Academic Poverty

Discussion in 'Online & DL Teaching' started by Kizmet, Sep 25, 2016.

  1. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

  2. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    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.
  3. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Maybe the impoverished academics could learn to be football coaches instead. The article mentioned their salaries go up to $7 million a year.

  4. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    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" :tapedshut: 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 a moderator: Sep 26, 2016
  5. TomE

    TomE New Member

    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. jonlevy

    jonlevy Active Member

    It beats working at Walmart but just barely and no benefits.
  7. Phdtobe

    Phdtobe Well-Known Member

    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.
  8. Life Long Learning

    Life Long Learning Active Member

    Well said!

  9. TomE

    TomE New Member

    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).
  10. edowave

    edowave Active Member

    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!
  11. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    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.
  12. jonlevy

    jonlevy Active Member

    PhD's take 5-6 years minimum, living just above the poverty, does that sounds fair to you?
  13. Life Long Learning

    Life Long Learning Active Member

    100% true!

  14. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    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.
  15. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    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.
  16. novadar

    novadar Member

  17. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    oh crap. How about strippers, waiters, and EVEN movers?
  18. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    I have never been in a PhD program and probably never will but I have been a full-time student who also worked part-time, full-time in the Summer. I lived in a little apartment and had roommates who shared costs. I had an old vehicle and no real luxuries. I didn't eat at restaurants or go to movies. I never went on vacation to the seashore. If I needed to get my car fixed (or something like that) I usually had to deprive myself of something else in order to come up with the money. I was probably living pretty close to "the poverty line" at that time but I don't remember being particularly unhappy. I knew people who had more than me, typically it was due to their parents helping them. But that didn't bother me much. There are always people who have more, especially in this country. It just didn't bother me too much. Maybe because I was young and had that kind of optimism and flexibility. Maybe because I knew it wouldn't last forever. But I didn't think of it in terms of fairness.
  19. TomE

    TomE New Member

    Well, the 5-6 year minimum is news to me (possibly if you are taking into account going straight into a doctoral program after undergraduate studies) and I certainly didn't live a poverty-stricken life since I took advantage of worker-provided subsidies that my employer (and numerous employers and "systems" around the country provide...have a look!) offered, covering tuition costs and allowing me to continue employment while working on my degree. Sure it was REALLY busy, but I was still eating pretty well!

    However, if we're going to go down the route of what is "fair" or not, I think we're going to come up with 100 different answers. To someone who dropped $100k on an Ivy League PhD and is adjuncting at a couple of schools a career, I think the mental and financial components would have a different effect than someone who spent 3 or 4 years at a mid-range university, didn't take one any debt, and prefers the freedom that adjuncting can offer them.

    To answer your question, it probably sounds fair to some (including me), but I'm sure that it does not sound fair to others.
  20. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    As my Economics 101 instructor remarked on the first day of class, the problem is that "fair" means "I like it" and "unfair" means "I don't like it", nothing more.

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