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Life of an Adjunct

Before I begin I would like to say that I am not claiming this to be the experience of all adjunct professors, but just the experience that I have had and that of my friends who are, like me, both a graduate student and an adjunct.

When I first signed on as an adjunct I envisioned having my own office, posted office hours outside my door, and monthly staff meetings where I could learn novel teaching methods and interact with other faculty. Boy, was I wrong. I had anticipated the low wages, after all, I was a graduate student and it is expected for them to be broke at all times, however, I did not expect the lack of space and seclusion that came along with the position.

Lack of space is a problem faced by adjuncts all over the nation. Schools like Georgetown and Western Oregon University and Miami University all face the problem of housing adjunct; there is just not enough office space. This is the glum but true nature of the position, especially in a city where space is so limited such as New York City. I understood the space constraints very quickly after signing on, and in fact was very appreciative of the effort Queens College put into making their adjunct professors feel at home. QC opened an Adjunct Center in 2012 which contains a computer room and a small lounge area that includes a microwave and fridge. This showed me the dedication they had to their adjunct members.

However, there was still this lingering problem of seclusion. I felt even more secluded after joining on as an adjunct than when I was a grad student. Being an adjunct took more time out of my day so I was now finding myself preparing for lessons, grading assignments or making copies of tests instead of spending much time with classmates. Since I was one of the few students in my cohort that year who began teaching I felt alone and I didn’t know who to talk to about my problems. I was constantly emailing my department, whom I am so grateful to because they were life savers! But there was no one else who I could share the terrors and the joys of teaching with, until now.

I really want to applaud QC and its adjuncts for taking action. This new platform has given me insight into problems other adjuncts face and many new techniques that some use in their classroom. I realize now that this might be a better way to connect to other faculty because 1) I am able to interact with faculty in all different departments and 2) Meeting once a month might actually not have been as practical as I once thought.

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