It’s tough being an Unemployed Professor. First, you’re a professor, so you automatically have bad hair, worse clothes, terrible taste in music, a family to support, and, most likely, an impressive pile of student loans to pay off. Second, you’re unemployed, so your ivory tower is basically a tattered cardboard box under a campus bridge. And third, you get a lot of hate when you decide to take the corporate approach to the university to its logical conclusion because you need to pay your bills. Well, haters gonna hate. Last year’s article by Nadine Kalinauskas is one such example of the animosity heaped onto us Unemployed Professors.
The article describes the effect of this site by claiming it diminishes the value of a university degree, asserting that our plucky little start-up is singlehandedly diminishing the incredible, life-changing value of a four-year degree. This prospect is laughable, considering we are applying our devalued postgraduate university degrees to do one of the few things we are really, really good at (e.g., writing and researching). The university system has already failed us professors. Truly, the world seems shocked by the power of the pen (or keyboard, or stylus, or whatever the kids are paying us to use these days).
But for the moment, let’s ignore the plight of the professoriate; today, let’s look at the students. Other writers have described the types of students who have used similar services. Let’s think about this. Is the North American university pocketing tens of thousands of dollars for the foreign student with no English skills not devaluing its own degrees? What about the university whose students are forced to complete meaningless busywork to fulfill breadth requirements? What about the university supporting “students” on sports teams who are shuffled into what I will politely call lightweight majors, who have an army of personal tutors and other attendants essentially or literally doing their work for them? Is the university truly helping the token first generation admits, who have no idea how to function in a college or university setting and are left to drift, alone?
Thanks for the credit, Nadine, but we are simply humble Unemployed Professors, not wizards. If we could value and devalue things with our magisterial essay writing skills, we would be applying those skills to the stock market, not universities.
As an Official Unemployed Professor, I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen the tears and sweat pouring off late-night messages from students whose professors won’t answer their questions or meet with them. I’ve squinted in befuddlement at unnecessarily complicated, poorly written instructions for assignments and term papers that required things like 10 secondary sources in a 3 page paper that also meaningfully discusses two novels. I’ve tried to make sense of feedback on papers that consisted entirely of check marks and inscrutable squiggles. I’ve helped students write emails to deans so they could contest grades and complain about professors who never came to office hours. I have been asked to read, critique and edit a student’s term paper before submission; these students take their work seriously and in the process, they learn to be better writers. It is wrong to surmise that I create papers and that the student simply delivers the final work; the process is usually extremely beneficial to the student. If used as intended, Unemployed Professors offers students the chance of having a mentor that actually shows up and truly cares!
The problem is not entirely with us. The problem is not entirely with the students who request our services (and, for the record, these students also agree to abide by our terms and conditions). The problem is not even entirely with the Gainfully Employed Professors. If anything, we Unemployed Professors should be celebrated for our ingenuity, entrepreneurial spirit, and ability to monetize our skills. If we are going to live in a society that values profit and only profit, then we need to acknowledge and prize all institutions that turn a profit. That includes both universities and service industries that are ancillary to the university, like late-night pizza delivery, laundry services, used textbook exchanges, outline banks, or Unemployed Professors.
Demonizing the Unemployed Professors is not the solution. Removing the profit motive from education is. Since that will never happen, we remain in an incredibly competitive educational and professional context – and our site prides itself on helping students remain on the playing field of a highly corrupt system. By providing model, sample assignments, we help students obtain the credential they need to compete in today’s world– just like test prep classes, just like tutors, just like study aids.
If you’re a student, consider how we might help you (we offer a wide variety of student writing services that goes beyond providing model assignments). If you’re an administrator of a university, consider what you’re doing to ensure that we exist. And if you’re someone looking to point fingers, look at the larger context we all live in.