PDA

View Full Version : Life Attn: College/University Instructors. Thinking about teaching...


Mr_Tomahawk
04-13-2011, 03:47 PM
I will try to keep this brief.

I currently work at a design firm as a landscape architect.

I have a bachelors degree in architecture and a masters in landscape architecture. I enjoy my job, but have always toyed with the idea of teaching a few classes relative to my background a few years from now.

I loved the academic side of college and speaking about topics I have a passion about to others who share the same passion would be a delight. I was a TA for a hand-full of classes during my post-graduate tenure and had a blast.

A few questions I have...

I know you don't need a degree in education or anything like that as I had instructors who went from the field straight to instructing. Those were also my favorite instructors as they had the real-world experience. How do you land position as such when you are in the field and are so disconnected from any sort of scholastic environment?

What does a college/university look for on a resume with someone in my position? Anything I should pursue in the meantime to strength my candidacy for an instructing position?

I know this is all relative to location, experience, and what you teach...but what is the average pay per class taught? I have NO clue. I imagine I will start by teaching an evening class until I can pick up a few more classes to make it a full-time gig...if possible.

Any input would be greatly appreciated. Would really like to hear from any college/university instructors if we have any on CP.

Sorry that wasn't brief...

Captain Obvious
04-13-2011, 04:54 PM
If you are teaching on a per class basis you are what is called an adjunct instructor. Basically all you have to do is find an institution in need. I have no idea about your area or what it would pay, but it seems that with real world experience you are qualified to adjunct. And typically your schedule needs to be flexible.

Mr_Tomahawk
04-13-2011, 07:28 PM
So far so good...


Anyone else?

Oz_Chief
04-13-2011, 07:56 PM
So far so good...


Anyone else?

The way each institution operates is different. In general major universities (like Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska) will have a difference between an adjunct position and an instructor/lecturer. They might have certain degree requirements to grant adjunct status but will allow experience dictate whether an individual is qualified to teach a class.

You should expect $2000-$5000 per class. Don't calculate what you will earn per hour.

The key is to make a contact with someone in the department in which you wish to teach. I suggest making an appointment with the Department Head/Chair through the main office secretary. Meet face-to-face, let them know you are interested in teaching and put the ball in their court. You may never hear anything. Or, they could be in touch very soon.

The trick is to put yourself in a position where opportunities present themselves. You need to let the academic unit know you exist. Volunteer to give a guest lecture. Maybe you can volunteer to help out with a recruiting event. Offer to give a presentation as part of their seminar series. Academics are curious people by nature. Once they are aware that you know something, they will probably want to pick your brain.

Rain Man
04-13-2011, 09:12 PM
I've taught as an adjunct for the past few years, and Oz Chief pretty much said exactly what I would have said.

Predarat
04-13-2011, 09:16 PM
Me too I was going to say try being an Adjunct at a Juco or something and see how you like it.

angelo
04-13-2011, 09:18 PM
I have been teaching adjunct for two semester now. I enjoy it immensely.
I did exactly what Oz-Chief said. I called the dean of the division and let her know that I was interested in teaching. It helped that I had graduated from the same college and had a good reputation in the field. The pay isn't bad ($800 a credit hour) and the interaction with the students is very rewarding. I was very up front with my employer about teaching and they loved the idea of being able to say that I was a Adjunct Professor at Such and Such college.

It looks good for them.

Ang

cdcox
04-13-2011, 10:37 PM
Pretty much what Oz said. I'd start by making a really comprehensive presentation on one of your high visibility, challenging projects. Call some of the local faculty members and offer to give that as a guest lecture in a class or as a seminar. Bring them in as a consultant on some of your projects, if the project would benefit from their expertise. The key is that you need to start rubbing elbows with them so they will think of you when they have a teaching opportunity.

In our department, we never advertise adjunct teaching opportunities. We normally call someone we already know. So you have to get to know them.

The pay as an adjunct isn't great as Oz already pointed out.

There may be some full-time non-tenure-track lecture positions that pay a little better, but you'll stand a much better chance of getting one of those if the department is already familiar with your teaching ability.

KurtCobain
04-13-2011, 10:43 PM
I don't teach, but it sounds good.

DeezNutz
04-13-2011, 10:44 PM
Pretty much what Oz said. I'd start by making a really comprehensive presentation on one of your high visibility, challenging projects. Call some of the local faculty members and offer to give that as a guest lecture in a class or as a seminar. Bring them in as a consultant on some of your projects, if the project would benefit from their expertise. The key is that you need to start rubbing elbows with them so they will think of you when they have a teaching opportunity.

In our department, we never advertise adjunct teaching opportunities. We normally call someone we already know. So you have to get to know them.

The pay as an adjunct isn't great as Oz already pointed out.

There may be some full-time non-tenure-track lecture positions that pay a little better, but you'll stand a much better chance of getting one of those if the department is already familiar with your teaching ability.

If you secure a guest lecture spot, your focus should be on getting students to talk and interact with you. Don't try to "prove that you're smart" to departmental faculty. For the purpose of your presentation, they're an ancillary audience. Adjunct work is all about being a high-quality teacher. Far, far less emphasis on the scholastic work.

cdcox
04-13-2011, 10:52 PM
If you secure a guest lecture spot, your focus should be on getting students to talk and interact with you. Don't try to "prove that you're smart" to departmental faculty. For the purpose of your presentation, they're an ancillary audience. Adjunct work is all about being a high-quality teacher. Far, far less emphasis on the scholastic work.

Yep.

Mr_Tomahawk
04-14-2011, 05:45 AM
Thanks for all the input everyone. This is pretty much what I was looking for.

Mr_Tomahawk
04-17-2011, 09:03 AM
At almost 28 years of age...is it worth pursuing a PhD?

However, I am in a position where I must work. So I am unsure whether or not it is possible or if there are programs that allow you to have a career while working towards a PhD.

Is a doctorates required to become an associate or assistant professor? Is there a difference in pay?

Sorry as I am and idiot when it comes to understanding the requirements to becoming the before-mentioned college instructor...

cdcox
04-17-2011, 09:46 AM
Ok, now that you are talking about tenure-track positions things get serious. Yes, a PhD will be required. The normal progression is Assistant Professor (without tenure) -> Associate Professor (tenure awarded) -> Professor. As an assistant professor you will have 5 years to build your record, you go up for tenure and promotion in your 6th year, and you will either be awarded tenure or dismissed. If you are dismissed, your appointment will last one more year (your 7th) as an opportunity to find another job.

The pay is going to be a lot better than the adjuncts get. It will depend on the school. But I'm guessing that an assistant professor in landscape architecture will start in the $60K range at a university with a national reputation. In engineering it is in the $80K range. It will be less at a directional state school.

No, you aren't too old. I started my PhD when I was 26 and when I graduated and hit the job market, I was considered young. The three hires before me were all 10 years older than I.

I don't know that much about the discipline of landscape architecture, but once you are on tenure-track, you will be evaluated on activities other than just teaching. Again it will depend on the school how much these activities will matter. I'm guessing that funded research isn't a huge deal in landscape architecture. So you will evaluated on something like scholarship (publishing) and exhibits of your creative work. Again I don't know the field so I'm guessing here.

It will be intensely competitive to land a tenure track job. Probably around 100 applications, and they will all have their PhD. And you need to be flexible about relocating. The year you graduate there might be 5 openings that you are qualified for in the whole country.

The school you attend for your PhD will be important. In my field 60 to 70% of the university faculty come from about 10 to 15 programs. What you do while your in school matters. You'll need to develop your scholarship or creative exhibitions or whatever lansdscape architects care about while you are in school so that once you hit the job market it appears that you will be successful at what you will be evaluated against.

I've never seen a part-time PhD student transition to a faculty position. I won't say it can't be done, but consider that you will be competing against the best talent in your field for a 1 in 100 shot at a tenure track position. Everyone else has been going at it with everything they've got, while you are starting at a 40 hour per week deficit due to working full time. To stand a snowballs chance, you are going to have to find a way to double dip. Can your work feed into a high quality dissertation? Can you cut down to part time work and full time student? And do you want it bad enough?

If you are still interested, go make an appointment with some faculty members at a nearby university that you would like to teach at. Get the scoop on what academia is like your field. I could tell you a lot about engineering or the sciences. Not so much about landscape architecture. Make sure to talk to some young or mid-career people, because they will be more in tune with the contemporary competitive and tenure process than someone who went through the process 20 years ago.

cdcox
04-17-2011, 09:53 AM
Oh, and teaching will be more important at a directional state school, while the other activities (scholarship, creative exhibitions, etc) will be come more important as the reputation of the school increases.

Oz_Chief
04-17-2011, 10:16 AM
At almost 28 years of age...is it worth pursuing a PhD?

However, I am in a position where I must work. So I am unsure whether or not it is possible or if there are programs that allow you to have a career while working towards a PhD.

Is a doctorates required to become an associate or assistant professor? Is there a difference in pay?

Sorry as I am and idiot when it comes to understanding the requirements to becoming the before-mentioned college instructor...

What cdcox said is accurate and represents well the tenure track system.

I think the real questions are these: why do you want a PhD? Is it just to become tenure-track?

If so, I suggest that you talk to tenure-track faculty in your field. Young ones. A lot has changed in academia. In the sciences it is high pressure where one can be stretched too thin. I think once you get a feel for academia in landscape architecture you can answer "is it worth it to get a PhD?"

cdcox
04-17-2011, 10:49 AM
You can do a lot of research from your computer. Google:

landscape architecture univeristy of xxxx

Go to the faculty page. Find the ones that post their CVs. You need to make your CV look like theirs, beginning in graduate school and moving forward through your first tenure track appointment. Is that something that appeals to you?

Things I learned by looking at a few CVs --
1) a PhD isn't absolutely required.
2) city and regional planning seems to be the current trend at the big schools. You may need to develop some expertise in that or another hot area to land a tenure track position.
3) You can get research funding in landscape architecture (again, a lot of the funding is in the area of planning). They will probably emphasize funding through the tenure evaluation process.

This highlights another mindset in contemporary academia, especially among administrators: 1) the ability to teach is sometimes taken as a given. For an individual this may or may not be true. 2) What separates one tenure track candidate from another is the ability to bring something unique (and fundable!) to the table. So the administration might hire a wiz bang regional planner that is an expert in rehabilitating abandoned urban areas like Detroit, and just assume that anyone can teach the UG landscape architecture classes in their sleep. The administrator is going to select the person that can bring funding, prestige, and recognition to the department.

Rooster
04-17-2011, 11:01 AM
Not to hijack but....... Mr_Tomahawk what is your opinion on backyard landscaping timbers for flower beds and edging as a stopgap to a better solution in a couple of years.