Critical Readability

My critical readings of the best and worst of online media

The Least Stressful Jobs Of 2013 – Forbes

“University professors have a lot less stress than most of us. Update: Well maybe not, see ADDENDUM below.” via The Least Stressful Jobs Of 2013 – Forbes. Dear Ms. Adams, let me tell you why I (an adjunct professor) am stressed:

1. I have $75,000 worth of student debt

2. In a good year, I make $30,000.

3. Any one of my classes can be canceled at the last minute.

4. I get paid by the class.  That means I could make $10,000 next year, or maybe 0.

5. I am on a limited term contract which states I should have no expectation for continued employment.

6. No reason is needed to not rehire me.

7. If I give a student a C for cheating on an exam, or talk about some politically unpopular topic (say, evolution or women’s rights),  the student can complain and I can be “not rehired.” And the students know it.

8. I usually find out at the last possible minute if I will have a job next month

9. I am 30 years old and only recently acquired health, dental, and eye benefits. Most adjuncts are not so lucky

10. I am 30 years old and only recently acquired retirement benefits.  Most adjuncts are not so lucky

11. I have sent out dozens of applications for permanent jobs (tenure-track) and my biggest accomplishment to date was learning that I am on an active wait list for a job that had over 600 applicants

12. Did I mention that I teach 300-500 students a semester? That I work 60-80 hours a week? And that summers and breaks are for me to get caught up on everything I didn’t get done while teaching 500 students?  Did I mention my colleague teaches 1200 students?

13. Did I mention that somehow I have to find time to research and write articles and books merely so that someday I may not have such a financially precarious life?  That in order to get an entry level tenure-track job in my field today I have to have my first book published, a task that 10 years ago was reserved for determining tenure (i.e. “senior” status).

14. Ms. Adams, since you clearly spent no time researching your news article, let me tell you that writing an academic article is nothing like your poor journalism.

15. Stress is sending out dozens and dozens of grant applications, fellowship applications, articles, etc., waiting 5 months, and then learning that constant rejection is part of the game

16. And that the game means one more year of underemployment because the reviewers took too damn long to get back to you on that article and now you’ve missed the (literally) 5 months of the year in which it is possible to apply for a tenure-track job

17. Stress is acquiring $2000 worth of credit card debt to attend the academic conference that is really a job interview in disguise

Yes, I realize we’re not fire fighters or nurses and we don’t work in sweatshops or factories.  But we create the knowledge the rest of the world needs to function, even if the world fails to properly utilize the knowledge we create. Even if that student fails to pay attention in her liberal arts classes and then goes on to write one of the most poorly researched articles on

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2 thoughts on “The Least Stressful Jobs Of 2013 – Forbes

  1. Boy does this little blurb oversimplify the jobs of professors! First, remember that professors have to spend years working for their PhD – tons of writing, papers, dissertations, research – before they can get the job. Talk about stress! Expensive Stress. Then, they have to fight for those “cozy” tenure-track jobs, which are few and far between. So what do they have to do to get tenure?Publish and be seen! And so the statement above that claims that “deadlines are few” and that the conferences are “non-mandatory” is completely false. Professors have to constantly research, publish (a time-consuming task that takes many hours and drafts and peer editing and research) and then they have to present and defend their work in conferences. There most certainly ARE deadlines – with conference dates, publishers, department-heads who want to see publications, etc. The statement above makes it sound as if all professors do is sit around, teach a couple classes, and attend a couple conferences. Add the enormous responsibilities that professors have to mentor graduate students, chair dissertation committees, offer writing conferences, advise undergraduates, and run department programs like writing centers, and you get an 80-hour work week. Oh, let’s not forget grading. It takes about 20-25 minute to grade one essay. So if a teacher has two classes of 100 undergrad English students – well, you do the math.

    • Thanks for the comment – I agree completely! After sharing this article I was so angry that I edited it to include why my job is stressful. You touch on many of the things I brought up, but with more detail. Thanks!

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