Sprinting Down the Home Stretch to Freedom

Home Stretch

The home stretch. April 1st is always a milestone for me because the end of the semester comes into focus. Just four more weeks. Surely we can make that. Right?

The second round of papers: graded. The third: about to begin. We’re in the momentary calm before the storm. One final push and we’re out the other end, free to enjoy the summer however we choose.

I’m suffering from a particularly acute case of senioritis this semester because I think this is my last semester as a teacher. It’s getting to the point where teaching isn’t worth it to me anymore. The extra hours and low pay don’t make sense. Besides, there are many other things I’d rather be doing.

Actually, I should say that adjunct pay here at the University of Georgia is pretty decent as far as part-time professor pay goes. Considering the low cost of living in Athens, the pay really isn’t all that bad relatively speaking. But it’s still far below what I’m worth. I know my skills and experience are worth more than $32,000 per year.

That’s why I’ve been slowly breaking my addiction to teaching, gradually transitioning away from academic life. Luckily, I’ve found some healthy habits to replace my unhealthy behavior.

For example, I’ve rediscovered the joy of writing that had gone dormant within me since I began graduate school in 2008. Writing research paper after research paper zapped my desire to pen for pleasure. Add to that about 3,000 graded student papers each year and the result has been that I barely even want to look at a word processor, let alone write regularly for fun.

But now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, my desire to write is returning. This website is helping, of course. I’ve found that I have something to say in this space just about every day, which amazes me. I happen to be an introverted, quiet person in my daily life.

So, the goal is to turn this writing thing into a full-time job. I’ve started getting serious about pitching stories to major publications—something I’ve been only pawing at for years. I’m ready to take my writing to the next level, from part-time job to a real career.

Jump without a net—that’s what I’m thinking. It’s how I work best. Do or die. Fly high or crash and burn. It’s stressful, but exciting.

I’ve threatened to walk away before. Actually, just about every semester since I began teaching has been my “last.” And every time, I accept the classes offered to me and come back to my addiction. It’s too easy to return.

Even now, as I write this, I wonder if I’m serious about leaving. I mean, I haven’t told anyone in my department yet. I guess that’s my way of keeping the door open. What if the writing life doesn’t work out?

I’m inspired by stories of other academics who are leaving or who have left, which is probably why I read every piece of quitlit I can get my hands on. Like the story of my friend and colleague Joe Fruscione, who is quitting his adjunct job this semester after 15 years in a classroom.

My four years as an adjunct pale in comparison to Joe’s decade and a half. I can’t imagine what he’s feeling. Some excitement, some trepidation I would think. I know the feeling.

Entering the home stretch this semester feels different than it usually does. I really think this is it for me. It’s a little bittersweet, I have to say. I will miss the college campus, but I know I’ll stay involved with the world of higher education. After all, I still love to read and write about it, which I’m sure I’ll continue to do on a daily basis. Ideally, the next phase of my life will involve writing about education.

Yeah, the home stretch is a little bittersweet for me this year, but it’s mostly sweet.

5 Comments

  1. My current state is exactly as yours. I labored as an indentured adjunct in the fields of higher ed for twelve years and agree that it is simply not worth the treatment. I blog about the adjunct life these days but I am also in the waning days of my last semester of servitude. Penury, dishonor and the zenith of satisfaction are the adjunct’s share. But there was a time when competent adjuncts were considered a valuable resource. Now the adjunct is a commodity. I’m happy about being expendable. http://adjunctularnoodling.blogspot.com

  2. With great pleasure, I’ve noticed the stretching and growth in your writing — thought, hoped, that’s where you were heading.

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