Posted by: codecalla | March 29, 2013

Hard Choices

One of the frustrating aspects of being an adjunct faculty member is that your contract every season is not guaranteed, so you are never certain if you will make enough to pay for life’s necessities or random splurges.  It’s not unlike the uncertainty becoming a full time author.  At this point, the IRS decided to warn universities and colleges that they had to count an adjunct faculty’s work hours as more than face to face contact hours.  I get paid for credit hours, and under the new approach, designed to allow part time employees benefits, colleges and universities will have the response of cutting adjunct faculty hours to fit under the new requirement so they don’t have to provide benefits.  After all, adjunct faculty members are designed to help facilitate the cost of students’ education.  The cheaper rates make it possible for other more expensive classes and college features.  We subsidize education.

Due to the new effects of the current laws, the hours will be diminished at each institution, and any adjunct who is trying to make a living, will most likely have to find additional employment or another job entirely.  Perhaps the IRS was trying to prevent adjuncts from being overworked without due consideration for their efforts, however, the additional effect is that adjuncts will have to work even harder to make a living…or treat their classes as a luxury of work, only working because they want to, not because they have to make enough to pay for their living.  I’m not sure how I feel knowing that after working for more than five years, instead of making more money, I’ll be making less with even less of a secure future.

There are always unintentional effects of laws, and this is one of them.  Perhaps it could have been foreseen as a consequence, but often people who ascribe benefits as necessary and not luxury, have not had to make hard choices for their livelihoods.

Hard choices.  I currently work at two fine establishments and I understand why they must cut hours, even as I deplore it.  I can’t imagine adding another school to my current schedule, but perhaps I shall.  Or, possibly take advantage of freelance writing opportunities.  This is a great time to devote more effort to the fiction writing as well.  I’ll make it work somehow.  I have many options, unlike some who are cast about by their fates.  I’m grateful for the advance notice so I can make it work.  Now back to writing, teaching, and playing video games.  Because we all need support.




  1. When I entered a college of further education in England in 1991 I was on a yearly contract i.e no holiday pay, no pay if off sick and no pay for prep and marking work. That went on for four years then I got the permanent contract. That gave me one hour pay for non-contact (prep and marking) for every two hours contact. I see where you are coming from. Good luck.

    • They’re trying to support adjuncts by admitting how much work we do, but since our work is meant to be below a typical faculty salary, it’s affecting us differently than the positive intent. I’ve been looking into additional colleges as another source; I may tutor for writing essays or fiction; and try some freelance writing. I have options, thankfully.

      • ‘More than one string to your bow’ is a good place to be in. In Britain many people have to have two or three jobs to make ends meet.

      • I think it’s going to be the upward trend of many people to work multiple part time jobs. There are opportunities of full time positions, but I like the flexibility of the part time, especially when I consider my writing time.

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