Too much emphasis in education is placed on degrees meant to indicate levels of excellence. Institutions love degrees for what they imply, yet so many professors teach from a purely theoretical perspective gained from lots of textbooks, but they lack themost beneficial perspective gained only from practical experience. I’ve been asked to teach a PJ course at a community college yet despite my Bachelors degree in Journalism, a 25 yr successful career (still going, I might add), and nearly 10 yrs of part time teaching, the pay scale being offered is not enough to warrant the commitment.

Adjunct Professor teaching at a community college.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to teach the course, but simple economics dictate that it has to make financial sense.

The pay scale at the community college is elevated only if the instructor holds an advanced degree (there’s that word again) such as a Masters or Phd, neither of which I possess because I thought it best to actually apply my education by working in my field upon graduation as opposed to spending more time in the classroom chasing degrees.

I’ll admit that in many fields the advanced degree is necessary. For example, engineering and medicine are highly complex and theoretical, thus it’s beneficial to the student to gain all the education possible before dicing someone up in an ER or building a bridge. But I can assure you that advanced degrees in Photojournalism are completely unnecessary. The advanced knowledge in photojournalism comes from experience in the business.

Doesn’t it make sense to value real world experience at the same level as a certificate that certifies I “studied” my major for two extra years nearly 3 decades ago?

If I haven’t persuaded you yet, then ask yourself the following question. Who would you rather have teach you photojournalism, Sebastio Salgado and all of his experience without a Masters or John Doe with little, if any, experience but a Masters?

Todd Bigelow Photography

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