Save Time By Skipping Comments on Student Papers

I've always assumed students enjoy reading feedback on their papers about as much as I enjoy writing it. But that's never stopped me from continuing to give it on every paper. Each semester, I take my stacks of student papers and work through them one by one, adding comments in the margin and coming up with some kind of end note that lists a couple positive comments and a couple suggestions for improvement. And each semester, I hand them back, not knowing if anyone cares about my advice or even reads it. What if most students aren't even reading my notes? Frankly, it would be a terrible waste of my time.  I could grade papers much faster if all I have to do is slap a grade at the end.

Day Dreaming at Work

Of course, that … Continue Reading ››

Featured Job – April 3, 2014

Today's featured job is perfect for someone who wants to escape to the wilderness for awhile and get away from it all. Bates College in Lewiston, Maine is hiring a Visiting Assistant Professor of History. Lewiston is the second-largest city in  Maine, but that isn't saying much: the population is only 37,000. The city, located in south-central Maine, is only about 40 miles north of Portland, which is Maine's largest city. One hundred miles north of Lewiston, you'll find Henry David Thoreau's hometown of Concord.
Walden Pond

Walden Pond

Because this job is a non-tenure-track, Visiting Assistant Professor position, it could be perfect for someone who just wants to explore the wilderness of Maine for a year or two and then move on. The White Mountains are only a few miles west in Vermont, as well. It would be a … Continue Reading ››

My House is Burning

I dreamed last night that my house was burning and, as I rushed to escape the flames, the only item I grabbed was a set of kitchen knives. Out of everything in my house, the only thing my subconscious mind decided to save was a collection of Henkels. It's true I love a good set of knives. No secret among my close friends and family. Ask any of them. I've been known to joke that the only reason I want to get married is to add a great knife set to the gift registry. But this dream was more than just an homage to cutlery. As I grabbed the knives and headed for the inflamed exit, I knew the precious cargo under my arm meant something important---like taking those knives was crucial to my ability to rebuild post-fire.

Burning House of AcademeContinue Reading ››

Summer Jobs, Credit Cards & Unemployment: Surviving the Summer on an Adjunct Budget

Summer is coming up and, for most adjuncts, that means 3-4 long months without a paycheck. Most adjuncts receive their final paycheck of the spring semester in May, and they won't be paid again until September. The summer months can get pretty tight financially---especially for those adjuncts who aren't lucky enough to find summer work. Adjunct budgets are notoriously thin anyway without the added strain of skimming a portion each month to survive the financial dearth of the summer months. Saving money on an adjunct's salary is nearly impossible. So adjuncts must find some other way to continue to pay rent when they aren't teaching. Unemployment Line for Adjuncts The really lucky adjuncts snap up a summer section or two, which keeps the paychecks coming. But most schools have many more adjuncts than they have summer sections, so only a few score one of … Continue Reading ››

Sprinting Down the Home Stretch to Freedom

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.
Home Stretch

Entering the Home Stretch.

  Actually, I should say that adjunct pay here at the University of Georgia is pretty … Continue Reading ››

Debt for Master of Arts Degree Increases by Double the National Average

What on earth could possess a person to borrow $43,000 for a Master of Arts degree? There is no possible way that could be a good idea. Financially speaking, an MA is worth little, if anything, more than a bachelor's degree. Borrowing $43,000 for a Master of Arts degree is insane. This $43,000 figure comes from a piece by Jordan Weissmann over at Slate in which he breaks down recent findings from the New America Foundation on the student loan borrowing habits of graduate students. Weissmann's piece is accompanied by some nifty graphics that illustrate graduate student borrowing trends and percentages of federal student loan disbursements. My favorite graphic from the piece, entitled "How Much Do Students Borrow During Grad School?," compares average grad student loan borrowing rates in 2004 to average grad student loan borrowing rates in 2012. Not surprisingly, those borrowing rates have increased across the board for all graduate … Continue Reading ››

Featured Job – March 27, 2014

Occasionally, we feature a job at Order of Education. Usually, it catches our eye for one reason or another. Here's one we spotted this week. For more higher ed jobs, check out the job board. Midway_College

Assistant Professor of English - Midway College

  • The Department of English at Midway is looking for someone with a completed PhD in English and a focus in rhetoric/composition.
  • Desired specialties - digital literacies, multilingual writing, writing across the curriculum, writing in the disciplines or professions, literacy studies, and relations among rhetoric, composition and communication.
  • Also valuable are these secondary specialties: 1) experience in developing internships or advising students on writing careers, 2) evidence of effective leadership and/or interest in writing assessment.
  • Midway College is located in a small town in Kentucky amid rolling hills, horse farms, and the Bourbon Trail and is within driving distance of Lexington, Louisville, and … Continue Reading ››

Welcome to the Online University of Facebook

Zuckerberg and company are up to something new today. Facebook's latest acquisition indicates that he's making a play at the online education space. This morning, Facebook bought a company called Oculus VR that specializes in designing virtual reality headsets. The obvious application of the 2 billion dollar purchase would be to create some kind of virtual social networking space where we can all see each other via headsets. Don't worry---that will fail. Dumb idea that will never catch on because most normal people don't give a crap about virtual reality hangouts.
Facebook Virtual Classroom

Will college classes of the future be taught by Max Headroom?

No, the real story of this purchase lies in an off-handed remark buried in Zuckerberg's Facebook post about other potential uses of the Oculus headset: “Imagine enjoying a courtside seat at a game, studying in a … Continue Reading ››

Avoid Confirmation Bias When Considering Grad School

Current grad students should ask prospective grad students if they are aware of the job market conditions. That's one of the key bits of advice in Kelly Hanson's GradHacker article yesterday. In the piece, Hanson also gives four other solid suggestions for how current and former graduate students can be tactfully honest about the realities of grad school and the academic job market when talking to prospective graduate students. Don't go to grad school advice Hanson happens to oppose the blanket "Just Don't Go" advice that has been previously offered by William Pannapacker and Rebecca Schuman. Personally, I come down on the side of Pannapacker and Schuman much more readily. I see too many reasons these days why earning an advanced degree might not be the best use of time and money. But Hanson disagrees, arguing that … Continue Reading ››

This Is How Textbooks Die

Last Friday, one pitch on the ABC show Shark Tank caught my attention. The company is called Packback Books and its founders have a totally new approach to digital textbooks that will probably be great for college students financially, but could be a disaster for them academically. If you think students rarely open their books now, just wait until Packback Books gets ahold of them. The company is allowing students to rent their books on an as-needed basis for five bucks a day. This crushes the traditional textbook purchasing/rental method which, according to the two young entrepreneurs from Packback, charges students unnecessarily for textbooks. Even renting a digital textbook can set students back $100 or more for one semester. It's really a terrible deal, considering students can buy the book for not much more. Textbook rental companies have been taking advantage of the fact that students have no alternative. So they jack up the … Continue Reading ››

News & Opinions for Grad Students and Higher Ed Faculty