Why Not Hire Your Own Adjunct? They Are Very Inexpensive

The cheeky blog Edububble offers a modest proposal: Since
college tuition is so high, why not skip the campus middleman and “hire
your own professor” as a private tutor?

You think you can’t afford that? You’re wrong. While it’s
true that hiring a $300,000-a-year academic superstar from Harvard would break
the bank for most students and their parents, the vast majority of college
instructors, many of whom boast doctoral degrees from prominent universities
just like the guy from Harvard, are willing to teach for as little as
$1,600-$3,000 per three-credit-hour semester-long course. They already do.

They’re known as “adjunct faculty.” As part-timers typically hired at
the last minute to meet classroom demand, they fill anywhere from one-quarter
of the teaching positions at private non-profit colleges to 70 percent of
teaching positions at community colleges to nearly 100 percent of teaching
positions at for-profit institutions. Bid up that amount by, say, $200 a
course, and voilà! You’ve got yourself your own personal prof! And he or she
has only you to teach, not a classroom stuffed with 30 or so students of
varying abilities generating 30 or so quizzes and papers to grade laboriously
every week.

Edububble writes: “You’re thinking that you can’t just hire a professor because
you would have to pay for health insurance and give them an office. Wrong! Most
adjuncts don’t get either.”

Edubble links (via a Feb. 6 story in the Chronicle
of Higher Education
) to data about part-time faculty pay, benefits, and
working conditions compiled by Josh
, a writing instructor at the University of Georgia and author of the
blog Cut and Paste. The data, collected via crowd-sourcing on a spreadsheet
titled “The Adjunct Project,”
are duly dismal. An anonymous
communications instructor at Moraine Valley Community College in suburban
Chicago reports making only $700 per course. At an Oregon campus of the for-profit
University of Phoenix the pay per course is $1,464; at the non-profit College
of Central Florida, it’s $1,600. Those are low-ball figures. But even the
typical per-course adjunct salary–in the $3,000 range with no
benefits–certainly beats paying tuition at a fancy private college, if you do
the math. The standard load of eight undergraduate courses per academic year
would set you back $24,000, far less than the nearly $40,000 in tuition that
the priciest universities charge. And you’d have that professor all to

This raises the question, of course, of exactly what
colleges do with all the extra money they generate when they staff a class of
30 or even 15 tuition-paying students with a $3,000 adjunct. And chances are
that every college student, even at the most exclusive institutions, will be
taught by at least one adjunct at some point. Freshman writing courses,
mandatory at nearly every college, are almost the exclusive province of
part-time instructors paid by the course and often exhausted and distracted
from driving from teaching gig to teaching gig so as to piece together a
marginal living. They’d probably much rather be working for you–the equivalent
of being an executive chef instead of a short-order cook. So why not hire your
own professor? All we need to do is to figure out how you can get college
credit for the arrangement.

Charlotte Allen

Charlotte Allen blogs for the Los Angeles Times and writes frequently about cultural trends for the Weekly Standard.

4 thoughts on “Why Not Hire Your Own Adjunct? They Are Very Inexpensive

  1. This information is exactly how I plan to implement the REACH program for the youth and their parents who are willing to start their children in higher education earlier than later.
    If the adjunct professor is hired to teach a private course, who will validate the college credit for the students? Certainly the adjunct professor doesn’t have accreditation ability?

  2. Yes, the other commenter has it right! Lets say you got 10 people together. Pay the prof $10,000 to teach the 1 course! That is only $1000 per person, or $8000 for an entire year (8 courses)! You could get an entire 4 year degree for $24,000 and the profs make a very good living to boot. You could meet at some community center space for very little money. Now that is a REAL DISRUPTION to the system. No more bloated administrative bull-sh*t. No more speech codes. No more fancy gyms. Just bare bones real education at a reasonable price. Somebody needs to do this!

  3. Touche!
    Form a club with friends, say 12, to share the cost. Print up a course list, have every grade signed by the instructor, and we’ve got the equivalent of a college degree.
    Maintain minimal quality by imposing a minimum SAT standard and hiring only PhD’s. Advertise the club with the names of the universities at which the faculty earned their PhD’s.
    Shouldn’t be impossible in some metropolitan areas, what with social media and all. If any body needs a part-time manager, cheap, let me know.

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