Office Hours with the Prof 8-15

In many parts of the country, fall term is getting ready to start back up, if it hasn’t already.

When most people think about college, they probably instinctively think about the Fall term because so many of the more “iconic” college visions occur during this time:


Everyone likes to reminisce about their first day or week in college.

Many of us have prioritized college football over…well…college during the Fall.

The general “newness” of everything evokes feelings of hope and the belief that we’ll be or will do “something different” this time around that will make us more successful, either as professors or as students.

For all of the positive and jovial thoughts that are generally associated with the fall term, there is generally a pronounced degree of uncertainty, confusion, and even chaos associated with Fall.

Many people are beginning their college or graduate school careers during this time and can take some time adjusting to university life, oftentimes with great degrees of frustration.

I use the word “people” because this applies to students and to faculty members.

Much of the time, professors, some of whom may have extended themselves too far, are finding it very difficult to manage their responsibilities.

Many online adjuncts also get the feeling that they’re simply not ready for online teaching at the present time.

Neither of these situations necessarily represent “bad” things, but when professors agree to teach courses, they need to be “all in”.

old man with a long beard with big smile

They owe it to themselves.

They owe it to their students.

They owe it to their college and universities.

They owe it to YOU or to anyone else that is putting in the work to land an online teaching gig.

We all get busy at times and it is certainly okay to feel a little burned out at times.  In sports, we would take a water break or sub out.

We wouldn’t be kicked off the team and, if we’re good and always give maximum effort, we’ll likely be given more opportunities in the future.

So let them take a water break

I’ve applied to online teaching positions that have, whether intentionally or not, had submission deadlines set very close to the beginning of the upcoming term.

In these situations, I knew that submitting my application two days before the term started was unlikely to result in my landing a gig that week.

However, being “in the system” or applicant pool is always beneficial and, in one case, I actually received a callback on the Friday before a term started and had my online course set up by Wednesday of the following week (one day to spare, mind you!)

Want to know a more proactive option?

Smell blood in the water

After the term starts, it usually doesn’t take long to figure out which students are “dialed in”.

This applies to instructors as well.

Any program coordinator worth her salt recognizes this and sometime within the first few weeks will either review courses herself or will review reports submitted to her by reviewing bodies.

What does she not want to see?

Adjunct faculty being late.

Adjunct faculty being absent.

Adjunct faculty being lazy.

Just imagine her reviewing Professor Y’s class with a frown on her face.  It’s Friday and his weekly announcement hasn’t been posted.  Heck, he hasn’t been “in” the course since last Friday.

A higher up may or may not already be aware of her “problem” online adjunct faculty member.

This is where you come in.

“Dear Program Coordinator,

I hope that your fall term has been outstanding!

My name is You and I submitted application materials for the online adjunct position in XXX department last month.  I am still very much interested in working with YYY (university) and I hope to be able to assist the department in any way possible in the near future.  I would love to discuss my contributions to XXX with you and appreciate you for taking the time to review my (attached) materials!



Now tell me what you think the most likely scenario is?

  1. She receives your e-mail, reads it, quickly forgets about it and never replies.
  2. She receives your e-mail, reads it, gets upset that you would reach out to her directly and deletes all submission materials and your original application.
  3. She receives your e-mail, reads it, reviews your carefully crafted cover letter and CV, digs up your original application, and either A. makes a mental note to reach out to you in the coming weeks B. responds to your e-mail, thanking you for reaching out to her and promising to keep you in mind moving forward.

To be honest, option 1 is most likely…by far.

However, option 2 is the least likely…also, by far.

And option 3…well…that’s an interesting one.

You can never be sure how a term is progressing, how online faculty are performing, what a department’s needs are, how the program coordinator feels at that instant.

You can be sure that some action is better than nothing.

You can also be sure that getting your materials directly in the hands of one of, if not the ultimate decision-maker is infinitely better than leaving your online teaching fate up to the bureaucratic nightmare known as “Human Resources”.

Suggested strategy

  • Review term start dates for all colleges and universities that you sent solicited application materials to (“following up” on shots in the dark in this manner will not be the best use of your time and will likely not result in the best outcomes).
  • Three to five weeks into the term, send e-mail to program coordinator, program director, etc. re-stating your interest and including application materials.
  • Make note of the date of the e-mail as well as of any replies received.
  • Send a “thank you” e-mail
  • If a reply is received, set a date near the end of the term (or, if there is a large gap between terms) to the sender of the previous e-mail (which may be different than who you sent your original e-mail to) citing the previous response and re-affirming your interest.
  • Receive a definitive reply (“we actually don’t need anyone now…thanks for thinking of us” “can you start next term?”
  • Profit

Curriculum Vitae Biography Form Concept

You still have some time before the term starts.  Let me know how this strategy works for you in landing your online teaching gig!

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