If you’re like me, you have something (or multiple somethings) that you love to do and really enjoy sharing with others. Perhaps you’ve considered sharing those things with others and have found you really enjoy teaching others. That’s great!
Because I enjoy teaching and sharing great learning opportunities I have experienced, with the hope that others can benefit, today’s post is on a topic I wish I’d understood better before I went to graduate school.
If you would like to be a college or university professor in the United States, and do not yet have your advanced degrees in hand, please do not rely on your prospective graduate program as your sole source of information on the state of the academic job market. Grad school will be a gamble if your end goal is to become a college professor.
“But, I’m amazing and my mentors think I have promise and I believe in ME!” you say. There’s something they’re not telling you, either because they’re embarrassed, haven’t experienced it, or just don’t want to crush your dreams.
The job market for full time college teaching is tight. You may think you’re special and the exception to the rule, but the fact is, once you graduate, so are all of your outstanding colleagues/competition. Most faculty jobs (~3/4) are unbenefited and pay less than a living wage. Do you have an alternative source of income? Are you happy being paid in “personal fulfillment”?
In the eventuality that you do not have an alternative source of income and would like to be paid in more than personal fulfillment, prepare for yourself a viable Plan B and even a Plan C.
You’re smart, resourceful, you love your academic discipline, and you love to teach. Fantastic! There are a lot of options for you. If you’re really determined to go to graduate school to become a professor, hang on to your backup plans just in case. You never know. You may even find you like them more than you like academia. Just be prepared. Good luck!