Choosing a college is certainly more complicated today than ever. Not only does a student have to think about size, location, campus atmosphere, and programs and degrees offered, but they must also consider things like how long most students take to graduate, what the average earnings are of recently graduated students, and the quality of the faculty.
The general assumption has been students should look to make sure a college has tenured and well-published faculty who are involved in research. However, a recently published paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research now suggests that colleges that hire adjunct faculty can compete with colleges that have highly recognized faculty. The paper finds that non-tenured adjunct faculty outperform tenured faculty in undergraduate introductory courses. This success is demonstrated by the fact that students taking a course with an adjunct faculty member are more likely to enjoy the course and learn from it so they will take a second course in that discipline and do well. In addition, students in adjunct faculty courses score higher grades.
There are a coupe caveats, however. Successful adjunct teachers are paid well, (an average of $4,000+ to $7,000+), and they are have taught over at least 6 semesters on the same campus. Adjunct faculty that have a long-standing and positive experience with the campus are better performers than those who have been hired once or are underpaid.
Now as you put together your college list, consider the use of adjunct teachers and weigh what is best for you overall.