But then I found myself unable to get back on the tenure track. I've been adjuncting at a variety of places ever since. I'm one of the classic whiners, too, always bitching about how hard it is, how little money it is, and how we get disrespected. I teach anywhere there are classes, and I'm able to just barely pay my bills. I'm an aging adjunct, unsure of my place in the profession, just scrapping and scraping to have a career.
I've been on the job market for ten years then, and I've applied about 350 times during that stretch. I've had - at most - 25 phone or skype interviews, and 5 glorious campus interviews over those ten years.
And on Friday, for the first time, I received a job offer.
Get ready to paint me as ungrateful or whatever.
The job is at a shitty place, a school I'd never want to tell people about. It's got a lousy reputation, is in a city where I could probably live, but where I would have to leave a good number of friends and family behind - I'm unmarried. The school suffers from OUD, or online university disease. It's mostly known for its wide variety of online degree programs, taught by a dispersed group of adjuncts.
Yes, I know I should have thought more about the place when I first applied. But I don't know how else to explain the desperation of 10 years of adjuncting. I felt as if I'd take a full time job ANYWHERE, and so I applied EVERYWHERE.
And then the job offer.
At first I was ecstatic: health benefits, salary, an office, an academic home, all the stuff I've told myself I longed for. But I called my first buddy to tell him and he said, "Xxxxxxxx College, what's that?" And I started to tell him, "Well, it's a college in Xxxxxxxx; it's got an undergrad population of about 5000, but mostly it's known for their online schools." And my buddy said, "Ohhhhhhhhhh, THAT school."
And all day it went like that. The most encouraging thing I heard was, "Well, at least you'll have a job."
It's ranked in the fourth tier of its region, within 2-3 spots of the very bottom. The facilities are old and in disrepair. They use an inordinately high number of adjuncts in their traditional undergrad college. The faculty in my department seemed unhappy and worn down. One of them drank to near blackout condition at my dinner. One kept saying, "Well, it's nice when class is over each day to go home to my little one and his daddy!"
My buddies are not snobby; I don't think I'm snobby. But the place has got little to offer except for the fact that it's desperate enough to hire me, who's proven to be unhirable for 10 years.
I know that there are much worse problems in academia, but could anyone weigh in with a sincere opinion about my dilemma. I have another day to reply. Of course I want a full time job. I want to be fully employed. I've spent ten years fighting for this chance. I just fucked up by applying to a place (others, too, I'm sure) where I don't think I imagined I'd ever have to consider. I want my career to mean something, to do good work at good places. The truth is, I'd be embarrassed to join Xxxxxxxxxx College.
Has anyone faced this problem down? Can anyone offer some perspective? I'm sick of searching, sick of sending out job letters every year, sick of adjuncting. But will I just exchange those problems for other problems? Should I stay put and keep pitching? What if it's another ten years?
Does anyone teach at a place you're embarrassed to call home?