Sunday, November 15, 2009

applying to a SLAC

Having spent part of today reading the first pile of applications for an Assistant Professor post at SLAC, I'm feeling pretty good about the applications I sent in two years ago. I'm a little surprised by what people send in; a few of them I not only won't suggest for this job, but I really want to chastise them for wasting our time and their postage. Some things I just assumed were common knowledge when applying to a small college:

- Don't refer to the school as the "University"
- Don't tell us how the success of your research depends upon graduate student labor
- Don't send us only a portion of the materials that we asked you for

And then there are the more nuanced things that I was looking for, but rarely saw:

- Is your research doable with the resources SLAC can provide? And if not, how will you deal with that problem?
- How does your research make use of/involve/teach undergraduates?
- How does your previous experience relate to what you would do here? Teaching experience is great, but if it was all at the graduate level I want to know how that translates. What could you teach that we currently offer, or are missing?
- Why are you interested in a SLAC, specifically?

I know a lot of these are just people throwing their previously prepared materials into a new envelope, and I understand to some extent why people do that. But if you aren't going to take the four minutes to actually stick in our SLAC's name and say something about undergrads, you're wasting your time. I'm by no means an expert at this, but even I can see how ridiculous some of these apps are. Lots of people also seem to have great research backgrounds, but say nothing about applying that at a small school or bringing it into their teaching. They should spend more time on the teaching statement; too much research without an equivalently strong teaching philosophy makes me think that they don't really want to be at a SLAC.

More to come - I'm sure there will be more gems in the next pile.


PUI prof said...

o, YES!

Great article... we recently went through a search at Small Religious U, and we got some doozies (but we are a University). Moreover, we had a lot of great candidates who didn't know that our university had strong ties to the church, and therefore were interested in their faith statements, too.

There are tons of SLACs out there that were started by a church, but aren't really religious anymore, so that's not a good comparison.

We even had a dean at an R01 apply. Scratched our head about that and didn't ask for a follow up.

Liberal Arts Lady said...

PUI, I guess I should have said something like, "Don't call us a Uni unless we are one!" Good point.

That's something I never really considered - how bad is it to not reference faith at a religious school? What about willingness to teach but lack of interest in religion? I guess it all goes together.

We have some Associate Profs applying - definitely a bit confusing. Though no Deans yet!