Matt Reed, community college leader extraordinaire, shares his reflections on getting a job at a community college in today’s Inside Higher Ed. Here’s an excerpt. Go to IHE for the rest, and check out his column, Confessions of a Community College Administrator, for advice and reflections on everyday life in that sector as well as insights into the latest higher ed policy issues.
And those of us who work here work hard, and take our work seriously. The work may look different from the work at a research university, but anybody who has taught a fifteen-credit load to students of uneven levels of academic preparation can tell you that it’s not for the faint of heart. Doing this work well is worthwhile, but really hard. If it’s not for you, there’s no shame in that, but don’t apply. These jobs are not stepping stones — the teaching load is too high for that — nor are they jokes.
That said, what can you do to improve your chances?
First, if you haven’t had exposure to the community college world as either an adjunct or a student, pick up a class. Get a firsthand sense of the reality of the place. T.A.’ing at a R1 is simply not the same experience, and if you try to suggest that it is, you’ll convey that you have no idea what you’re talking about. I know that any administrator recommending adjuncting is likely to get blasted with righteous internet rage, but candidates with community college experience consistently beat candidates without. And there are valid reasons for that.