It doesn’t not occur to most college-bound students to ask the simple questions, “who will teach me at college?”
Nearly everyone assumes – certainly a reasonable assumption – the teachers at college will be fully tenured, college professors. Or, at least, graduate students on their way to becoming college professors.
But we can no longer make that assumption.
If you have read The New College Guide: How to Get In, Get Out, and Get a Job, you will know that one of the questions you should ask before you apply to any college or university is who teaches first year students. Are the instructors full-time, tenured faculty, or are they adjunct teachers or graduate assistants?
According to a recent report, the majority of professors are now adjuncts, teaching part-time in several schools. They are often given little advance notice of what course they will be teaching. They may not even have an office or office hours, making it difficult for a first year student to get advice outside of the classroom.
There are many excellent adjunct professors and graduate teaching assistants. But I do not believe that they are the best instructors for first-year students.
Schools that use adjuncts do so to save money. The interests of the students, in my opinion, are secondary to the monetary benefit of using part-time instructors. Adjunct faculty cannot provide the same kind of educational experience and academic advising provided by a full-time professor.
I believe the classroom professor is the most important factor in student success, especially in the first year.
The best schools in the country put their best teachers in first-year classrooms. Be certain you know who teaches first-year courses before turning in your application.