The Woes and Wonders of Being a Professor

Here is a piece that I wrote for Epifania:

Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a teacher.  I would (much to their dismay) line up my younger siblings and give them homework assignments.  As I grew, I became the family (and friends) tutor.  As long as it wasn’t math related, I seemed to be the person to ask about it.

As I grew, those desires solidified; effectively launching me into the world of education shortly after graduating from college.  I had it all planed; after I graduated, I’d join a newspaper and work on my masters degree.  The newspaper thing didn’t quite work out the way I’d planned; but, I did go to grad school to get my masters and CT state teacher’s certification.  It was from there that the most significant change began.

My certification is actually in grades 7-12; though I never taught those grades professionally.  The pool of applicants in CT seems to far outweigh the number of jobs available; couple that with the fact that I have my masters (and therefore get paid more than one with just a bachelors) there were no bites at all in the proverbial sea.  At one point, I’d sent out an alarming 50 applications and received no response.  Devastated, broke, and months away from having to begin paying back my student loans, I desperately answered an advertisement for a local University looking for “adjuncts” (aka not-full time teachers).

That day was the beginning of my “destiny.”  One class as a professor and I was hooked; no longer did I have any desire to teach younger children.  I loved being at the University so much that I applied for a full-time job shortly after; not only did I get that job, I got a promotion less than a year after that and have been at the University full-time ever since.  It’s really the best of all my worlds wrapped up in one nice package.  I get to teach, run a department, and write all at the same time.  It honestly couldn’t be better.

As I’m sure you know, no teacher ever gets into education for the money.  Honestly, there are times when the money we get is almost laughable.  The amount of hours and brain power exuded on any given day really doesn’t even come close to what we’re paid.  But like I said, that’s not why we’re here.  We’re here because each and every semester there is that one student whom we reach.  The one student who turns to you before walking out the door on the last day and says “Thanks!  I couldn’t have done this without you.”

That’s not to say that there are no negatives in education; because, believe me, there is.  Universities (and most educational facilities) are, by and large, extremely political places; and, I’m by no means a political person.  And, of course, there is always that student or two who gives you the hardest time possible.  Whether it be complaining about a grade or complaining about an assignment, there is always something going on that makes them unhappy.

But, what’s it all about you ask?  Where do the pros outweigh the cons?  What keeps you getting up each day to fight the fight?  By far, it’s the immeasurable amount of pride felt when one of your students walks across the stage in May to receive their hard earned degree.  I get to say I helped them do that.

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