M.A. in ancient history

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by andrekuz, Apr 23, 2020.

  1. Vonnegut

    Vonnegut Active Member

    With only a couple of exceptions, almost every faculty member in my department retired from the private sector, realistically a millionaire, and now work for love at community college wages. It's doable and not every community college pays that little. Granted, even double those salaries is a far cry from solid compensation plans for engineering/engineering management positions. While I am far from retirement age, I was very fortunate to have earned a good living throughout my twenties and early thirties, and generally invested well. Making the corporate to education transition has been one of the most rewarding professional experiences of my life. Granted, I state that with a level of privilege, as it's entirely different ball game for faculty members of departments who typically were not able to embrace lucrative fields prior to full-time/tenure roles in education.
  2. Jonathan Whatley

    Jonathan Whatley Well-Known Member

    One reason is consistency and interoperability between different parts of Harvard University. There are a few parts to this.

    Harvard University Division of Continuing Education manages both Harvard Extension School and Harvard Summer School. A large subset of listed Harvard Extension School courses are from Harvard Summer School. Many HES students rely on Summer School courses as part of their degree plans, especially out-of-town students who complete their residency requirements during the Summer School's 3- or 7-week terms, for which on-campus housing is available. Many Extension School and Summer School courses are available for either undergraduate or graduate credit, where graduate students do some additional work, are graded differently, and pay higher tuition.

    At Harvard College, the university's competitive-entry traditional undergraduate division, courses are typically 4 sh. While Harvard College students don't typically take Harvard Extension School fall and winter courses, it is more common for Harvard College students to take Harvard Summer School courses. Interoperability of courses is important for them, and Harvard College is an important constituency within the university.
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  3. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly

    [thought better of it]
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  4. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Surely you cannot think that the circumstances you're describing are normal. It's true, to an extent, that business programs, for example, tend to attract retirees happy to work for the low wages. Frankly, we can all go do the thing we're teaching. But for the person with the M.A. in English, they don't have nearly the luxury.

    Not every but very many. Community colleges often find clever ways to pay people less or to tier faculty in ways that four year schools do not. At the first CC I taught at, you could teach indefinitely with a bachelors degree. You could not be promoted above "assistant professor," however. Have a Masters? Congratulations. Now you're an associate professor. You became a full professor once you were officially considered full time. What was full time? At most sensible schools this is based on courseload. There it was based on weekly hours that they randomly assigned. Over 36 and you were a professor. Under 36 and you were an assistant or an associate ( I think assistants were limited to no more than 20 hours). The result was many associates languishing at around 35 hours, essentially working the same full time week as their professor overlords but being paid around $15k less.

    It's not a lucrative field. And, as you note, at double the salaries (at my company, the entry level engineer pay is around $45k so let's not get crazy with how much engineers get paid) are still fairly low in the grand scheme and those are almost never seen outside of high cost of living areas.
  5. Vonnegut

    Vonnegut Active Member

    Fully acknowledge, it's a highly unusual circumstance, partly due to working in a very affluent retirement destination. Also acknowledge, it's generally unique to being in engineering disciplines. Not sure what industry you're in or your local market (not prying), but that is a fairly low entry level salary for an engineer with a bachelors degree. I spent my career in energy and automation, we had final year apprentices (with overtime) paying off social security, our engineering and technical talent (once they had some experience and real responsibility) were very well compensated.

    Certainly agree, it's not a lucrative field and the institutions that tend to pay more, certainly are in more higher cost of living areas. Elsewhere I've argued that this is one of the reasons that creates a challenge for diversity policies, for people who have degrees with more significant earning power, it often requires privilege to sacrifice that earning potential to work in education. Which at least in the engineering fields, tends to mean that we primarily see older retirees as adjuncts.
  6. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    I work for a Fortune 100 company that manufactures durable goods including industrial equipment and automotives. For local market, that's about right. Of course, it's also worth noting that most of our manufacturing facilities are in relatively low cost of living areas. That $45k is for a brand new engineer with no experience beyond possibly a summer co-op or two. With around two years of experience, one if they come with an M.Eng. from a school known to us to be a solid producer of quality engineers, you're looking at the low 50's. I'd be remiss as an HR person if I didn't also highlight for others, as I'm sure you're aware, that not all engineering disciplines pay equally. An electrical engineer commands a significantly higher salary than a manufacturing engineer. Though, on average, an engineer is likely making $75 - $85k with us. That goes up if you become a manager, of course, or if you begin working on highly specialized projects.

    But it's a broad industry. And employers like Lockheed, Boeing and Northrop Grumman have a tendency to skew the salary expectations of recently graduated engineers. An electrical engineer working on missile systems makes a lot more than one who works on pallet jacks. We have had many an engineer start with us and then bounce to those more lucrative positions. But, generally speaking, we attract a lot of people who want to make a good living in an area where they can most assuredly buy a home and rest easy knowing that they can likely remain in place for an entire career in the same town without being called upon to move all over the country (or sometimes the world) unless they really want to. Again, for defense contractors especially it is not uncommon for one of those very well paid engineers to have to move all about every few years. The higher salary often has demands beyond an individual's smarts.

    This is not to say that anyone's experience in the field is "wrong." It's just a very large field. For every Lockheed there are probably 10 smaller and far less glamorous jobs designing lower cost products.

    Oh for sure. For my colleague, the one who left the corporate world to become a professor at a CC, it's a remarkable privilege for a person to be able to take a nearly 80% pay cut because he has a house that's paid off and a spouse who is still commanding an enviable salary (she eventually followed his lead and dropped out of said corporate world to take on a much more modest paying non-profit job). Alternatively, it draws people with advanced degrees in less lucrative fields into a life of relative poverty. My college's favorite English lecturer, for example, works the sandwich counter at a Wegmans's when he's not teaching and it isn't just a way for him to get out of the house and meet people.

    I don't think everyone needs to make a fortune but I do wish a middle class salary were a greater possibility for many more people.

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