One way to see that this country is screwed up is to realize that an adjunct professorship doesn’t even pay minimum wage. In other words, a lot of college professors are on food stamps.
This article is not about the handful of mega-celebrity professors who earn millions from speaking gigs or business ventures.
We are talking about adjunct professors (not ‘assistant’ or ‘full’ professors) who teach a single college course for one to three grand per semester per course, with no benefits at all. It’s not unusual for such a professor to earn less than they would earn at the minimum wage (I calculate $7.50/hr x 40 hrs/wk x 50 wks/ year = $15,000. Obviously people who have adjunct or minimum wage jobs will earn varying number of hours per week, and varying number of weeks, so this is just a single comparison pont)
Don’t forget that the adjunct prof probably has an enormous student debt to pay off, too.
With no benefits – no medical, no dental, no paid vacations, yet expected to work endless hours developing an original course, from scratch, holding office hours and so on, and making up and grading all the assignments. Yes, it’s nice to be on a campus, and many college students are great people to be around (they don’t go around assaulting their teachers, which sometimes happens in high-poverty schools). But it certainly isn’t what was essentially promised to people who worked really hard in school, did every single assignment and aced them all, probably took and passed a whole bunch of Advanced Placement courses in high school, graduated from college, and then most likely went on to earn a Masters or Doctorate in whatever field they chose to specialize in.
No, these are not ne’er-do-wells and layabouts or people who just plain were stupid, or simply committed crimes, didn’t learn anything in school, or never learned to follow the rules. No, these are the young people that the promise was, “Work hard, be nice, and you’ll have a wonderful and comfortable life when you grow up!”
The article is here, and it’s definitely worth reading or at least skimming.
(I’m glad I decided against trying to be a college professor like my dad* It’s a lot different now than when he taught history at American U and Hood College in the 1950s – 1980s. There are SOOO many young folks today with marvelous educations who can’t find any work that is befitting their advanced education.
Not just in Egypt or Syria or Russia or Philippines or India or sub-Saharan Africa is there a huge surplus of “over”-educated young people doing work that they are amazingly overqualified for, if they can find jobs at all.
It’s in the US, too. I have relatives tending bar who graduated from top colleges; perhaps earning more than an adjunct college professor. I used to coach MathCounts teams here in DC for over 20 years when I taught JHS/MS math, so I got to know some kids who were really, really, really good at math and who also loved it. A few of them are, in fact, in some sort of science-technology-engineering-math field, but I was very surprised at the number who weren’t doing anything of the sort, even though I had been told for years that we had an enormous STEM-grad shortage.
No wonder a lot of students don’t try hard in school and don’t care if they graduate or even attend class. They probably see the pitiful state of many folks who really did try to follow all the rules in school, did all the work, graduated, went to college, and for what? To graduate with a mountain of debt that cannot be discharged, and still to be working for essentially minimum wage.
Really makes you wonder….
*[nor to be a lawyer or engineer like my two grand-dads or an artist like my mom and grand-moms, but that's another story]