Educator and author Rob Jenkins offers advice
for building a strong community college career
ooking for a job in community colleges? Want to avoid
common, often costly mistakes in the interview and
application process? How about the latest insight into
who’s hiring and why?
These are just a few of the questions author and Georgia Perimeter
College English Professor Rob Jenkins attempts to address in his book, Building a
Career in America’s Community Colleges, a collection of essays that first appeared in
The Chronicle of Higher Education.
In an interview with Community College Times, Jenkins, who has spent most of
his 20-year college career serving community colleges, discusses several aspects of
working at today’s two-year colleges.
Below is an excerpt of that interview. Find it in its entirety at www.community
Are you seeing any trends in terms of applicants or who colleges look to hire?
One definite trend is that we’re seeing more and more Ph.D.s applying at two-year
schools. This, of course, also has to do with the tight academic job market. Some
research, for example, they assume
that the person either doesn’t understand the nature—specifically, the
teaching mission—of community
colleges or else is applying at a two-year
school only as a fall-back position, or
both. Community colleges are rarely
interested in hiring someone like that.
two-year schools are trying to take advantage of this
situation and actively recruit Ph.D.s, either in pursuit
of some elusive notion of “prestige” or because of what
I regard as a mistaken belief that someone with a doctorate is automatically a better teacher than someone
with “just a master’s.”
What are some common mistakes made by applicants
seeking work at a community college?
The biggest mistake academic job-hunters make is
failing to recognize the difference between applying at
a two-year school and applying at a research university.
When members of a community college search committee read a letter that talks mostly about the applicant’s
How has working at community colleges
changed over the past decade?
For a while there, it seemed like our
students were getting younger, that
the average age was much closer to 20
than to 30, as it has been in the past.
I took that as a sign that community
colleges are becoming more mainstream,
more of a viable alternative to four-
year schools for kids coming right out
of high school. I know that my college
and many others have worked hard to
market themselves in that way.