Tuesday, June 07, 2005
College education -- at a premium: Sunday's Union-Tribune had a very interesting article focusing on Eric Kyner, a guy with a M.A. in Economics who makes a six figure salary as a private tutor at UCSD.
Kyner teaches 30 upper-division economics courses each quarter. He estimates he's taught thousands of UCSD students over the past five years, charging $10 per 90-minute session.
Three years ago, Kyner was escorted off UCSD's La Jolla campus by university police for running his underground tutoring service out of a classroom. Today, business is booming in a cramped room in a Point Loma office building. Dozens of students say they are seeking the private tutoring to cope with demanding work schedules, intense classroom competition and what many describe as ineffective teaching by UCSD faculty.
Many UCSD professors discourage their students from attending Kyner's courses, contending they are being spoon-fed test answers and homework solutions rather than taking the time to master complex concepts.
Still, many of Kyner's students say his clear, nurturing teaching style is a welcome antidote to what they often encounter on campus: Professors who barely speak English, give disorganized lectures and dedicate themselves to research, not teaching.
"They may be brilliant people, but they don't take the time to explain things, and they don't understand that we're undergrads and we're not at that level yet," said Nina Kapoor, a UCSD honor student who has spent $375 attending Kyner's sessions this year. "I can say with confidence that the Econ Tutor has helped fill in where UCSD has failed, and I owe a great deal of my success to him."
I must confess that this was one of the reasons that I was a little wary of attending UCSD those many years ago. At Cal Poly, I can only remember a handful of classes I took that had more than 100 students. The complaint that UCSD professors may be more interested in research than teaching probably has some truth to it. The professoriate's outrage at people providing an obviously needed service is troubling.
Unfortunately, that's the way some major universities work nowadays -- all the more reason for making informed decisions when you're deciding where to send your kids to college.