Angela Glotfelter is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She earned her PhD and M.A. in Composition and Rhetoric from Miami University. While completing her advanced degree programs, she taught classes as a graduate assistant, worked at the Howe Center for Writing Excellence, and played a key role in Miami’s innovative Portfolio Writing Program. Learn about her Career Path below.
How did you reach your current position?
After graduating from York College of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Professional Writing, I began to pursue my master’s degree at Miami University in 2015. I chose Miami for a number of reasons: good placement rates, faculty that could support my research, teaching opportunities in my areas of interest, and opportunities to gain administrative experience. Once I completed my M.A. in 2017, I was accepted into the Composition and Rhetoric PhD program. Upon the successful defense of my dissertation, I accepted a position at the University of Alabama in Huntsville as an Assistant Professor of English.
While a Miami graduate student, I played many roles in the Howe Center for Writing Excellence that helped me gain experience, including working as a Project Manager for the Miami Writing Institute. In addition, I worked on writing-related faculty development with faculty across the university as the Writing Across the Curriculum Program’s Graduate Assistant Director. I directed and organized the process of accessing portfolios that admitted students send into Miami’s Portfolio Writing Program. This program is really unique, not a lot of schools have it. Admitted students send in a portfolio of their high-school writing to be evaluated by a team of experienced first-year writing instructors. If their writing meets the standards for the program, students can get credit for first-year writing.
How did Miami University set you up for success in your career?
I was set up for success by the faculty that supported my professional development—people like Tim Lockridge, Elizabeth Wardle, Michele Simmons, and Madelyn Detloff. The faculty and graduate students at Miami are doing important work.
What is your best piece of career advice for current college students interested in pursuing an advanced degree?
Here are four key things to do when picking a graduate program in 2023:
- Evaluate financial packages. Millennials and Gen Z own much less wealth than Boomers did by the time they were our age (Federal Reserve, Household Wealth since 1989). This means we will have significant financial struggles to contend with while in graduate school, such as loans, health insurance, and cost of living. A lot of graduate stipends put graduate students below the federal poverty line (2023 Federal Poverty Guidelines), and not much is offered in terms of health insurance. You should evaluate the stipend and benefits, like health insurance, rigorously at the graduate schools you get offers from. You can negotiate for a better stipend, benefits, and potentially tuition remission. If you got a better offer from somewhere else, leverage it at your preferred school.
- Evaluate how much money you want to make and the job placement rates for your program. There is a perception that faculty in higher education make bank. This is simply not true. I received an offer of $56k for a tenure track position while I was on the job market, and it is common to be offered much less. It is also getting harder to get a tenure track job, which have the highest benefits and salaries at institutions. Today, over 40% of teachers in higher education are part-time or adjunct teachers (NCES, 2023) who are making less than $3,500 for each class they teach (Flaherty, 2020). On that salary, teaching five courses (the highest number possible for most people in a semester) would net you $17,500. Ask faculty in the program you are considering for complete data on placement rates for recent graduates. If they don’t have those rates, or if a lot of their placements are in “adjunct” or “instructor” positions, consider whether you are willing to take on the financial strain.
- Explore support for diversity. Even though graduate education is one of the most progressive places you can be, especially if you are someone who is marginalized, you should explore how welcoming and supportive the program is of diverse candidates. You could ask for data on explicit financial support, but you can also ask questions about the demographics of students in the program, the demographics of faculty, and how individual faculty mentor diverse students.
- Gauge the support for your career. Getting an academic job is extremely competitive and difficult. You should ask questions like: How much funding will I have to travel to conferences? What options do I have for teaching different classes to build my Curriculum Vitae (CV)? What opportunities are there to do administrative work? How do you help graduate students learn how to publish in their area of interest?
Do you want to learn even more about attending graduate or professional school? The Graduate School at Miami University is hosting a Graduate Education Resource Fair on Tuesday, April 4 from 12:30 to 4 p.m. in the Armstrong Student Center. The Mini Graduate School Fair will feature a selection of its master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs. Sample breakout workshops include “What is Graduate School: Is it for me?,” “How to Pay for Graduate School,” and “Graduate Student Panel: What I wish I knew.” Registration is strongly encouraged.