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Author Topic: How to leave an overseas diploma mill  (Read 9831 times)
professor808
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« on: February 16, 2012, 10:21:26 AM »

If you leave College instruction for High School teaching can you ever return to teaching college? 

Iím teaching at an overseas CC on a 2yr VISA.  This is my first FT teaching job.  The school is a horrible, glorified diploma mill.  I think it's damaging my teaching career to be there. 

There arenít many local College-level teaching openings in my specialty.  However, native English speakers are highly prized, especially in secondary schools.  It could buy me time as look for a legitimate CC opening locally. 

Is this a one-way move? 

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snowbound
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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2012, 11:11:38 AM »

Overseas?  Can you be more precise?  You are asking about how colleges in your locality would view a prospective applicant who has moved from college to HS teaching, but you haven't told us what that locality is.  "Overseas" is a pretty darn broad category.  Most of us are based in the US and could talk about how US institutions view HS teaching and diploma mills, but that wouldn't be very relevant for you, would it? 
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professor808
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« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2012, 12:44:42 PM »

Sorry if my vague description irritated you, but I'm worried about identifying myself by revealing location.  There's only a handful of universities out here, and foreigners are even smaller.  Unlike the US, I can't take a job in a nearby state.  And I'm restricted by VISA issues.  Feedback from the US experience would be relevant, if imperfect.  I feel professionally isolated, this forum has been a big help. 
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larryc
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« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2012, 1:15:47 PM »

I understand you desire for anonymity, but it does make it harder to give advice.

Where do you want to end up, in the long term? Back in the U.S.? Or at a better school in the country where you are now? Or...?
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clean
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« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2012, 6:24:59 PM »

To thine own self be true.

If it is a diploma mill and you think that it is hurting your reputation/ethics to be there, then leave.  If you are stuck in that country, then perhaps HS is a better deal for you all around.  In many countries teachers are highly valued.  English is a desired skill and in many Asian countries, I understand that there are significant opportunities to earn a substantial wage tutoring.  Further, I understand that in many areas, the cost of living is very low.

If you do not need to stay, then start making connections with the area that you would prefer to be and see what you can find.  As you said, you think that being where you are is already hurting your reputation.

Good luck
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professor808
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« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2012, 10:27:46 AM »

Thanks for the replies.   @larryc  and others who asked about my goals: 

I can't see coming back to the US anytime soon, if ever.  I met somebody out here, and she's a keeper, and I like my new home. 

Ideally I'd like to teach my specialty at a legit college locally.  I actually had a good 1st interview at a really good place.  Fingers crossed.

Another option is to return to industry. Clients from the US still call me about projects.  VISA issues restrict me from freelancing (although I'm finding ways around this). 

But work/life balance is important to me. I left industry for relief from constant 12-16hr days.  But now I've got a 5/8/6/6 load, all unique preps. 

Sounds like I should leave, I'm not learning anything about teaching at my Diploma Mill, I just scramble to catch up. At least in a good HS, I could hone my teaching craft and maybe bring that back to a CC.  But I'm still concerned about teaching HS being a one-way ticket out of teaching college. 

What would you guys think of a teacher who breaks a CC contract to teach HS or English, and now wants back into a CC?  Would you buy the story about a diploma mill?  Assume it's the US.  Where I'm at is similar enough. 


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clean
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« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2012, 12:36:07 PM »

breaking a contract is bad.  If this is in any way a culture that is based on "who you know" then you dont want them to tell the future employer that you wont stay.
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snowbound
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« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2012, 2:23:10 PM »

And you won't score any brownie points at an interview by deriding your previous employer as a "diploma mill."  There's diplomatic ways to talk about it not being as good a fit for you as the college you're applying at, but badmouthing a current or past employer at an interview is a major no-no.   
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larryc
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« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2012, 2:53:26 PM »

It sounds to me like you should what you need to do to keep from getting fired at the diploma mill while you use every spare moment to look for other jobs. In the US going from a CC to a high school might or might not be a one-way door out of academia, depending on your field and ultimate academic goals. So it is really hard for us to make any guess what the situation in your location might be.

As for breaking a contract--how long is your contract for? I would not leave int he middle of an academic year, but if you gave notice and left over the summer with them having time to replace you I don't think you'd be burning any bridges and it would all look very normal on your work history. At least in the U.S.
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professor808
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« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2012, 1:35:47 AM »

Thanks for the additional replies. 
I've come off as an irresponsible person.  To clarify: 
- I use "diploma mill" in the forums only.
- In interviews, I use "not a good fit," etc, etc.   
- I would only leave during a semester break.  (They don't have summer breaks)
- I keep my mouth shut and don't make waves at work.
- I actually got a good performance review.
- My boss seems to like me, but I think he’s smelling my unhappiness. 
- I am using spare time to find work and have some good leads. 

Quote
you dont want them to tell the future employer that you wont stay
@clean: This is my dilemma/trap.  No matter how unacceptable the conditions, unless you're asked to do something illegal, you effectively have to honor a contract.  It’s hard to know where to draw the line.

I've got about 6 months, 2 semesters left on my contract.  I can probably suffer through it.  But it seems finishing my contract will leave me just as bad off as breaking it.

I don't feel like I can talk to the administrators in a reasonable manner.  My school puts me through a ridiculous workload, 6-8 classes is double the normal workload from what I see.  They're also having me teach subjects I have never claimed expertise in.  When I asked for help with teaching materials they told me to search the web for free sites or go to the public library.   "You're smart, you're the senior guy here, etc. etc." 

I can refuse to teach the 'extra' classes, or do them poorly and get a bad performance review/eval, etc.  I don't like the idea of spinning my wheels for another six months doing borderline unethical and mediocre sub-standard work.  Doesn't seem much better than leaving at the next semester break for a freelance project.  My old clients (who keep hinting about work) that have far better name recognition than this lousy school. 

Seems like a lot of sacrifice just to fulfill some vague sense of honor. 
« Last Edit: February 18, 2012, 1:43:35 AM by professor808 » Logged
larryc
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« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2012, 3:06:50 AM »

When your contract is up do you have to leave the country?
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clean
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« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2012, 7:15:02 AM »

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I can refuse to teach the 'extra' classes

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double the normal workload from what I see.  They're also having me teach subjects I have never claimed expertise in

This would need to stop.  If you are not qualified to teach college level classes in these areas, is there some other authority to quote or appeal to?  In the US if you are not qualified to teach a topic the school endangers it regional accreditation (SACS for instance).  Otherwise, could you suggest that the students are not well served?

Is this a for profit place?

Do you think that they are taking advantage of you because you are foreign? 

If you are being coerced to teach 'extra' classes, especially those outside your area, that may be a reason that you could expand to future employers. 
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professor808
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« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2012, 8:36:43 AM »

Quote
When your contract is up do you have to leave the country?
Strictly speaking, yes.  But it seems like there's many ways around this, and its not too difficult.  I'm investigating. 

Quote
Do you think that they are taking advantage of you because you are foreign? 
Its hard to say.  I think its a combination of having white faces on their brochures but also just a factory view of education and employees that might come from the native culture. 

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Is this a for profit place?
How'd you guess?

Quote
If you are not qualified to teach college level classes in these areas, is there some other authority to quote or appeal to?
Since this is arts/humanities, expertise and qualification is not a cut-and-dried matter like medicine.  The school is taking advantage of my diverse experience to have me teach their entire curriculum.  I don't know exactly what authority I could appeal to, but I suspect it'd be a losing battle, and a waste of time. 
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clean
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« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2012, 8:59:30 AM »

I worked at a for profit before I went to PhD school.  I was in the classroom 38 hours a week. 

There is no sin to get out of there.  High school is better. 

Im not saying that they dont care about the students, Im sure that they do, but they dont really care about you!  You are a cog in the machine.  If you plan to stay in that country, will working there be a plus or a minus?  You have plenty of teaching experience.  However, your primary advantage may not be your formal education but your native language.  Perhaps that is what you should be selling.

Can you make a living tutoring English? 

If you have a degree in something like US History, then I can see that you would have a problem finding employment.  Are you qualified to teach at a higher level than CC? 

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professor808
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« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2012, 1:59:36 AM »

@clean:  Wow, 38hrs.   Sounds like my future (and past)  They don't care about me, that's for sure.  Good to know high school is better. 

I have an MFA from one of the best schools in my field.  I have lots of real-world experience related to my MFA at prominent places, too.  However, there not nearly the same industry for it out here like there was in the States. 

I could probably tutor/teach English plus freelance.  I'm just not sure how to deal with the VISA issues. But I'm figuring it out.   High school seems like a different world, teaching-wise, so I'll have to investigate.  Thanks. 
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