An Antidote to Part-Time Professors

In my last blog I talked about studies that illustrate the potential dangers of college students attending classes with part-time instructors.

Students can suffer because adjunct professors often don’t have office hours. Once classes are over the teachers split. Often they are off to the next campus to teach elsewhere. In a school with an overwhelming number of adjunct faculty, the full-time professors tend to slack off. They often maintain fewer office hours and don’t put as much effort into their class presentation.

It’s a grim situation and with the economy the way it is, it’s only going to get worse.

So what can be done to help students, who tend to drop out in greater numbers when there is a predominance of part-timers?

Find a tutor.

Ironically, while full professors are in dwindling supply, free one-on-one tutoring is available at campuses across the country. It’s a no brainer for a student to sign up whether he or she is struggling in organic chemistry, economics or any imaginable subject. Lots of schools also have writing centers where staffers can help students improve their essays and reports. Many times the tutors are students in a particular major such as biology or math, who have excelled in their subjects.

These tutors aren’t just for the kids who are struggling. During a college tour with my son recently at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, we were talking with the physics chairman and she mentioned that even “A” students in physics made use of tutors at her school. These kids simply want to make sure they continued to understand the material. The tutors were an academic backstop.

My daughter Caitlin, who is a sophomore at Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA, used a tutor in her freshman year when she took calculus. She signed up as soon as the class started because she was worried she might fall behind since she hadn’t taken calculus in high school. The tutor was incredibly helpful and she ended up getting an “A-” in the class.

The problem with college tutoring programs is that too few students take advantage of them!

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution.

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