Deciding upon a career path in the San Francisco Bay Area can be both challenging and exciting. Amongst the most respected positions an individual can pursue is a career in higher education.
While competition can be fierce among open teaching positions, an educator can play an important role for countless numbers of students in personal development and building their own pathway to career success.
Jeremy Ball, Professor of Philosophy at the College of San Mateo, offers valuable insight on the benefits and rewards of pursuing a career in higher education.
What is your current position and background?
“I am a philosophy professor at the College of San Mateo. I earned a BA in Philosophy at UC Irvine and a PhD in Philosophy at Claremont Graduate University. Like most people in higher education today, I spent about 10 years working as a part-time or adjunct professor teaching at an array of different colleges and universities, often traveling to multiple campuses to teach on the same day. I eventually got a tenure-track position at CSM. I decided to teach at the community college level for various reasons. It appealed to me because it seemed to be a place where one could really make a difference in people’s lives – many community college students are wavering in their commitment to their education and good teaching might have a strong impact on them. Also, the extreme diversity of skill levels you find in a typical community college classroom makes teaching at this level exceptionally challenging. As a result, trying to find ways to reach all of the students and help them get a bit further in their educational journey is exciting and fulfilling. There is little fame and glory that comes from being a community college professor, but the intrinsic rewards are unmatched.”
What are the job prospects for individuals interested in entering your field of study?
“In general, teaching is a fulfilling field to go into. You won’t get rich. But, if you can get a position, the work itself is very rewarding. There can be a high level of job security and you constantly learn new things. You also get a fair amount of time off. For K-12 educators, I believe there are many opportunities for aspiring teachers, especially for people who can teach math and the sciences. Higher jobs are much more difficult to get and depend on your area of expertise. If you would like to teach part-time as an adjunct professor, the market is much better.”
Can you offer any advice to graduating students or job seekers?
“Getting a teaching job in higher education can be a long, difficult process. If you aren’t committed to your academic discipline and doing research, you might want to consider something else. But, if it is important to you to do something with your life that makes a difference or if you want to change people’s lives and make the world a better place, teaching is a great option and very rewarding.”
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.