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  1. #1
    Kizmet is offline Moderator
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    Academic Poverty

    underpaid university teachers

    Life in academic poverty as an underpaid university teacher: “They just don
    American College of Sports Medicine

  2. #2
    SteveFoerster is offline Resident Gadfly
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    If at first glance you saw "Salon", "AlterNet", and "sociology ", and figured you already had a good sense of how the article would go... you're right.
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  3. #3
    Johann is offline Registered User
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    Maybe the impoverished academics could learn to be football coaches instead. The article mentioned their salaries go up to $7 million a year.

    J.

  4. #4
    cookderosa is online now Resident Chef
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    so how long before this post devolves into how a good/resourceful adjunct can earn 100k if they hustle?

    A unicorn can earn 100k, but everyone else is averaging $2700 a class.

    To be honest, I love adjunct work, and I don't mind the pay- it's a supplement to our family's income and has great flexibility. If I walk away from a semester for some reason, it's there when I get back. I don't have to be on committees, attend in-service faculty development, attend meetings, and a host of other things that the full timers get to deal with. I don't have to have office hours (though I understand some adjunct do) and I don't have to be on campus unless I have class. I think it's great- for this stage of my life.

    If $2700 is the national average, and 16 weeks is the average semester, you're looking about about $165 per week per section. Basic math tells me that to earn 45k per year - also the average- I'd have to teach at least 16 sections in a year. I find that number unlikely for most people unless they teach at more than one college or work in a very in-demand department like English or remedial Math/Read/Writing. Complaining about the pay and the scope of the job just means you haven't done your homework about the occupation.

    Part time work in ALMOST EVERY FIELD isn't going to provide a reliable income, benefits, or a good wage- it just doesn't. That's the case across the board. The issue, to me, is that academics think they're "special" because they've got more education and as such are worth more. It's a special kind of arrogance.

    If I had a master's degree in dish-washing, that doesn't make me worth more than minimum wage. It makes me an idiot.

    EDIT to add: I think that sounded insulting, which isn't my intent. I'll soften it to say that if people use part time work for what it is, they'll be much happier in the end.
    Last edited by cookderosa; 09-26-2016 at 01:56 AM.
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  5. #5
    TomE is offline Registered User
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    Articles like this have been growing in frequency in recent times (I seem to recall a few that have highlighted a movement to make $5000 per course the standard adjunct pay) and I can see both sides of the argument.

    I personally think that there are a number of ways with a bit of work and, as some would say, "hustle" to not only find more positions, but also positions that pay more and offer more optimal working conditions. However, the situation as it is can be a bit disheartening when looking not just at the salaries of university executives (as the article pointed out), but by looking at the exponential growth of administrative and "support" positions at universities. So much funding is going into creating all types of positions that never existed 10 years ago, yet alone 50 years ago. For institutions that claim (ha) to be strapped for cash to pay adjuncts look no further than at the "Assistant to the Associate Coordinator for Communications and Marketing for the Blake Dorm second-year Housing Complex (West Campus)"

  6. #6
    jonlevy is offline Registered User
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    It beats working at Walmart but just barely and no benefits.

  7. #7
    Phdtobe is offline Registered User
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    I think it is now common knowledge that adjuncting with no other source of income means living below the poverty line. Adjuncting to supplement income is perfectly fine, especially in retirement. My guess many will find adjuncting in retirement as achieving self-actualization or felling a sense of fulfillment with ones life.

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  9. #8
    Life Long Learning is offline Registered User
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    Well said!

    Quote Originally Posted by cookderosa View Post
    Part time work in ALMOST EVERY FIELD isn't going to provide a reliable income, benefits, or a good wage- it just doesn't. That's the case across the board. The issue, to me, is that academics think they're "special" because they've got more education and as such are worth more. It's a special kind of arrogance.

    If I had a master's degree in dish-washing, that doesn't make me worth more than minimum wage. It makes me an idiot.

    EDIT to add: I think that sounded insulting, which isn't my intent. I'll soften it to say that if people use part time work for what it is, they'll be much happier in the end.

  10. #9
    TomE is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phdtobe View Post
    I think it is now common knowledge that adjuncting with no other source of income means living below the poverty line. Adjuncting to supplement income is perfectly fine, especially in retirement. My guess many will find adjuncting in retirement as achieving self-actualization or felling a sense of fulfillment with ones life.
    I guess it depends on what you mean by "adjuncting". Yes, teaching a single adjunct course would definitely result in living below the poverty line, assuming no other source of income exists. However, at some institutions, one could teach as few as 3 courses over the course of the year to exceed the poverty threshold (using U.S. Census Bureau numbers).

  11. #10
    edowave is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by cookderosa View Post
    If I had a master's degree in dish-washing, that doesn't make me worth more than minimum wage. It makes me an idiot.

    EDIT to add: I think that sounded insulting, which isn't my intent. I'll soften it to say that if people use part time work for what it is, they'll be much happier in the end.
    As a former dish-washer, apology accepted. ;)

    Actually thinking back to what I made at my last dish-washing gig, when you factor in it was under the table, and included tips and free food, I probably made made a little more than what I was offered to adjunct a local CC course. And I didn't have to grade a bunch of papers, or email students at all hours of the day or night!
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  12. #11
    cookderosa is online now Resident Chef
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    Quote Originally Posted by edowave View Post
    As a former dish-washer, apology accepted. ;)

    Actually thinking back to what I made at my last dish-washing gig, when you factor in it was under the table, and included tips and free food, I probably made made a little more than what I was offered to adjunct a local CC course. And I didn't have to grade a bunch of papers, or email students at all hours of the day or night!
    Hubby and I both worked as dishwashers before attending culinary school, my 18 year old does now as well, so there's lots of suds love here. Still, my point was the holding the credential isn't the same as what the market wants/requires/needs.

    Not to throw gas on the fire, but as much as people want to criticize the MD/DO licensed doctors, the tight reigns they've kept on the flow of doctors into the community have kept the demand high, competition stiff, and salaries strong.
    Universities? Clearly, there are just too many kittens to choose from. The universities can choose what they want, which is from an abundant applicant pool of people willing to work for a few thousand a year without benefits.
    Jennifer
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  13. #12
    jonlevy is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomE View Post
    I guess it depends on what you mean by "adjuncting". Yes, teaching a single adjunct course would definitely result in living below the poverty line, assuming no other source of income exists. However, at some institutions, one could teach as few as 3 courses over the course of the year to exceed the poverty threshold (using U.S. Census Bureau numbers).
    PhD's take 5-6 years minimum, living just above the poverty, does that sounds fair to you?

  14. #13
    Life Long Learning is offline Registered User
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    100% true!

    Quote Originally Posted by cookderosa View Post
    Still, my point was the holding the credential isn't the same as what the market wants/requires/needs..

  15. #14
    cookderosa is online now Resident Chef
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonlevy View Post
    PhD's take 5-6 years minimum, living just above the poverty, does that sounds fair to you?
    I don't understand the question. (I know you asked TomE) but I'm confused about your word choice "fair" and I'm not sure what you are challenging about fairness.
    I used the dictionary just to be sure, but which kind of fair are we talking about?

    1. free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice:
    a fair decision; a fair judge.

    2. legitimately sought, pursued, done, given, etc.; proper under the rules:
    a fair fight.

    3. moderately large; ample:
    a fair income.

    4. neither excellent nor poor; moderately or tolerably good:
    fair health.

    5. marked by favoring conditions; likely; promising:
    in a fair way to succeed.
    Jennifer
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  17. #15
    SteveFoerster is offline Resident Gadfly
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonlevy View Post
    PhD's take 5-6 years minimum, living just above the poverty, does that sounds fair to you?
    I see three possibilities:

    1. The person was forced to go the PhD route against their will, in which case, no, that's not fair.

    2. They did their homework in advance and knew low pay was a possible outcome, in which case they made their choice and yes, that is fair.

    3. They didn't do their homework, in which case they're responsible for the consequences of that negligence, and yes, that too is fair.

    tl;dr: Things can both be fair yet also suck.
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  18. #16
    novadar is offline Registered User
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    Found this gem in the article

    "Almost every lecturer I interview tells me about students who excelled in their classes and now work as waiters, movers, even strippers"

    Makes me think of that lively thread on the main forum. lol.
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