The unfortunate universal history of American university education is — on the undergraduate level at least — students remain a bit dumber than their instructors from generation to generation. I include my early undergraduate experience in that wash.
The result is a cheapening of the shared social mind as students wish for straight “A” grades while their in-class performance rarely rises to the “B” level. Students will press professors and the administration for grades they feel they deserve even if they did not earn them because they were raised in the self-esteem generation where their parents taught them they are special merely for being born.
They are never expected to earn what they need. “Deeds over talk” strike no difference for that generation of student. These students have been trained by their parents to rebel against authority, to challenge any perceived threat to their forward advancement and to always move up the chain as the squeaky wheel in need of greasing. You can recognize these students in the real world because they always demand to speak to a manager or a higher-up when they are immediately displeased with their current station. This complain instead of perform mantra is especially evident on the private school level where four years for a degree can cost a student over $250,000.
For some public school students a debt load can top $50,000 and that amount is just as crushing for them as their private school peers. When that kind of money is spent on schooling, students demand universities bend to their wishes and many times the unfortunate end result is grade inflation where a university sells its future and its historic performance by rewarding average students with above average grades in order to placate the horrifying reality of the massive amount debt enlistment required to buy the degree. At many universities the hammers brought in to bring grade inflation under control are adjuncts. Adjuncts are fleeting. Adjuncts — against their wishes and by design — have no stake in the long term viability of a university.
Adjuncts are expendable.
I have been a university adjunct for a decade. Adjuncts teach because they enjoy the interaction with students. Adjuncts are not there for the money. Many adjuncts make less than $2,000 per course. Adjuncts generally care more about their students day-to-day than the regular teaching staff who must also worry about service and publication in addition to teaching if they want to stay long term.
Those who already have tenure rarely see a class with undergraduates. I advise my better students to seek out the contract teachers and adjuncts because they teach for the love of the event and not for the want of money or station and while the classes may be harder and the expectations set higher, the reward, in the end, will be a better long-term ability to retain the information and their grades will be hard-won and have deeper meaning beyond the student loan debt load. Unfortunately, few students can afford to purchase that advice.