I just made a big life decision on the side of risk rather than safety. And I’m worried.
The chances for anyone getting a tenure track job in philosophy are really small. No one knows for sure, but most people think about 10% of people on the philosophy job market in a given year get a tenure track job. Given that I have a family, I cannot do what many in my position do: a series of one-year positions in different locations while getting their CVs in better shape.
So I did get a tenure track offer this year. Only one, out of maybe 50 applications sent. In an absolutely desirable location, both in itself and because it is near family. For a higher-than-usual starting salary in philosophy. And I just turned it down. My advisor advised me to turn it down.
It was at a community college. I have absolutely no problem with a community college per se. However, the teaching load was absolutely nuts. There is no way I would get any research done. (Oddly, philosophers call their philosophy work “research,” although they are not usually researching anything. Do other humanities departments do this?) Not much leisure time to be with my family. And teaching the same course over and over.
My advisor’s thinking was this: if I don’t start publishing in the next couple of years, I can’t move to a better job. So I am stuck in a community college for life. And he thinks I have better prospects than that. It’s nice that he has faith in my abilities, which I certainly do not. My other job offer was for an adjunct position at a local reasonably respectable four-year university. It is for 1/4 the money (yes, literally 1/4) of the community college offer. It is, however, 1/2 the teaching load. So the idea is: turn down the high-paying tenure track community college, take the adjunct position, try to publish, and see if I can get a better job. So I did it.
I am also reasonably settled where I am. My kids are in great schools and have tons of friends. I would like to uproot them only if we are going somewhere we intend to stay a while. I love teaching, but when you have tons of students, it becomes a far more tedious job. I’m thinking of writing a book about my kid with special needs, and if I took this job, there’s no way I could.
I’m terrified. I may never get offered money for philosophy again. I hope I did the right thing.