Scholars don’t need to be told that the modern university is in trouble and the academic job market is anemic. Sure – the modern university has had a great 200-year run. It sprang out of Protestant Germany and was cutting edge for its time. All the components of a functioning university – professors, students, libraries, seminars, and laboratories – were located in one place under central control. Multiple areas of study were housed within easy walking distance, an important factor when long-distance travel was expensive and dangerous.

But this model no longer makes sense in the age of free information so universities have evolved into providing a four-year “experience.” Many schools boast of gourmet-level cafeterias and suite-style rooms. One school even features a free five-course meal per week and a free ice cream truck. All this luxury comes with a hefty price tag. The costs of an average four-year education is over over $260,000.

Whenever administrators do cut costs, they typically do so at the expense of faculty, who are not part of the “experience.” Universities hire adjuncts instead of tenure-track instructors, because they rarely receive benefits, have no contract, and earn as little as $18,000 a year. More than 40% of teaching staff at universities are now adjuncts.

In this scenario, both students and scholars lose. Students get worse instruction because adjuncts who would otherwise be great professors lose motivation to teach. They often lack university support in the form of seminar funding, professional-development workshops, and course buyouts. Scholars struggle to get by on their meager salary. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported about adjuncts living on food stamps, with some earning as little as $900 of take-home pay per month.

That’s where we come in. Scholarpreneur believes that academic knowledge should be taken to the open market so academics can earn what they deserve. Here scholars can profit in ways unthinkable at a traditional university.

Margaret Hiley did this. She was once lecturer in literature in England but didn’t like the teaching restrictions, and arbitrary university procedures. As a native speaker of both English and German, she enjoyed translation, but couldn’t incorporate that into her regular job.

Then she had an epiphany – why not buck the university system and go completely freelance?

Margaret contacted all her old clients and university colleagues. She put up a website and took a course on self-employment. After a year of building up clientele, she quit her job as a lecturer. Margaret now has a near-endless number of projects from academic publishers and private scholars. She is able to charge £90 per 1000 words of translation from German to English and earns far more than she ever did at a university.

Kenny Mencher is another such scholar. He has had wild success with his online course “Art History: Renaissance to 20th” century.” He put it on Udemy, a web-based platform where experts upload video courses. Mencher charges $25 and has over 2,000 students – more than 10 times the number that could pack into a large introductory course. He earns far more than the $7,000 than an average Udemy instructor earns per course.

Other scholars are moving to self publishing. Long the realm of failed authors and conspiracy theorists, it has gained new legitimacy in the last five years as Amazon has opened its publishing platform to any author (the 70% royalty rate doesn’t hurt either).

Scholarpreneur believes that academics can thrive if they learn how to teach in a dynamic way and market it for the masses.

But how can you learn all these skills while working full time, teaching 6 courses, and grading for hundreds of students?

Instead of reading dozens of books, searching the Internet, or asking colleagues who often aren’t willing to help anyone…

Subscribe for free to Scholarpreneur. You will get proven strategies and tactics from highly successful scholars who are finding breakout success in the 21st century world of academia.

About Steve Cook

Steve CookScholarpreneur was founded by Steve Rank, Ph.D.

He is a publisher, podcaster, adjunct, online instructor, and entrepreneur. Before going down the academic road he worked as a journalist in Istanbul and reported on human rights issues.

After starting a successful online publishing business while doing his doctoral research, he is focusing on what he loves most: helping academics find ways to connect their knowledge with people who want to learn outside of the walls of a university.

He uses a blend of traditional teaching and Internet marketing to attract customers, sell products online, and build an audience that stays with him wherever he happens to be on the planet.

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