Pengwuino

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    It came out to 15h-20h a week of actual, real work, depending on which lab was happening that week.

    So I'm guessing this is very out of hte ordinary for graduate students? Our university doesn't even give us tuition waivers!
     
  17. Aug 9, 2011 #16

    bcrowell

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    Double wow. No tuition waiver for a physics grad student?? How much is tuition? Do you get better support once you join a research group? I would say that your TA work was double or triple what I did as a grad student. This all sounds abnormal to me, but maybe I was just spoiled.
     
  18. Aug 9, 2011 #17

    Pengwuino

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    Well I was at a CSU so the tuition was only about $2.5k a semester. And there was almost no funding for any research so we just kinda sucked it up :P
     
  19. Aug 9, 2011 #18

    jtbell

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    When I was a TA at Michigan in the late 1970s, the typical load was 4 labs for a half-time TA position, with 18-20 students per lab. IIRC each student had two lab notebooks. Each week they turned in the notebook with the preceding week's lab, and we returned the notebook with the graded lab from two weeks earlier, in which they did the current week's lab. So they had a week to write them up, and we had a week to grade them.
     
  20. Aug 9, 2011 #19

    bcrowell

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    Four labs per semester? Per year? Did you actually teach the labs in person, or just grade the notebooks?
     
  21. Aug 9, 2011 #20
    I knew some people who did this at Austin Community College late in their Ph.D.. It's a ton of work, and not for very much money. If the amounts of work is comparable then I don't see how you can possibly do 2 courses since you'd be working full time at teaching community college rather than doing any Ph.D. work.

    One particular problem is logistics. You have to drive an hour to get to the community college and then drive back to do something at the local university.
     
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