Why do I teach at Burlington County College? Where the heck is it?

Several people have asked me this question. And even more have wondered how long it will take them to get there from the Pennsylvania side of the river. So here goes…Years ago I tried, quite hard in fact, to find suitable places to teach. I spent several weeks on it. I live in Bala Cynwyd, PA. A lot of people don’t know where that is (or how to pronounce the name – we Americans don’t do such a great job with Welsh pronunciation.)

Anyway, I live just four blocks off Route 1 or City Avenue. I live near St. Joseph’s University and fairly near the interchange of the Schuylkill Expressway or I-76 and City Avenue. There should be lots of places to teach around here. And there are. For a price. I rented a small hotel room for a day. The list price was $350. There was a mandatory 18% gratuity on the room. Then there was sales tax on the room and the gratuity. So a $350 hotel room costs close to $450 before anybody shows up or even registers.

The local libraries and schools open with the question: “Are you a non-profit?” My reply: “I am not.” and that pretty well ends that discussion. Discussions with local colleges come to pretty much the same end. The greatest one was Philadelphia Community College which has loads of classroom space. They were just not interested.

I have gone to office buildings, private clubs and the like all, all of which have presented their different problems.

So although I would love to teach classes west of the Delaware River, so far it has not worked out.

One day I got a call from Burlington County College, “Would you like to teach a class on our campus?”

“Where is Burlington County?”

“We’re in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey.”

“Where’s that?”

To make the story a bit shorter, I found the campus. It’s 15 minutes from the Betsy Ross Bridge. And if you don’t know, on a Saturday the Betsy Ross Bridge is 5 minutes from Philadelphia Center City and 30 minutes from Bala Cynwyd. So depending where you start, Burlington County College could be closer timewise than plenty of locations in Philadelphia’s city limits.

It’s also an ideal place to teach.

The classrooms are new, modern and have great facilities. There’s plenty of parking. There’s a mall with lots of restaurants across the street. And we have a great financial deal. Which is good news for everybody.

If one person shows up for class, I get $40 and the College gets $40 and we pay eBay $15 for the course workbook. If ten people show up, multiply those numbers by ten. That allows the course to be available for $95 per student. Anybody, and I do mean anybody, who follows the basics taught in the first course should be able to make that on their first 10 sales. Maybe on their first.

You may think that sounds like a lot of money for me if ten people show up. But out of that money, I pay for my transportation: gasoline, bridge tolls, etc. Plus, and here’s the bonus to you, I have enough money left over to be able to afford to spend time with people who call me after class to work through problems, to answer questions and to clarify most anything that comes up.

I like doing that, and my wife doesn’t complain about me giving too much time away.

Here’s one more reason, though, that I teach at Burlington County College, and maybe the most important. They are great people to work with. My primary contact is a wonderful woman named Calmia Hart. She makes sure that everything goes smoothly. That includes setting up the calendar, setting up the classroom and following up after the course is conducted. And Dean Ketan Gandhi is extremely supportive. He has a wonderful offering of non-degree-oriented courses at his institution. And he is building more all the time. It’s an environment where the school wins, the teachers win and the students win. If you are not afraid of traveling to New Jersey on nights and/or weekends, you should check out their whole on-line catalog. It’s impressive. I can’t predict what you might want to learn.

And for me it’s way better than struggling to teach in a hotel.

Come join us.


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