Tag Archives: alt-ac; M.A. English

Alt-Ac: You Don't Have to be a Professor to Work at a University

By Cathy Day, Assistant Chair of English

On Tuesday, September 27th at 6:30 PM in 104 Bracken, we’re hosting our second Stars to Steer By session. The title of this one is “You Don’t Have to be a Professor to Work at a University.” RSVP if you’re coming! 

Why this title? 

I’ve been teaching in higher education for over 20 years, and all too often, I hear students say things like this:

“I want to do what you do. Teach college. I love English. I love reading and writing. I love my professors. They are my role models, and I want to do what they do. I want to stay in school forever.”

This is exactly what I wanted in 1991 when I decided to go to graduate school in English/Creative Writing instead of entering a tough, post-recession job market. When I graduated in 1995, I went on the academic job market. First I got a two-year “contract” position and then a tenure-track teaching position. I’ve been in academia ever since.

But the academic job market in the humanities has changed. You can read all about it.

This does NOT mean you should give up your dream. I am not a dream squasher!

But I do want you to consider following that dream, but from a slightly different direction.

The Alt-Ac Route

I pursued an academic teaching career because, to me, a college campus is a small utopia and because my college professors changed my life. To thank them for that, I wanted to follow in their footsteps. But since becoming the Assistant Chair, I’ve realized that teaching is NOT the only way to live in that utopia and NOT the only way to change the lives of college students.

Maybe you should consider the Alt-Ac Route.

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Alumna Jennifer Banning On Her M.A. and Her Successful Job Search in Higher Education

My life path, in terms of finding a career, has certainly been a winding one. I first graduated from Ball State in 2010, when I received my B.A. in Anthropology and History with a minor in French. During the following year, which I spent working with elementary-aged students, I learned quite a bit about myselflike the fact that although I enjoyed teaching and working with students, I missed higher education and interacting with both college-aged students and faculty.

Upon entering the M.A. program in English at Ball State, I had vague ideas about getting a teaching license in secondary education, but was mostly just interested in further developing my writing and research skills through creative writing and literature courses. As my graduation date of December 14, 2013 loomed nearer and nearer, I began to think more seriously about what, exactly, I ought to do for a career. I took stock of my interests: reading and writing, collaborating with students and faculty, soaking up the atmosphere of working in a college or university. I decided to look into administrative faculty positionsparticularly those in academic advising.

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