“Only” an Adjunct

Many apologists and other Christians of an academic bent that I have spoken to have a dream of being a professor. They start their education and even as an undergrad they are planning their promotion from assistant to associate to full professor. They are already on the tenure track in their mind before it is possible in reality.

For some people, this will come to pass. They will earn their Ph.D and receive their dream position at a major university or seminary. For others, life may take a different turn. Many end up going the adjunct route.

I am an adjunct instructor at Emmanuel Bible College and a sessional instructor at Tyndale University College.  Some see the adjunct path as the kiss of death to an academic career. I would like to say that it is not that bad.

Image from pxaby

The first thing you have to do is ask yourself is: why are you teaching? Is it because you want the prestige of being a professor or is it because you love your subject and you love your students? Teaching is teaching, whether you are adjunct or a distinguished professor. The pay is not the same but you can have the same impact on a student’s life.

Adjunct teaching can also be good because you have a foot in two different worlds (or if you are me, three or four). It is easy to get immersed in the academic world and lose track of reality. One can teach youth ministry without ever talking to a teenager or teach evangelism without ever talking to a non-Christian. An adjunct instructor is forced by circumstance to have a life outside of the university or seminary.

If you find yourself as an adjunct instructor, do not see yourself as a failed professor. See yourself as blessed to be able to bring the mix of knowledge and experience that you have to the students God has given you. Share what you have and bless where you are.



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5 thoughts on ““Only” an Adjunct”

  1. I am currently contemplating leaving my current position as a High School Teacher to undertake full time theological study with the hope of being able to teach about God full time in some capacity. I’m interested to know more about what an Adjunct or Sessional instructor actually does, and how did you get to that position in the first place. Thanks!

    1. The challenge is that you cannot teach adjunct full time. Adjunct is when you go to a school and agree to teach one or two courses for them. Many try to teach that same course at a few different schools. For example, next year I will be teaching 5 courses. But because adjunct are paid per course and that amount is not a huge amount, you cannot make a full time wage even if you have a full time course load. Adjunct is better as an addition to something else. It is of course possible to use adjunct as a stepping stone to more full time permanent teaching.

  2. Frank, it might be a good idea to teach high school and then teach a course or two at night, at a seminary for instance. You just won’t be able to make ends meet financially.

    I was an adjunct for about 6 years — it was hard, but certainly rewarding in so many ways. I was tenured this past year and it’s night and day in terms if pay and benefits. Not to mention you have far more control over the subject matter. Blessings to you.

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