Community Colleges are responsible for teaching up to 70% of the college population, and even before the economic recession, they were struggling to make ends meet. Lower state funds has equaled drastic measures to cut cost while simultaneously raising tuition rates.
One of the biggest cuts public colleges have made is in staff, trading full time, full benefit professors with part time teachers who work for lower wages and no benefits at all. While this may have significant positive impact on the college’s bottom line, you have to ask yourself if the cost to students is worth the monetary gain.
Part time instructors are paid a paltry salary, many times approximately $3000 per course, and in case you didn’t know a course spans nearly three months. Most will have to keep a second part-time job just to afford basic necessities. This means as soon as a class is over they are headed straight for their car, no office or one on one time for students.
If all that were not bad enough, factor in the fact they often find out which class they are teaching a couple weeks or a few days before the course is slated to begin. Of course, with so little notice there is no time to adequately prepare.
None of the above is a good scenario for a community college, but the people who are really paying the price are students. Public colleges are attended by disadvantaged youths who are often behind academically, which means they need access to remedial classes, tutoring or one on one interaction with professors. Imagine a first-time student experiencing an instructor who is barely there for the lecture and speeds off campus as soon as humanly possible. How much could they possibly learn?
What will it take to improve education on campus? For starters, there needs to be a good screening process, a mentoring program and other incentives for part timers to become “invested” in the institution. This will, of course, take money and the sooner college officials figure this out the better for both students and new instructors.
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