Turned down adjunct job due to pay

Discussion in 'Online & DL Teaching' started by jam937, Feb 4, 2014.

  1. jam937

    jam937 New Member

    I had an offer for an online adjunct job from a RA school teaching a mid-level IT course. It paid $1500 for an 11-12 week course with 20+ students. The school said it would require 10-20 hours per week of my time for one course. That comes out to $6.80-$13.60 per hour.

    I like teaching and don't expect to get paid anywhere near what I make in IT, but I just can't get myself to take a $8-10 per hour job.

    I hope there are better paying teaching jobs.
  2. Phdtobe

    Phdtobe Well-Known Member

    I never understood the infatuation with online adjunct jobs. What is more depressing is that people will spend $60-$100k for a phd just to get on online adjunct job. Students are being short change because adjuncts do not have time for students. Adjuncts are too busy trying to make a living elsewhere. Online adjunct jobs should be like Walmart's greeter job - for retirees.

    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    I agree that it is not worth it; however, for my situation I might take it because I have 3 toddlers. This job can help me saving lot of money for daycare. :)
  4. wmcdonald

    wmcdonald Member

    If you are seeking an adjunct teaching gig for the money, you are barking up the wrong tree. There are 50 others who will jump at the opportunity you just passed up, though so we will make it without you. But, if you want a really rewarding experience.......the kind that many of us get from the interaction with those wonderful people we call students, then by all means it is a great thing to do. I hope you re-think this a bit and give it a shot. I often find a full timer from the adjunct ranks, and this may be a path into the academy if that is what you seek. But even then, you may be disappointed. I recently had a couple of former students who teach adjunct for me who applied for a full time, tenure-track position. Both were finalists, and ranked 1 and 2. The first turned it down due to the salary cut from her current position (-20K) and there was a similar response from the second, only her cut was more substantial. She really would have come, but her husband talked her out of it, saying they could not afford the cut. What neither understood, but do now, is the academic life. Both were 9-month gigs (versus the 50-60+ hours/week they currently work), and also had opportunities for evening contracts, and summer classes. We also have some consulting opportunities, and continuing education.

    I bore you with all of this to temper your obvious disappointment. If academia is where your long-term goal is, go for it. I did, after a very successful first career and I would never look back. Yes, adjunct pay is low. You have no input but it will allow you to test these waters a bit and see if it really what you want in a career. It was for me, and I love it more every day. Go for it next time, and I bet in the long run you will learn from the experience and enjoy it.

    Good luck!
  5. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    I don't disagree. Though I've only taught as an adjunct at a CC on the ground, it paid the same amount. For me, bing a homeschool mom was my job- the adjunct was a combo of a big of extra $ and some time out of the house. Certainly not a top career aspiration, more like a filler for the time being.
    EDIT: I forgot to add, that in our CC, the door to full time teaching was always through adjunct teaching. Not sure if it works that way where you applied, but it might have been a foot in the door. Also, that 10-20 hours depends on YOU. As you get more experienced, it takes less time to do some things- like navigate, write quizzes, grade tests, upload a syllabus, etc.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2014
  6. jhp

    jhp Member

    I would further extend that indeed it is not a financial panacea.

    On the other hand, it is my retirement plan. It will be, just as wmcdonald alluded to, a final or terminal career. It will provide me with my take-two-in-the-morning benefits, sufficient mental stimulation and wheel chair access for my sunset years. All that and discounted slop on campus, adoration of young'uns, and adult pool time if I drive my chariot in from my cave. I will probably die and fall face forward onto a Bunsen burner as I was about to demonstrate something beautiful. It will be a hoot (well more likely a sizzle, as skin.. never mind).

    Yes. It is a comprehensive retirement plan.
  7. jam937

    jam937 New Member

    I enjoy teaching a lot more than my current job which is why I do it. As I stated in my first post I fully understand the pay is low (supply vs demand). I have just never seen it this low. So far I have taught for 3 different colleges over the last 2 years and all three paid double the hourly rate as this one. Either double pay for same hours or same pay for half the hours.

    I don't know if it was my pride or feeling someone was taking advantage of me, but I just couldn't stomach taking the job. I guess as long as this is just a hobby for me I have the luxury to be selective.
  8. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    A dean at Keiser University said that she was stunned to receive over 200 applications for one online graduate-level teaching position.
  9. Phdtobe

    Phdtobe Well-Known Member

    If you already have busy fulltime jobs, then it is unfair to students for you to accept adjunct positions. Online students are suffering because of the lack of quality feedback from adjuncts. Online adjuncts are so underpaid and tired from their fulltime positions that they can't give their full attention to students. I see this all the time.
  10. jam937

    jam937 New Member

    I agree that a dedicated, full-time instructor is likely to do a better job on average. They are paid double that of adjuncts and have more time available per class they teach. I feel I do a good job, but there's no doubt I could do better if I had a full-time position. Unfortunately colleges arn't hiring many full-time instructors. What's the answer? Maybe the accrediting bodies should set some quota's on the percent of adjuncts a college can have.

  11. jam937

    jam937 New Member

    Strayer defines full-time faculty as teaching 4 classes per quarter for Winter, Spring and Fall quarters. This is 12 classes per year with summer vacations.
    Faculty Teaching Requirements | Careers

    A full-time professor makes around $58,000 plus benefits. This equates to approximately $5,100 per class when you incude benefits.
    Strayer University Salaries | Glassdoor

    I heard adjuncts get $2,300 per class. Less than half for teaching the same classes.
  12. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    This is what is normally expected but in reality people spend more like 5 to 10 hrs a week. I have worked as a faculty manager for an online school and was shocked to see how many instructors just give As to every student with almost no feedback.
    In few words, many instructors just give As to every single student in order to cut their marking time. Not ethical but it happens as many instructors make a living as an adjunct.

    Believe it or not, many people teach from 5 to 10 courses per term. Some people make a living as an online adjunct so you need to be creative and cut your time.

    However, things are getting tough in the industry due to massive supply of PhD holders. For instance, salaries have been the same for the last 10 years. Many schools have frozen salaries while others have actually decreased salaries.

    The other problem is increasing demands. At one school where I adjunct, the new policy is to look at research when assigning courses. This means that if you don't publish, eventually will not get any work. Other schools require you to chase after students that do not work as this means possible loses in revenue to the school.

    In few words, it doesn't look like things will improve in the industry, the over supply of doctorates and the ability to outsource the work to cheaper countries puts too much pressure on the adjuncts.

    It looks like a great freelance career but I wouldn't count on it for the long term, there is a massive production of low tier doctorates from for profit schools that have little possibilities to get tenure track positions so they become adjuncts and cheap labor at the same time. As the supply keeps increasing, I don't see how the present conditions would improve in the short term.

    For the school, it is a great business model, I charge you 60K to become a PhD and then hire you back at 1K per course. The model is a great revenue generator for the school but not sustainable, at some point people will realize that there is no point to get an online PhD from an online school and schools will start losing students.
  13. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    AACSB in a way does this. The accreditation body requires faculty to contribute with research. Adjuncts do not contribute to research so you couldn't run a schools with adjuncts and get AACSB accreditation. However, some online schools are now trying to put pressure on adjuncts to publish or they will eventually lose their jobs, the schools figure that getting AACSB accreditation is very difficult for an online school that runs mainly with adjuncts but they figure that they might be able to get it if they force adjuncts to publish just to keep getting work.

    For profits complain that they are losing money so they need to keep putting more pressure on adjuncts in order to improve profits but the reality is that some of these salaries are touching bottom and not worth doing for people with a high level of education. Some people with PhDs are figuring that is just better to drive a taxi than trying to keep up with the demands on the online teaching industry.
  14. graymatter

    graymatter Member

    Lots of reflections here. I'm now an on-campus mental health professional and part-time faculty (6 credit hours per semester). I facilitated 43 online classes last year. I NEVER gave all As and I ALWAYS give lots of feedback. I only have 1 employer (out of 7) that pays under $1400 per course ($1000 for 8 students for 5 weeks).

    I didn't pay $60k for my PhD (more like $30k and I paid cash).

    Lots of generalities in this thread that - at least for me - are inaccurate.

    If I was offered a position similar to the one described in the OP, I'd turn it down. Again.
  15. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    As I mentioned, 60K is the regular price of an online PhD from an online institution nowadays such as UoP, NCU, etc. If you do a sample of faculty at online school,many have degrees from online institutions.

    I am not saying that all instructors give As, but if you are teaching 6 to 10 classes a term, there is a tendency to relax grades to save time. I haven't done a study to back this up but it just makes sense as one couldn't put 20 hrs a week per class if you are teaching 10 classes.

    There are institutions that pay 3K or even 10K per course but normally they have controls to make sure that you spend the 20 hrs a week per course. You couldn't fool these schools with just As for all students. Schools that pay low, tend to be less strict as they know their instructors are getting paid peanuts.
  16. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    Onion skins

    My online educational experiences are similar to your above-described reflections. I also only paid 10k for a for-profit, regionally accredited, 100% online doctorate. The 10k was recouped very quickly.

    No offense is intended against RFvalve, but he appears to have an extremely negative "the sky is falling" disposition, tinged with cynicism and fear, concerning his online educational issues (on so many different levels).
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2014
  17. truckie270

    truckie270 New Member

    I have to agree with me again on this. I do not think RFValve has ever posted a positive response on this and related posts on online adjuncting. My experience varies greatly from the stock characterization of making McDonald's wages or being better off driving a taxi.

    I paid less than $15K total for my RA Doctorate from a state-school. I have made over $75K each year for the last five years teaching online. A few years ago I cracked $100K, but decided to cut back because the extra was just going to taxes and taking away from my family. That is in addition to my "day job" that pays extremely well. Online teaching is all about time management and economy of scale - those who excel at these tasks will do well, even with low-paying courses (which should be seen as a mechanism to get into higher paying gigs and not an end in themselves).

    I am a very hard grader and give my students so much attention they wish I would spend less time in the classroom. I have stacks of positive student evaluations to support this. In my experience, the more a school pays you the less they are looking over your shoulder and monitoring your classroom activities.

    I have never spent the amount of time per week in a classroom that a school has indicated I would. I have never been pressured to give As for the sake of student retention. I have never even had an inkling that my work would be outsourced off shore. I have never had course assignments contingent upon my outside scholarly activities.

    RFValve - I know your experiences differ, but you make sweeping generalizations about a whole industry based off your perceptions.

    As to the original post - it is incumbent upon anyone looking to get into this work to evaluate the cost/benefit. You cannot use pay per course as an accurate assessment - you need to break it down even further to dollar per student per week. I can make more money teaching 5-6 week courses with 6 students for $1200 than I can teaching 30 students for 16 weeks for $3500 and spend considerably less time doing it. The OPs declined course offer was extremely low-ball and should have been rejected - but I am sure someone working at McDonalds or driving a taxi somewhere would jump on it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2014
  18. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Adjuncting Brick and Mortar

    Some years ago, I had the opportunity to teach a series of paralegal science classes for community colleges in Santa Fe and Southern New Mexico. They paid me about $3,000 for a three semester hour course. My students were ALWAYS punctual, their homework was ALWAYS turned in on time...and they were all men.

    See, these institutions weren't exactly brick-and-mortar. More like concrete and steel. Lots and lots of concrete, steel, and guards. They were state penitentiaries and my students were "in for the long haul" as it were.

    It was a wonderful experience and if the program still functioned, I'd love to do it again.
  19. jam937

    jam937 New Member

    When I taught on campus courses with 24 students in an 11 week course I spent 8-10 hours per week. I would expect an on-line version of the same course to take the same or less time. Certainly not more time. Look at Strayer which requires full-time faculty (on-line or campus) to teach 4 classes at a time. That's 10 hours per week per course assuming a 40 hour work week. I think to say 10-20 hours per class is normally expected is just not accurate. That would mean a full-time instructor only teaches 2 classes per quarter?

    I try to determine the total number of hours a class will require factoring in number of students, term length, office hours, live class events, etc. Then I calculate an hourly rate and it has to meet a certain number for me.
  20. Jodokk

    Jodokk Member

    For what it's worth...

    Hmmm, well, I do have to say that my MFA in Creative Writing was a pretty expensive degree for what it is, but I have certainly earned every dime back. My Masters in Psych was much less expensive.
    I set a goal in 1999, after reading Dr. Bear's book, to earn my degrees, and to teach online. I spent 9 years gaining credentials which were varied enough to allow me to teach across disciplines.
    I now now teach for six schools, all online. For the most part, my employers are dedicated to student success in learning the content, even if the school makes a profit. I understand that this is not always the case.
    I work some long hours, but I am substantive with all of my discussions, live seminars, and feedback. I make well over $100,000 a year. I take plenty of time off to go upstairs and spend time with my two-year-old and my wife. I never miss an event or function because I had to travel to the campus and lecture, or attend some pointlessly-required division meeting for which I had no reason to be there. I work in my PJs, and listen to my favorite music while I do so. None of my classes were cancelled during the recent snow. This was my dream and goal, and I have been lucky enough to have achieved it.
    Sorry, but teaching online is quite wonderful for me. It isn't for everyone.

    I could not have ever done it without this website, and Dr, Bear in particular.

    When I see folks unhappy with teaching online, I can only guess that they are teaching for the wrong schools. That would seem to be a lack of research before the search process. I don't know.

    I like it very much.



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