I knew all of this, but the only adjunct position I've ever had paid anomalously well and it was a special situation--I was covering one semester for a teacher who knew me and arranged everything behind the scenes; I wouldn't have been hired if they'd opened a job search. It was a good situation for me. Still, I didn't get paid for weekly studio classes, which were required (and for which non-voice teachers did get paid), I didn't get paid for office hours, or extra lessons, or for helping the students in any way beyond the two hours per week I was required to spend with them.
I bring this up because I got an offer last week that was appalling in its meagerness. It was not the offer that had been discussed or that I was expecting, so naturally the first thing I did was go back and say "this is not in any way acceptable" and we got it sorted out (I wasn't supposed to get an "adjunct" offer in the first place). But it sure did open my eyes to the shoddy way in which adjuncts are generally compensated. I'm talking $425 a week for teaching a class and having a full studio. I'm talking $16 per lesson, with no distinction made between hour lessons and half hour lessons.
To put this in perspective for those of you who don't offer services like teaching, coaching, whatever with an hourly rate: I charge $45 an hour for private students, $25 for a half hour--and I am on the low side of the lesson fee scale. At my music school job I have to charge more, just so I can clear $35 an hour, so those students pay more for lessons. Another thing you need to know is that if you teach voice lessons 40 hours a week you will lose your mind. Most colleges and universities consider 20 hours to be a full teaching load, depending on your classroom teaching responsibilities.
And the sad thing is, as one of my friends pointed out, there are plenty of people who would have accepted the offer I got, no questions asked, just to have more higher ed resume credits, just to teach, just to have a job, even though you can't support yourself very well on that pay. Believe me, I know people get by with less every day, and advanced degrees are less and less frequently an indicator of any kind of economic upward mobility. But let's just say it ain't what I signed up for.
For much much more on adjunct teaching, try the Chronicle of Higher Ed, starting with these excerpts from a survey of Chicago-area adjuncts:
The hours required to properly prepare, teach, and interact with students outside of the class room make the per-hour wage less than minimum wage.But you need a postgraduate degree to be able to do it.