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Applying While Adjunct

I enjoyed reading George David Clark’s recent piece about teaching statements. My whole focus, as a professor at a community college, is on what I do in the classroom. I still have the statement I wrote as part of my student-teaching application, oh so long ago. I won’t quote it here, as it waxes a bit philosophical and makes me cringe when I recall my naïveté.

There’s another part of the application process that I want to focus on here: letters of recommendation. As an adjunct and as someone who’s a decade out of graduate school, I think I’d be at a loss to find three or four people to write me those letters. My department chair could certainly do one, and the chair I had for several years (who left 18 months ago) would be able to characterize my professional life effectively.

But who else? By its nature, adjuncting is a lonely business. Those I spend the most time with are my students. I work to improve their writing skills, but rarely do they attain the point where I would want them to provide a recommendation. There are a few people around the campus I have contact with, like the librarians who do presentations for me every semester, but I can’t imagine that they would have much to say. I have no research to speak of, and while my outside writing keeps me involved in the education world, I don’t think that a letter from an editor is appropriate for my application packet.

This conundrum can’t be mine alone. If the lack of jobs in higher education weren’t enough of a worry, now I’m concerned about ever being a viable candidate for a tenure-track position. How can I be a viable candidate if I can’t even put together a decent application? Readers, outside of soliciting all of you to write me letters of recommendation, whom would you use? While the letters might be a formality and not the most important part of my materials, simply omitting them is most certainly not an option.

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