Aaron Barlow the executive editor of Academe Magazine, and an English professor at New York City College of Technology, wrote a blog post encouraging tenured faculty members to consider their adjunct professors as equals instead of “others,” and then to stand with them to “help make their work situations livable and financially viable.” Sounds reasonable!
At Dissent, Moshe Z. Marvit’s interview with lawyer and adjunct organizer Dan Kovalik is a must-read. Kovalik represented Margaret Mary Vojtko, the adjunct professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Penn. who died in poverty after working as an adjunct for 25 years. In his interview with Marvit, he talks about Vojtko’s life, how universities keep adjuncts down, and what he’s trying to do about it. (“It had always been my perception that going into the academy would be a great life. You would get a good salary; you would get benefits; you would get the benefit where your kids could go to school for free there or at a reduced rate. Adjuncts don’t get that. I’ve come to learn that 75 percent of all faculty around the country are adjuncts. It’s this kind of dirty secret of the academy. Meanwhile there are just a few at the top who are doing well. It looks a lot more like the corporate world than like nonprofit education.”)
I am contemplating quitting my job on the following rationale: “If I fail my classes, I will have wasted the money I spent on tuition, regardless of how much of those costs I recuperate through my part-time work.” I haven’t been unemployed since I was 14, so I am slightly terrified of taking the leap. I live at home and also have $11,000 in savings I could live off for the next year—but I was hoping that by working I could keep that for a down payment for a house. Advice? — A.
At Jacobin, two members of Strike Debt, Ann Larson and Michael Checque, argue that “Pay It Forward, Pay It Back” is a the “neoliberal solution” with lots of problems to figure out, and what we should really be fighting for is free education for all with no strings attached.
If you watched college football on Saturday, perhaps you noticed the some players from University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and Northwestern were sporting wristbands with “APU” on them. That stands for “All Players United”, and the wristbands represent the first televised protest by NCAA football players. The players are protesting the NCAA’s failure to adequately address the risk of traumatic head injuries and current policy that allows the cancellation of scholarships following injury. Josh Eidelson spoke to Ramogi Huma, the founder of the National College Players Association:
After decades of scattered discontent, why is the first-of-its-kind on-camera protest happening now? “I think the environment is a lot different than it was in the ‘90s,” Huma told Salon. He cited increasing criticism of the NCAA from figures in media, sports and politics, as well as the NCAA’s historic high revenues: “The money has skyrocketed, and that visibly increases the disparity [between] what the players are generating and the gaps in protection they face.”
Reading this story about college students at the University of Toronto bribing fellow students with cash so that they can enroll in a full class takes me back to my college days when you just had to show up to to class you wanted if it was full and hope that another student dropped it so you could take her place. From what I could tell, no bribing ever took place, though I imagine it would have been pretty effective.
If you are a student from a low-income or middle class family who dreams about going to an elite college like Harvard or Wellesley, how do you know if you’ll be able to afford it? Those families are likely to pay less than the sticker price, but how much less? According to Economix, Wellesley has taken the steps to help those students and families get a sense of what they might have to pay by putting together a college cost calculator that asks questions like how much equity parents have in their homes, their annual incomes, and the amount of money they have in savings and retirement. The one major flaw: The calculator only shows how much the parents are expected to pay, and not the amount of loans the student may have to take out as part of her aid package.
Somewhat related to my previous post: Last week, Payscale released its rankings of colleges and universities based on the average earnings of its graduates (prestige, it seems, matters, since top rated research universities and Ivy League schools are found at the top.
What kind of job are you going to get with a liberal arts degree? It’s a question a lot of parents ask their college-aged kids, especially if they’re the ones paying for college. And it’s a fair question to ask! Getting a good college education and expanding your intellectual horizons is important, but so is getting a job, and there’s no reason why those two things should compete with one another, as Susan Dominus’s story in The New York Times Magazine showed this weekend.
When I was in high school, my parents encouraged me to apply to every scholarship I was eligible for, and the ones I did get were from small organizations, like the Asian American Scholarship Fund. If I had known about a scholarship for young “Magic: The Gathering” players, I would have been all over it.
At the Washington Post, Dylan Matthews has been writing a series called “The Tuition is Too Damn High” (his previous columns are conveniently listed in a box) and yesterday, he looked at how updating facilities to lure students with deep pockets may be contributing to the rising cost of college. Of course, this kind of argument has been made time and again, but at least Matthews considers some data this time around.
Thomas Frank’s essay on the downfall of the university system is a fun (“fun”) read and ties together a lot of the changes happening at universities in a fun (“fun”) way: “Just about everyone in academia believes that they were the smartest kid in their class, the one with the good grades and the awesome test scores. They believe, by definition, that they are where they are because they deserve it. They’re the best. So tenured faculty find it easy to dismiss the de-professionalization of their field as the whining of second-raters who can’t make the grade. Too many of the adjuncts themselves, meanwhile, find it difficult to blame the system as they apply fruitlessly for another tenure-track position or race across town to their second or third teaching job—maybe they just don’t have what it takes after all. Then again, they will all be together, assuredly, as they sink finally into the briny deep.”
Former independent college-applications counselor Lacy Crawford has a novel out a la Nanny Diaries or The Devil Wears Prada about her experience getting hired by wealthy parents to help their children get into Ivy League schools. She talked to the Post about her experience—don’t miss the anecdote at the end.
At HASTAC, Cathy Davidson, a professor at Duke University, has a great post about What We Talk About When We Talk About Why College Costs So Much.