We thought it was appropriate to close our current series on the adjunct experience by sharing some of their thoughts, in their own words.

At the end of our survey on the adjunct experience, we closed with the question: “Do you have anything else you’d like to share about your experience as an adjunct?” We heard from several of the adjunct instructors, and noticed some common themes among those responses. Below, we’ve grouped their comments into five common themes, and included several representative quotes from some of the respondents. If you’re an adjunct, and you’d like to add your voice to the conversation, please submit a comment below.

Adjuncts in their own words: Five observations about the adjunct experience

We come to the role for different reasons, with different expectations.
The “adjunct experience” is truly a varied one, which can’t be explained simply with one label. As one put it: “Adjunct: this term defines too many situations that are not comparable. It would be like saying all people with schizophrenia have the same symptoms/situations. The label doesn’t apply well.”

We’d appreciate the support and wisdom of others on campus.
When challenges and questions arise, it’s not always easy for adjuncts to determine where to turn to for help. Those who are new to teaching may also appreciate guidance that would help them develop as professionals. For some, the challenge is quite significant: “We are working impossible problems that we were not necessarily prepared for.”

Yes, many of us would like to have full-time positions, and we recognize it may be difficult to attain that goal.
“Although I enjoy being an adjunct instructor, being a full-time employee would be a dream come true.” Another noted that “…it is very challenging to move from adjunct to full-time as the opportunities are rare and there are so many individuals in the same situation, with similar education and experience.”

We value building relationships with students and fellow instructors.
Getting to know, and work with, others is part of the job… often, an enjoyable one: “I am a former department chair, so I am still actively involved in my department. It is a small department (twelve faculty) so it is easy to work together.” That said, it can prove challenging for many adjuncts, who are dedicated to the role, but don’t have an established network on campus. “Teaching is fun and productive, but it takes special effort to get to know colleagues.”

We truly enjoy our role in the classroom and take it very seriously.
Despite the challenges, from low pay to lack of job security, “…we do it because we love our jobs and the students.” One adjunct also stated: “It is very rewarding and I intend to continue indefinitely.”


We’d like to thank all the adjunct instructors who took the time to respond to our survey. Did you miss a post? Review all the posts in our Adjunct Experience series.


Adjuncts: Using a Cengage Learning solution this fall? Your team is here to help take the stress out of your class prep!

We’ve created a site specifically for adjunct instructors, where you can find resources and people that will answer questions about your course materials, help you set up and implement your Cengage Learning digital solutions, and work with you to identify strategies that will engage your students and drive improved outcomes.

Visit //services.cengage.com/adjunct to begin!

Are you an adjunct instructor? Keep the conversation going. Add your own reflections on the adjunct experience in the comments.