Rants are good! "Is the art world at an all time low...", who knows for sure. You have to remember this is an era of PC - we are suppose to be nice to everyone. The academic world is feeding us their own ideas, the business world requires that we come from one of the 'centers of education', the military has to be nice to everyone - you have nice little short, shirts and shoes just for PT now. Forget about all of that, there are many that will share what they know about photography. Be happy that these people have the income to purchase photographs to hang on the walls of their office and homes - it creates new markets for all of us and keeps the films, papers, etc that we love still available. While in college I took a photography class and had to wait 25+ years before I stepped back into a darkroom - just in time to have the digital revolution tell me what I love the most is dead - Hah!
If you love what you do, do it..there are more people working pt/pl, gum, and all the other alt. process than there were 25 years ago - and they all seem to want to share. Get the degree, if that is what you really want, then find a nice small college and start showing the students what real art is.
I for one feel would love to find someone close by to help me improve my work...in the mean time, this is where I turn for assistance..not a bad place at all....