Un-hired Ed: the growing adjunct crisis

How our best and brightest can work tirelessly for 8 years only to receive food stamps, debt, and no career.

  • Tenure track professor ($120,000 avg) vs.
  • Adjunct ‘professor' ($20,000 avg.)

Only one out of ten PhD's get the job they studied 8.2 years on avg. for

  • With 140,000 doctorates awarded last year [4]
  • And only 16,000 new professorship openings listed.
    • Leaving adjunct positions to swell to %76 of college faculties[10]
  • Your chances by subject have declined
    • English: -%41.4
    • Math: -%40
    • Sociology: -%35
    • Political Science: -%39
  • Your wages have declined
    • From $53 an hour
    • To an avg of$8.90 an hour
    • [For 20k/56/40 and 120k/56/40]

And that's the best possible scenario. With 4 in 5 adjuncts making less than $20k yearly

  • Probable Adjunct Experience
    • Teaching two classes= $900 a month
    • $750=rent
    • $35 per week on gas (you live away from campus where housing in cheaper)
    • =10$
      • And foodstamps

This has led to the number of Masters and PhD holders on food stamps tripling in three years.

  • Rising to 360,000 masters holders
  • And 30,000 PhD holders

Adjuncts make 50% less than secretaries, but it's not all about the money. It's also about quality of life.

  • Adjunct vs. Secretary
  • No job security vs. great job security.
  • $45k in debt vs. didn't need to pay a cent
  • No insurance vs. full benifits
  • Pending loss of hours from the Affordable Care Act vs. 40 hours a week
    • [fines employers with 50+ part time employees working over 30 hours]

Why do they do it?

Sunk costs: involves the increased investment (time, money, future) in a path that is not lucrative just because one has previously invested in the path.


  • Social (peer pressure)
  • Psychological (gambling)
  • Project (past commitment)
  • Structural (cultural and environmental factors)

Foot in the door technique: tactic involving getting one to agree to a large request by first making a smaller related request. What does this mean? (bigger picture)

Adjuncts are keeping the system afloat, and work in indentured servitude

States are spending $16 billion less on public colleges than in 2008. That's $2,353 less per student.[9]

Flagship University systems like California are reducing funding by 29.3%[11]

Leading to (in CA) 4,200 fired staff members[11] 9,500 positions unfilled[11] And the elimination of 180 programs [11]

And that's only possible because they're charging 70% more in tuition [11]

While undergradute matriculation has skyrocketed. Leaving adjuncts with harder jobs than the tenure track positions they dreamt of in grad school.

There are 5.7 million more college students than there were 10 years ago. A 45% increase in full time students.[11] While tenure track positions have only increased 28% in 32 years.

(from 1975-2007)[12]

Matriculation and tuition are on the rise. Yet the value of an education clearly IS NOT. Support humane treatment of educators.


  1. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505145_162-57468913/12-reasons-not-to-get-a-phd/
  2. http://www.concordmonitor.com/home/5659486-95/editorial-for-adjunct-professors-a-hard-job-about-to-get-harder
  3. http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0815.pdf
  4. http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=72
  5. http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/do-college-professors-work-enough/
  6. http://www.finaid.org/loans/
  7. http://www1.salary.com/Secretary-I-Salary.html
  8. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/04/20134119156459616.html
  9. http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3927
  10. http://inplainsight.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/09/17658326-meet-your-new-professor-transient-poorly-paid?lite
  11. http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=98
  12. http://aquadoc.typepad.com/waterwired/2012/08/post.html