HIGHER ED FACULTY

Can Adjuncts Be Freelancers?

July 24, 2015 / Phil Lesch

The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 24th, 2015

In the months after I left teaching to blaze a trail as a “freelance academic,” I’ve been asked — and I’ve asked myself — a lot of complicated questions. Questions like: Does that term accurately describe what I’m trying to do? Can an adjunct who is still in the academy be a freelance academic, too? And is that adjunct then an employee or a freelancer? Those are all good questions. Let’s find out.
Is “freelance academic” the right term?
A reader emailed me recently to say that, while she found my ideas about my career transition to be generally strong, she did not like the term “freelance academic” at all. Oddly enough, she had no problem with the “academic” part but rather with “freelance.” She said in her email that the word freelance “carries connotations of inferiority and lack of expertise or proficiency.” It’s a word people use, she wrote, “because they simply could not obtain a full-time paying gig.”

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