A Simple Courtesy

When high school seniors apply to colleges and are not admitted, they are afforded the courtesy of a perfunctory rejection letter stating something like “Thank you for applying to the blah blah University. There were many qualified applicants…After completing a careful review of your application and supporting credentials, our Admissions Committee has concluded that we are unable to offer you acceptance to the university…”

However, apparently, when you spend nearly ten years of your life to get a Ph.D. and apply for tenure track positions, you no longer are worthy of this courtesy. I have been adjuncting in a mathematics department for the past four years. I applied for tenure track positions in this very department (three times) and actually interviewed for one of the positions. However, even after my interview, and even after working there for several years, the search committee didn’t feel the need to inform me that they had given the position to someone else.


This blog is dedicated to all those Ph.D.’s out there who have been trapped for many years in the adjunct purgatory, making less than $20,000 a year, and foolishly hoping that they might win the lottery (i.e. get a tenure track position in the city of their choice). Chances are that if you don’t have a position yet, you will never get one. However, the job search is addictive. Every year, you apply with new optimism thinking that maybe this time people will take notice of your C.V. because you have a few more publications. You are also encouraged by your few friends who made it. So you tell yourself to stay positive and not give up because the universe will reward you for your optimism. After all, it worked for some of your friends. And this way, you gamble another year of your precious 30’s (and this is particularly risky for women who dream of having biological children of their own) to see if you get a winning ticket. Yes, miracles do happen sometimes, and people do win the lottery, but it’s highly likely that you won’t. So move on for heaven’s sake, have a family and work for Trader Joe’s because that way you’ll make an actual living wage and have health and retirement benefits.