Higher Education is in trouble, as more and more teachers hired are part-time only.
I recently started reading a book called Academically Adrift by Richard Arum . It details the rise of the university as a privately, and monetarily, driven enterprise whose focus on teaching undergraduate students appropriately has been upended dramatically.
What's more, the faculty landscape at universities across the country has shifted dramatically, and now more than 50% of teachers at 4 and 2 year universities are adjunct professors, also called part time professors. These adjunct professors often have many of the same responsibilities and duties as a full time professor, but they get paid less. Often adjunct professors are teaching at multiple universities at a time, just to make a living wage. This is but one of the many reasons Arum believes the higher education system is abysmally failing its acolytes.
According to Arum, the monolithic entity that is the US higher education system is lent intellectual and moral legitimacy because of the money it's able to accrue for itself and its investors and partners, and because of the research knowledge it brings in. In terms of effectively imparting critical thinking skills or a level of preparedness for joining the workforce, though, it falls short.
As a college student who is prepared to graduate soon, moreover as a frightened college student with no concrete plans, no "real" research experience beyond lab courses and my own independent studies, and hardly any idea of what I should be doing to secure my future, Arum's book and the things he brings to light in it definitely hit home. Indeed from what I've read so far Academically Adrift should hit home for many current college students, because what Arum describes is exactly what students have been experiencing first-hand for at least a decade now.
It's beyond frustrating to know that the thing you've been dreaming about for practically your entire semi-adult life (graduating with a degree in biology), is a goal that has gone from noble to run of the mill. More frustrating is to know that the institution that you look up to to aid in your educational growth is more concerned with the research dollars professors can bring in than breeding a sense of critical intelligence or appreciation for learning.Back to Blog