Last Friday, I attended a workshop titled, “Faculty Careers in Community Colleges”, where several former Rutgers alumni and current faculty members from local community colleges gave some perspective on their experiences. I’m considering the field of academia after graduation, and more recently have given some thought to the prospect of teaching at a community college, so I was curious to hear from them.
If you weren’t able to make it to the workshop, based on the panel of 4, here were some of the interesting comments.
- There are some community colleges that mandate research and publications from their professors. The environment described actually sounded closer to the expectations of a faculty member of a standard 4-year institution. This is important to note as these community colleges would likely care more about your research plan in cover letters and applications, than schools where research is not expected.
- Teaching loads vary from about 4 to 5 classes a semester, which wasn’t that surprising to me, however the class size of some of them are capped at 40 students which means you are only teaching 120 students a semester. Quite the jump from teaching as a TA!!
- As with most job markets, positions to teach at community colleges are becoming increasingly competitive, sometimes receiving up to 120 applicants for 1 position which have increased the qualifications of the candidate pool. It’s becoming more and more common for the Ph.D to be “preferred” which actually means it’s a requirement, especially for the tenure track positions.
- Just like at most colleges and universities, the student body of community colleges is becoming very diverse. However, at community colleges it’s more common to find a wide array of experiences and backgrounds, ranging from the exceptional high school student looking to get a head start on college to the working full time adult looking to get to the next level of their career. I’m sure preparing content to fit all students would be quite the challenge.
And importantly, community college job announcements may not be listed in the same places as those for other faculty positions, so if you are interested, you might need to peruse their respective websites. Good luck!