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College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students

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What is the value of a college degree if it leaves you with few job prospects in a tough economy and buried in debt? College (Un)bound asks the burning question on every prospective student, parent, and new grad’s mind. Student-loan debt in the United States crossed the $1 trillion mark in 2011. To say that the cost of a four-year college education is inflated on many camp What is the value of a college degree if it leaves you with few job prospects in a tough economy and buried in debt? College (Un)bound asks the burning question on every prospective student, parent, and new grad’s mind. Student-loan debt in the United States crossed the $1 trillion mark in 2011. To say that the cost of a four-year college education is inflated on many campuses would be an understatement—and that education bubble is about to burst. Jeffrey J. Selingo, editor at large for The Chronicle for Higher Education and senior fellow at Education Sector, argues that America’s higher education system is broken and that the great credential race has transformed universities into big business. In the wake of the 2008 recession, colleges can no longer sell a degree at any price as the ticket to success in life. Brand-name universities like Harvard, Yale, Cornell, and Stanford will always find students and families willing to pay the sticker price because of their institution’s global prestige, influential alumni networks, and considerable endowments. But the campuses that the vast majority of Americans attend, where some students go into tens of thousands of dollars in debt for degrees with little payoff, will need to adapt fast to the changing job market and new technological breakthroughs. As an industry insider who has covered higher education for more than 15 years, Selingo offers a critical examination of the current state of affairs and the pressing issues faced by students and parents. He also seeks out institutions like Arizona State University and the University of Central Florida that are leading the way into the future. Selingo predicts that the class of 2020 will have a college experience that is radically different from the one their parents had, and the college of the future will be personalized, leaner, and better able to arm students with the hard skills they need to enter the workforce of tomorrow. College (Un)bound will be a great resource for prospective students, but more important, it will change the way you think about higher education.


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What is the value of a college degree if it leaves you with few job prospects in a tough economy and buried in debt? College (Un)bound asks the burning question on every prospective student, parent, and new grad’s mind. Student-loan debt in the United States crossed the $1 trillion mark in 2011. To say that the cost of a four-year college education is inflated on many camp What is the value of a college degree if it leaves you with few job prospects in a tough economy and buried in debt? College (Un)bound asks the burning question on every prospective student, parent, and new grad’s mind. Student-loan debt in the United States crossed the $1 trillion mark in 2011. To say that the cost of a four-year college education is inflated on many campuses would be an understatement—and that education bubble is about to burst. Jeffrey J. Selingo, editor at large for The Chronicle for Higher Education and senior fellow at Education Sector, argues that America’s higher education system is broken and that the great credential race has transformed universities into big business. In the wake of the 2008 recession, colleges can no longer sell a degree at any price as the ticket to success in life. Brand-name universities like Harvard, Yale, Cornell, and Stanford will always find students and families willing to pay the sticker price because of their institution’s global prestige, influential alumni networks, and considerable endowments. But the campuses that the vast majority of Americans attend, where some students go into tens of thousands of dollars in debt for degrees with little payoff, will need to adapt fast to the changing job market and new technological breakthroughs. As an industry insider who has covered higher education for more than 15 years, Selingo offers a critical examination of the current state of affairs and the pressing issues faced by students and parents. He also seeks out institutions like Arizona State University and the University of Central Florida that are leading the way into the future. Selingo predicts that the class of 2020 will have a college experience that is radically different from the one their parents had, and the college of the future will be personalized, leaner, and better able to arm students with the hard skills they need to enter the workforce of tomorrow. College (Un)bound will be a great resource for prospective students, but more important, it will change the way you think about higher education.

30 review for College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students

  1. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne Russell

    For someone who follows the Chronicle of Higher Ed or popular coverage of higher ed in general, there is not much new or surprising here. But Selingo personalizes and contextualizes the facts and figures being thrown at us in the media with his own reporting of anecdotal realities for students, parents and universities. The book cover review quotes focus on the technology disruption elements of his book, but this focus seems only to serve his broader and deeper indictment of the current system i For someone who follows the Chronicle of Higher Ed or popular coverage of higher ed in general, there is not much new or surprising here. But Selingo personalizes and contextualizes the facts and figures being thrown at us in the media with his own reporting of anecdotal realities for students, parents and universities. The book cover review quotes focus on the technology disruption elements of his book, but this focus seems only to serve his broader and deeper indictment of the current system in general. My takeaways from Selingo's coverage: -Most universities are out of touch and slow to respond to what is a major shift in educational needs and expectations of higher ed students & parents. -Current degree and major models may hinder more purposeful and future looking learning. Other models, such as those presented on pg. 149 could be explored. -A gap year could help students mature and be ready to start college. -Flexibility in course delivery models and certification methods is an emerging need. My criticisms of Selingo's coverage: -Selingo shares several stories of exceptional faculty with excellent teaching practices, but when he discusses "faculty" at large he shows some disdain. He writes this book from a student and parent advocacy standpoint and sometimes puts too much responsibility on faculty shoulders and often colors them as dispensable. -Similar to the prior point, Selingo makes some messy causal claims about institutional responsibility for student success that are a little heavy handed. His logic gets a bit convoluted in trying to answer the question of individual or institutional responsibility for students finishing their degrees. He acknowledges the confounding variables for why students might drop out, but then still wants to argue that because Princeton graduates students at such a high rate, every student should have an equal chance of graduating from any institution. In some logical contortions he tries to support this claim by talking about high achieving students who undermatch- or go to schools with lower graduation rates. But he doesn't follow this up to show if those students, who might also have gotten into a top tier school, finish the lower tier programs with lower rates- he just says they lowered their chances of graduating by merely entering the school. Give me data on some of these individual, undermatched students' graduation rates, and I might see his point better. But whenever he can't find the data, he implies some institutional conspiracies and proceeds to speculate. -Where he does have data- earnings comparisons between schools, I start to cringe a little. Though he acknowledges that colleges should be for more than setting ones' future wages, he can't stop talking about it and letting that data influence his recommendations for the future of education. What inspired me in Selingo's work: - He focuses on ways to encourage universities to get to the "sweet spot" of their students' learning needs. This is my favorite quest. In interviewing some Indian students about a training program they attended once, I saw a student describing his favorite college professor. With reverence, his eyes lit up and he said,"Oh! did he know how to get to the crux of the matter." I replay this in my head often for its passion.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stuart

    This is a very good book. It'll probably be out of date in three years, but colleges are changing so rapidly (the first time they've undergone dramatic change since the GI Bill era at the end of WWII) that its short shelf life can't be helped. In College (Un)bound, a college booster - a longtime editor at the "Pravda of higher education" (so says the essayist Joseph Epstein), the Chronicle of Higher Ed - does some real journalistic poking around to find out what colleges are like today. The effo This is a very good book. It'll probably be out of date in three years, but colleges are changing so rapidly (the first time they've undergone dramatic change since the GI Bill era at the end of WWII) that its short shelf life can't be helped. In College (Un)bound, a college booster - a longtime editor at the "Pravda of higher education" (so says the essayist Joseph Epstein), the Chronicle of Higher Ed - does some real journalistic poking around to find out what colleges are like today. The effort changes his formerly optimistic view. He finds that with the exception of a couple hundred wealthy schools that will more or less keep doing what they've been doing for decades, what we traditionally think of as the college experience has come to an end. It has become too expensive. It has lost its rigor. Students go to college without a good idea as to why they are there. In the 2000s, colleges underwent a "lost decade" where they pretended they could expand on what they had been doing for the last seventy years. But now the money - both the money from parents and the money from government - has run out. What's next? For Selingo, what's next is a more efficient, online oriented, and probably unbundled college experience far, far different than the residentially focused college of today. I agree with a lot of what Selingo says here. I could quibble with some issues, but I won't. This is a very insightful, data driven look at where colleges are and a good guess at where colleges will go in the future. It wanders more than a bit and could use some real editing, but if you're interested in the state of higher education, it's a worthwhile read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kressel Housman

    As I’ve said in other reviews, any book about college is bound to stir up my emotions. This one showed over and over again how the majority of college students choose the wrong fit for themselves, end up failing out or drifting through majors, and never reach their full earning potential once they join the workforce. Darned if that doesn’t sum up my life. But the book isn’t all doom and gloom. It’s also about the many educational alternatives cropping up, mostly because of the Internet. Aside fro As I’ve said in other reviews, any book about college is bound to stir up my emotions. This one showed over and over again how the majority of college students choose the wrong fit for themselves, end up failing out or drifting through majors, and never reach their full earning potential once they join the workforce. Darned if that doesn’t sum up my life. But the book isn’t all doom and gloom. It’s also about the many educational alternatives cropping up, mostly because of the Internet. Aside from free online college courses like the ones at coursera.org, the book suggested the development of computer-aided programs to match kids to the right colleges. In this data-driven age, when Goodreads can tell me that people who liked book X also liked book Y, then surely some program can match a high school kid’s profile to the colleges he might not have thought of because they’re not high enough on the US News and World Report ranking list. Some people might call that Big Brother, but the author argues that most parents and kids base their college decisions on less rational things, namely prestige. The most prestigious college isn’t necessarily the best fit. Neither is the one that offers the best financial aid package. It’s a combination of factors. The main thing to look at is return on investment, and the way to determine that is from the college’s past records of graduates with profiles similar to yours. The book also suggested more structured gap year programs and a national service so that kids can get some real world experience. I would have jumped at the latter when I was eighteen. Some of the online educational tools were so intriguing, I wrote them down for future reference, but there was one glaring omission: Goodreads. I think it could revolutionize classrooms across the world just as much as any of the tools the book mentioned. The book shared the staggering statistic, which I don’t remember precisely, of how many texts kids have read by the end of high school compared to the number of books. The difference was in the order of the ten thousands. But the social network of Goodreads could correct that trend. I know that I read a lot more because of it. What if schoolteachers would start using Goodreads in their classrooms? It would improve college readiness a lot better than memorizing SAT words. If you care about education, and I’d imagine most Goodreads users do, you’ll appreciate this book. And if you’re a parent or a student planning for college, it’s a must-read. Some of it’s scary, and some of it will tarnish dreams, but it’s better to plan your college career with information than a vague idea of “prestige.”

  4. 5 out of 5

    William

    A place to begin with "College Unbound" is to remember that it is journalism, not scholarship. And it is more of a catalog of problems and possible improvements than a well-reasoned exploration of why change will definitely work. Yes, much -- very much -- is wrong, but I was not convinced by the proposals covered, and found most of the examples of exemplary programs at the end of the book to be things many schools are doing. Good grief, January terms started in the 1970's and most schools which A place to begin with "College Unbound" is to remember that it is journalism, not scholarship. And it is more of a catalog of problems and possible improvements than a well-reasoned exploration of why change will definitely work. Yes, much -- very much -- is wrong, but I was not convinced by the proposals covered, and found most of the examples of exemplary programs at the end of the book to be things many schools are doing. Good grief, January terms started in the 1970's and most schools which tried them found the experience unsatisfactory and abandoned it. I wish there was more of a research base for much of what Selingo covers, and footnotes which did more than just indicate the source of information. (There are also many broad statements which would have benefited from footnotes. How do I get to four stars? This is a good summary of things we all should think about, and it is very readable, which should encourage productive discussion. Selingo states time an again that the liberal arts are more important now than ever, but also says repeatedly that students should study things related to jobs. To me, the answer is for liberal arts institutions to do a better job of connecting what they do to alumni having successful careers, and most seem now to be trying to do that. But to report outcomes as average salaries by major at a given school sounds too much like USNews' college ratings. Selingo also says students should go to the most competitive college they can get into, and indeed these students do fare better in the world of work. But what is the value added for an Ivy League for students 85% of whom (as Selingo points out) come from wealthy families and the connections which come with their financial and social status. Indeed, there is something patronizing in this book -- the new ideas in education are for those who don't make it into elite institutions. There is a very useful articulation of what is wrong with colleges -- excessive salaries (especially for administrators, but what about coaches, too?), excessive growth in non-teaching staff, grade inflation, the increasing use of adjunct faculty, and the amenities race. I agree that climbing walls are impossible to justify, and palatial dorms and gourmet cuisine seem over the top. The problem with this last item, though, is that they work in recruitment, and public taste causes some of the problems. I agree that colleges should do more to make a lot of things clear, especially graduation rates and student debt. But I also believe that these issues are so extensively covered by media that families can be expected to do some of the heavy lifting in sorting these issues out. We also should be improving high school counseling, since student loads for counselors make it almost impossible to provide the help here that should be possible. What bothers me most about this book is a message which goes in two directions. The liberal arts are great, and they are lousy. Find a field that will get you a job, but who can predict what jobs will be hot in ten years? Business, the most popular major nationally, certainly connects with the world of work, but Selingo points out that of all fields of study, business majors learn the least in college. It's worth reading a book that makes you think, but this would have been a better one with more scholarly proof of educational outcomes for new approaches to learning, and a more clear message for change.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    What will be the return on a $50, $100, $200,000 investment in an undergraduate college degree? That is the question parents and students are increasingly facing. Is this worth taking on student loan debt that could exceed $100,000? And how does one evaluate the education on offer beyond the attractive brochures and tours of campus? These are questions Jeffrey Selingo addresses. As a writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education he is well-positioned to help parents and students to understand the What will be the return on a $50, $100, $200,000 investment in an undergraduate college degree? That is the question parents and students are increasingly facing. Is this worth taking on student loan debt that could exceed $100,000? And how does one evaluate the education on offer beyond the attractive brochures and tours of campus? These are questions Jeffrey Selingo addresses. As a writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education he is well-positioned to help parents and students to understand the landscape of higher education. Selingo begins by describing the vigorous competition among institutions to provide what is perceived as the gateway credential to an upwardly mobile economic life, With that, he describes the efforts of colleges to woo students with everything from luxury dorms to climbing walls. He also explores the growing crisis of student loan debt ("the trillion-dollar problem") as well as the shaky balance sheets of some colleges. Desperate for "full tuition paying" students, universities are increasingly marketing themselves to affluent or government-supported internationals from other countries. This leads to a discussion of forces that are disrupting and changing the higher ed landscape. Much of this focuses on the game-changing advent of online technology and how this is changing the student learning experience and how people put a degree together. "Nimble" institutions will address these issues and provide ways for undergraduates to combine physical classroom experience, online resources and course credits from other institutions into a degree. The third part of his book focuses on the future. Selingo starts with the issues of how college choices are made and the need to ask harder questions about graduation rates, particularly for students in one's economic bracket. He contends that reputation does matter, not only in return on investment but also, in many cases, in retention and graduation rates. He also argues that it is important to look at curriculum, that developing critical thinking skills matters more than majors and that collaborative work experiences, study abroad, and capstone projects position students not only for their first jobs but subsequent ones. The book concludes with a collection of vignettes of creative programs and a checklist for parents and students as they engage the college search process. It seems to me that Selingo's book is very helpful reading for students and parents as they enter the college search. It is also important in naming some of the elephants in the room in higher education discussions. He identifies questions and resources that help parents go into the college search with eyes wide open. What I find less helpful is the acceptance of the value of college primarily or almost exclusively in terms of career preparation. I think this is the big concern of most parents and students but it represents a shift in thinking about the mission of higher education that goes unacknowledged. Selingo certainly describes instances of students finding a "calling" through their university experiences but it is disturbing to find one more instance of an approach to college education that largely portrays both colleges and the students who go through them as cogs in our economic machinery. It seems to me that this is neither what colleges nor people exist for.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gary Anderson

    American higher education is at a turning point, argues Jeffrey J. Selingo, Chronicle of Higher Education Editor at Large in College (Un)bound. Skyrocketing tuition prices, soaring student debt, nose-diving graduation rates, and a stodgy organizational model are moving market-savvy campuses to re-think how best to deliver rigorous learning tailored to each learner’s goals and needs at a reasonable price. What if college students move through classes not according to a semester model but based on American higher education is at a turning point, argues Jeffrey J. Selingo, Chronicle of Higher Education Editor at Large in College (Un)bound. Skyrocketing tuition prices, soaring student debt, nose-diving graduation rates, and a stodgy organizational model are moving market-savvy campuses to re-think how best to deliver rigorous learning tailored to each learner’s goals and needs at a reasonable price. What if college students move through classes not according to a semester model but based on how soon they master the curriculum? What if colleges automatically deny admission to students who can’t afford their price tag? What if a college’s tuition price varies according to major based on predicted earnings after graduation? What if most colleges accept most transfer credits? These are some of the innovations currently evolving on college campuses that will shape the higher education experience of students currently in elementary, junior high, and high school. I highly recommend College (Un)bound to educators and parents of students destined for college.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Eustacia Tan

    I'm not sure that I should be reading this book, seeing as I'm trying to adapt to university and need encouragement not a questioning of whether I should even be here, but I read it. And I can sum up the book by quoting the author (this quote comes towards the end of the book): "I believe additional education after high school is absolutely critical. I still consider a two- or four-year college campus one of the best places to obtain that education. The problem is that a significant number of stu I'm not sure that I should be reading this book, seeing as I'm trying to adapt to university and need encouragement not a questioning of whether I should even be here, but I read it. And I can sum up the book by quoting the author (this quote comes towards the end of the book): "I believe additional education after high school is absolutely critical. I still consider a two- or four-year college campus one of the best places to obtain that education. The problem is that a significant number of students today are poorly matched with the college they eventually attend. We lack high-quality educational substitutes for those who are ill-suited to traditional colleges and universities at eighteen. It seems we wend some kids off to college because there is no where else to put them. The campus is a convenient, albeit expensive, warehouse." So basically, university is good. Except for some people who aren't suited. And the present system sucks. But other than that, it's all good! Ok, so I'm making it sound a lot more cynical than it is. The author really does believe in the university of tomorrow. The university of tomorrow is online (at least partly) and is extremely personalised. It's also cheaper (I can't argue with that!). The book is divided into three parts: "How We Got Here" (why it is the way it is), "The Disruption" (forces working to change college) and "The Future" (The Future is Good - apparently). The last fifty or so pages are a list (with descriptions) of "collages of the future" and a checklist that is supposed to help you decide which college/university to go to. Being in a university (and happy in it!), I skipped this last part. By the way, is there a difference because college and university? I know there is one in England, but how about America? This book is America-centric so I'm not sure if "College" is the accepted term. And yes, this is, to me, the book's weakness. It's very America-centric. If you're not interested in American Higher Education, you don't need to bother reading this. Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review This review was first posted to Inside the mind of a Bibliophle

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lauri

    This was a fascinating book for anyone interested in the future of higher education, but especially for parents of students who are beginning the college selection process. Jeffrey Selingo has divided the book into several sections: How We Got Here (which examines the reasons for ballooning college tuitions, among other things); The Disruption (discussing MOOC's and the impact of technology on personalized learning); The Future (looking at the students of tomorrow, the value of various degrees, This was a fascinating book for anyone interested in the future of higher education, but especially for parents of students who are beginning the college selection process. Jeffrey Selingo has divided the book into several sections: How We Got Here (which examines the reasons for ballooning college tuitions, among other things); The Disruption (discussing MOOC's and the impact of technology on personalized learning); The Future (looking at the students of tomorrow, the value of various degrees, and necessary skills for the future); and several concluding chapters, including one that outlines the forward-thinking programs happening at several colleges around the country, and one with a fabulous checklist of questions to ask on college tours. The only reason I didn't give this book 5 stars is that sometimes it felt a little long. Overall, though, it is a very worthwhile and interesting read. I underlined over 206 things while I was reading (thanks, Kindle, for that stat)! As a graduate of a prestigious private liberal arts college myself, I know that I gained a great deal from my college education; but as a parent of a college freshman, I wish I'd known some of these things when he was going through the college search. This book is a great companion book to Blake Boles' The Art of Self-Directed Learning; both books discuss the fact that many college-bound high school seniors go to college mainly because it is expected of them, and not because it is a means to an end. Both authors suggest that a gap year or year of service might be beneficial to many students, to help them identify their interests and gain maturity. The skyrocketing costs of college in this country, the 50 million Americans who hold some kind of student loan, developing technologies, grade inflation, tuition discounting, the large percentage of students who transfer schools or never graduate, employer demand for credentials - all of these issues are addressed in this comprehensive examination of higher education in this country. Absolutely a worthwhile read. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a copy of this book to review prior to the paperback release.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin

    Higher Education was in the past one of the slowest changing institutions in fact the University of Paris and Oxford date back to the middle ages and many of the structures in place date from that era and the U.S. university system is based largely on the Prussian model of the 19th century. This is changing fast now. In the past few decades a college degree became the primary ticket to the middle class and universities could raise tuition knowing parents would pony up because higher ed. was cruc Higher Education was in the past one of the slowest changing institutions in fact the University of Paris and Oxford date back to the middle ages and many of the structures in place date from that era and the U.S. university system is based largely on the Prussian model of the 19th century. This is changing fast now. In the past few decades a college degree became the primary ticket to the middle class and universities could raise tuition knowing parents would pony up because higher ed. was crucial for middle class entry. Since the financial meltdown of 2008 and the onslaught of new technology this decades long dynamic has been thrown into doubt. The University is becoming unbundled as students go online and flip through colleges. Nontraditional students and online education are throwing the old model into crisis. Grade inflation and plush campus amenities that make colleges seem like vacation resorts are problems that the colleges have been dealing with for over a decade and making the public and employers call into question the value of higher education. With endowments losing money in the new market and parents and students becoming more price sensitive the old business model may face serious problems. This book spends equal measures of space on the problems and on the opportunities of new technology and market place demands to elucidate the forces that are transforming the college system. I have some more detail in my status updates but I got a lot from this book. Update 6/30/2019 granted this book is on education but it is still full of the mythos of meritocracy. We just got to straighten out education and once education is accessible to the worthy capitalism and its structural problems will fix themselves. Sorry for the bit editorializing but I am sick of 90s new democrats telling me to get the right degree and that will fix the problem.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    Full review < href="http://www.sarabieventide.com/2017/07..., excerpt below. As the title promises, College (Un)bound is an investigation of the problems with U.S. higher education and some of the approaches various firms are taking to solve them. While the information in the book was decent, none of it was new or surprising. I tried to pretend I was back in 2013 and the advances that have happened since then didn’t yet exist, but it was fruitless. The fact of the matter is, not very much has ch Full review < href="http://www.sarabieventide.com/2017/07..., excerpt below. As the title promises, College (Un)bound is an investigation of the problems with U.S. higher education and some of the approaches various firms are taking to solve them. While the information in the book was decent, none of it was new or surprising. I tried to pretend I was back in 2013 and the advances that have happened since then didn’t yet exist, but it was fruitless. The fact of the matter is, not very much has changed in U.S. higher education in the last 4 years. This book added nothing to my life, because I knew all of the issues it discussed. I will give Selingo credit for discussing some of the solutions. Although they mostly fell along the same vein of thought (separating the college degree from the “college experience” and moving at least part of the education system online), I hadn’t heard of some of the companies, and I plan on checking them out. For some people, the information in the book may be a revelation; people who do not have family members who have been to college may benefit from the book. It’s possible that people whose family members have attended uni for hundreds of years without taking a critical look at the system may also benefit from reading College (Un)bound. I, however, fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rhys

    An unabashed paean to technology and corporate education. The premise (from the introduction) is: “Too few students are going to college, not enough are graduating, and the whole thing costs too much.” And the straw man: “Like another American icon – the auto industry in Detroit – the higher-education industry is beset by hubris, opposition to change, and resistance to accountability.” Further on: “Technology has rapidly transformed nearly every industry. While college have spent millions to outf An unabashed paean to technology and corporate education. The premise (from the introduction) is: “Too few students are going to college, not enough are graduating, and the whole thing costs too much.” And the straw man: “Like another American icon – the auto industry in Detroit – the higher-education industry is beset by hubris, opposition to change, and resistance to accountability.” Further on: “Technology has rapidly transformed nearly every industry. While college have spent millions to outfit campuses with wireless technology, purchase the latest computing power, and hire IT staff, technology has failed, until now, to improve quality, bring greater efficiency, and lower costs, …” And the ideology: "At its core, one of the purposes [of the college] is information delivery, and in recent years other long-established content providers from music to journalism to books have been transformed by technology, resulting in the decline of the middleman" Maybe education is not an industry. But the book makes some sense, if you believe education is, at its core, information dissemination. Maybe if the corporations want an educated workforce, they should help pay for it … say, though taxes. And if you believe that technology can teach the majority of learners, then you haven’t been in a classroom and engaged the 21st Century Learner. And the real groaner: "Both the economy and society are moving away from the logical, linear, computer-like attributes of the left brain to a conceptual age when the big-picture capabilities of the right brain will be increasingly important." This is complete nonsense – see McGilchrist’s Master and his Emissary for the research on this topic. Only a corporate member of a Board of Trustees would like a book like this.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    As a higher education professional I was intrigued by the subject matter. The author provided rational and thoughtful perspectives that will be helpful for any emerging adult - except that he gives an incomplete picture. While deriding "student services" he fails to acknowledge the reality of the student affairs profession. The cadre of professionals that have, as he characterizes it, contributed to the costs of college have also been the ones on the front lines responding to the demands of both As a higher education professional I was intrigued by the subject matter. The author provided rational and thoughtful perspectives that will be helpful for any emerging adult - except that he gives an incomplete picture. While deriding "student services" he fails to acknowledge the reality of the student affairs profession. The cadre of professionals that have, as he characterizes it, contributed to the costs of college have also been the ones on the front lines responding to the demands of both students and their parents. The student affairs profession exists because faculty were unwilling or incapable of making connections with students. Yes - there are excesses in pandering to the commercialization and commodification of higher education that often reflects poorly on student affairs folks (he cites High Point University) - but as a whole we want the same thing (we hope) the students and parents want, graduation and future professional success. Students (especially) need to take responsibility for not being drawn in like kids at the McDonald's Playland...they are adults and they need to understand the consequences of their choices...this is a perspective shared by truly professional student services divisions and Mr. Selingo.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This book is fantastic, discussing the changes in the collegiate landscape over the past decade and the possible changes to come (and the financial implications of those changes). I think it should be required reading for teachers, parents of teenagers, and teenagers.

  14. 5 out of 5

    SJ Loria

    College Unbound I can’t believe I’ve been in education, both as a participant and as an educator, and I hadn’t read this book until now. What we mean by college needs to be understood, from multiple angles. The only reason this book gets 4 stars out of 5 is because Jeff, when’s our follow up chat we agreed to? I have some questions, but, without further adieus and/or ramble, the review: If you are considering college, you need to read this book. If you took out a big loan to pay for college, you College Unbound I can’t believe I’ve been in education, both as a participant and as an educator, and I hadn’t read this book until now. What we mean by college needs to be understood, from multiple angles. The only reason this book gets 4 stars out of 5 is because Jeff, when’s our follow up chat we agreed to? I have some questions, but, without further adieus and/or ramble, the review: If you are considering college, you need to read this book. If you took out a big loan to pay for college, you need to read this book. If you are someone who has borrowed against their home equity line or gone “whoa” when you see the expected family contribution for your son or daughter, you need to read this book. If you work in a position in a school or other educational entity or if you’ve ever told a youngin’ “you should to go to college,” you need to read this book. If you were buying a house, would you go to an open house? I hope so, but would you then would you look up the neighborhood around it? Consider which direction the crime rates or property values are tending? Would you visit at multiple times? Would you walk to the first bank you happen to see, such as a “We’ll cash your checks and give you gold n stuff” and agree to the interest rate they give you without looking at various options? Would you look at a home inspector’s report? Buying a house is such an important investment and says a lot about your desired quality of life, it’s important. And so is college. It is important to be educated and informed about the necessary step in front of you, and equally important to understand the expense you are taking on and analyze it in the best manner possible before signing the lease, or in the case of a teenager, the student loan agreement and college entrance paperwork. We still together? At one point I chucked when a (well-meaning and innovate) college president was “surprised” that potential students were making such emotionally charged decision on which college to attend. If you are surprised that 17 and 18 year olds make emotionally charged decisions without consulting facts then you have been in higher ed too long. Of course they make emotionally charged decisions. They’re teenagers. But how can we as adults just let them take out huge investments without properly educating them? Should college councilors be held to a higher standard? Should their title perhaps be independence through college / career co-advocate? Students, you should you should be familiar with all the following terms as they relate to you. Parents, you should ask your admissions counselor if they know these terms (and if they don’t, probably ignore their advice, definitely read this book). Educators, I propose we understand these concepts before sending every kid to college like a knee jerk reaction. “Potential earning to debt ratio,” the statistical graduation rate within 6 years at your school. Net tuition per student, discount rate versus yield at your school. Earning potential of graduates at your school compared to others. You need to seriously analyze your statistical probability of finishing college versus your interests, motivation and maturity and seriously examine whether or not a “middle job” (“positions that no not require a bachelor’s degree but pay middle-class wages” Tony Carnevale, Georgetown University) solid career couple with a bit of vocational school and or blended learning would be the best fit for YOU. Not for your college counselor, not for your teachers, not for your BFF, for whoever signs your student loan paperwork (most likely you and a parent/guardian). Your future is too important (and now too expensive) to just give it the old college try anymore. Ultimately what I enjoyed about this book is that while Salingo analyzes the facts, and certainly presents what could be a very doomsday scenario for the current state and the near future of higher education, he remains optimistic and solution oriented. There American dream may be more statistically difficult than ever before, but we do not chose the time we are born into. We can however, maximize our potential right now, and this is the kind of book that is so important to read because it helps you do that. Salingo, follow up chat. Let’s. Quotes At the colleges and universities attended by most American students, costs are spiraling out of control and quality is declining just as increasing international competition demands that higher education be more productive and less expensive. Only slightly more than 50% of American students who enter college leave with a bachelor’s degree….the country risks having successive generations less educated than the ones that preceded them for the first time. IX American higher education has become, what in the business world, would be called a mature enterprise: increasingly risk-averse, at time self-satisfied, and unduly expensive.” –Federal Commission of Higher Education 2006 Despite the technological advances of the past two decades, the revolution in the way college education is delivered is just beginning…at least for now.XII Some 50 million Americans now hold some kind of student loan, slightly more than the number of people on Medicare and almost as many as receive Social Security benefits. XIV At the 200 colleges that are most difficult to get into, only 15% of entering students in 2010 came from families in the bottom half of incomes in the US (under $65,000). Nearly seven in ten students on those campuses come from the top income group (above $108,000). The result is the US higher education system is becoming less of a meritocracy. In the last decade, the percentage of students from families at the highest income levels who got a bachelor’s degree has grown to 82%, while for those at the bottom if has fallen to just 8%.XI The people we think of as traditional college students, 18-24 yeah olds, make up a little more than a third of enrollments at colleges…We think of American higher education as cohesive system, but there is nothing uniform about it. Colleges and universities provide a wide variety of educational and social services and bring them together in one package, which usually is delivered at one physical location. That system is collapsing under an unsustainable financial model. XVI There are some 5,3000 colleges and universities in the US, everything from beauty schools to Harvard. They bring in $490 billion in revenues each year. They employ more than 3.5 million people. They hold $990 billion in assets, including cash, investment, and campuses that are essentially minicities. And they spend $440 billion on goods, services, and products each year…In a growing number of towns and cities throughout the United States, colleges have replaced manufactures and other private businesses as the top company. 4 As colleges have become more central to city and regional economies, they have lost focus on what had been and should be their primary mission – teaching students and researching the next big discoveries. More than ever, American colleges and universities seem to be in every business but education. 5 The bachelor’s degree, the symbol of success and the ticket to the middle class for the post-WWII generations, has slowly become the new high school diploma. 7 [From 2002-2010] more than three hundred majors were added to a list of 1,400 from a decade earlier. A third of the new programs were in just two fields: health professions and military technologies/applied sciences…another, more skeptical viewpoint, is that colleges need new degree programs to attract more students and distinguish themselves from competitors down the street…[case point] MA in Media Entrepreneurship. 20 month executive program. Saturdays and weeknights. This program at American University is a perfect example of a new product designed to drive demand for a communications degree at a time when jobs in the field are hard to come by. How do you learn entrepreneurship when a big part of it is risk taking, an innate quality? 9 Master’s degree – the fastest growing credential in high education. In 2009, about 693,000 were awarded, a number that has doubled since the 980s. The number of people with a master’s degree is now about equal to those with at least a bachelor’s degree in 1960. Just as the bachelor’s degree has become the new high-school diploma, the master’s degree is turning into the new bachelor’s diploma, the master’s degree is turning into the new bachelor’s degree, and it’s probably only a matter of time before the doctorate is the new master’s degree. 10 [Regarding US News and World “News” Rankings] The competition to move up in the research rankings has real costs to students and their families. It matters so much to some universities that they have spent tuition dollars to gain an advantage. Around a quarter of the top hundred universities on the list have doubled their own spending on research in the last decade. But get this Nearly half of them ended up falling in the rankings. 14 Medical schools are a pricey addition to a university on the move, a law school isn’t. They don’t require expensive lab facilities, and students can be stuffed into large lecture classes. Indeed, law schools add to both a university’s status and its bottom line. They are so profitable that some pass on as much as 30% of their tuition revenues to other parts of the university….universities can’t get enough of them. Despite a tough job market and a glut of lawyers in most states, law schools keep adding spots for students…Take Texas as an example. Even as the cash-strapped legislate there was talking about closing four community colleges in 2011, they approved a new law school in downtown Dallas for Univeristy of North Texas. A state report noted Texas already produces more lawyers than it has job openings….building a new law school would cost nearly $55 million over five years, while expanding the current public law schools by the same number of students would cost $1.3 million. Still, university officials, backed by a group of powerful local politicians, prevailed with their argument: Dallas has two law schools, both private, and Houston, a smaller metro region, has three law schools, including a public option. A similar me-too argument..etc.15 *Regional public universities or comprehensive universities have long been considered the undistinguished middle child of public higher education – squeezed on one side by flagship research universities, on the other by community colleges…the result? Institutions that look like lesser versions of their states’ flagship universities, with much smaller endowments, low-quality programs, and poor graduation rates…Aspirational schools are known to shower financial aid on accomplished students in the form of merit scholarships…to pay for new merit scholarships, these schools have raised the sticker price of tuition for everyone to gain more money from those who could afford to pay and cut back need-based aid to student’s who can’t…[this comes at]a terrible cost to some students who have taken on tremendous amount of debt in order to enroll at these hot schools. 16 *The proportion of students receiving merit aid from public and private colleges actually outnumbers those receiving need-based aid, and the average amount of merit aid from the school also exceeds the average number amount of merit aid from the school also exceeds the average need-based grant. You’re probably thinking that financial aid should be based on merit – the thing is, it was already based on merit. Students had to get accepted…maintain a minimum GPA…The change now is that this merit aid goes disproportionately to students from upper-income families, who could afford to pay more of the cost of college and would go to college no matter what. All this in an effort to gain position for greater prestige. 17 [As of 2014] the United States now ranks twelfth in the world for postsecondary credentials amount among the seventeen countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. As recently as 1995, the United States ranked first. 18 Rising prices have forced families to realize that college is a major purchase and investment – not just a rite of passage. 20 One in ten college students is enrolled in a for-profit college, such as University of Phoenix, DeVry University, Everest College, and Grand Canyon University. [PS – that’s where the majority bragged about growth in minority diploma rates come from…and there are huge questions about the quality of these schools] 23 Expectations about how much work or how much rigor or how much time is largely influenced by the marketing of schools that tell students they can do it all, but never actually talk about the work they will need to do. 23 What is more probable, however, is that the heightened focus on the student as customer is leading to a systematic dumbing down of college campuses. The evidence, from grades to achievement tests to graduation rates, is pretty damning – students are skating through college, if they make it through at all…The A is now the most common mark given out on college campuses nationwide, accounting for 43% of all grades. (In 1988, the A represented less than one-third of all grades.) 24 [Summarizing research from 2011 book Academically Adrift) The main reason for this, the researchers found, was a lack of rigor. 25 [the only thing that is alarming about that quote is that most educators cannot sink that into their heads. Go, buy another software solution, how dare we challenge the consumer, I’m sorry, student.] Lack of rigor. Through surveys they learned that students spent about twelve hours a week studying on average, much of that time in groups. Most didn’t take courses that required them to read more than forty pages a week or write more than twenty pages over the course of an entire semester. Students who studied alone did better [take that collaborative learning must happen always no matter what educational bureaucrats], as did students whose teachers had high expectations or assigned a significant amount of reading or writing. Those who majored in humanities, social sciences, hard sciences, and math did best [on assessments that measure critical thinking]. And the majors that did the worst? Education, social work, and the most popular major on US college campuses: business. 26 (rigor + individual excellence + high expectations + relevant and challenging work = a better thinker. And this is hard to controversial and rarely put into place…why?) Luxury accommodations not only add to the sense of entitlement [and balloon costs], but offer few opportunities for students to learn how to get along with different people and manage conflicts. 34 While a college degree might make good economic sense, one at any cost doesn’t. Education debt may be good debt, but even too much of a good thing can hurt you. 51 September 15, 2008: The Beginning of the End…by the spring of 2012, fewer colleges were touting their number of applications. The focus, instead, was on other figures: discount rates and yield (the percentage of accepted students who send deposits to enroll)….the situation was a result of a confluence of bad decisions exacerbated by the economic downturn. 59 Moody’s report downgraded Drew University [and many others] in 2012 “The rating is based on persistent operating deficits and thin cash-flow driven by a decline in enrollment and net tuition per student couple with rising debt service payments and transition of several key members of university leadership.” Translation: The private college is operating in a hole, it is discounting tuition too much, and it is not attracting enough students, especially those who will pay more in tuition. 60 *For colleges and universities, a financial metric perhaps more important than the discount rate is the so-called net tuition per student…in recent years, net tuition revenue has either been flat or flatting at 73% of colleges…net tuition is under pressure because colleges, particular private schools [and especially mid-quality schools] lack the market power to raise their prices significantly in a down economy, given the discounting they are already using to attract students. Business and law schools are no longer the cash cows they once were for their parent institutions….the most informed and realistic higher-education leaders realize they are now living in a new normal. Unless they suddenly find alternative revenue sources (the silver bullet everyone is looking for), these colleges either need to cut costs quickly or face the prospect of a long, painful path to closure. 61 Higher education remains the largest single chunk of discretionary spending in the state budget. That means it is not mandated by the federal government or the state constitution, like public K-12 education or Medicaid. Higher ed is often at the end of the line when lawmakers dole out money. In recent years, not much has been left to give to colleges. Students have had to pick up more of the bill for their education. 63 Colleges are extraordinary complex institutions with multiple purposes: teaching, research, preparing students for life and career, and of course, providing support services, from campus organizations to athletics to residential life. Is it the organization required for this complexity that leads to higher costs, Clay Christensen tells me. Most industries, he says, focus on one business model at a time. The typical state university or research institution is the amalgamation of three different business models: a consulting firm that offers solutions (the university’s research function), a manufacturer that adds value to a raw material (the teaching function), and an online auction site that facilitates networks (the life and career function). 68 *The amount families pay for college has skyrocketed more than 400% since 1982. It is not just about pure costs anymore, as Kirshner observed. In the Pew survey, about half of Americans think that the higher education system is doing a poor or fair job in providing value for the money spent…Sure, the climbing walls, the new dorms, the fancy food in the dining hall, and the sports teams will continue to be sales tools employed by many colleges to reel in students. How rigorously colleges prepare students for the workforce, as well as mature them for life, will play a greater role in the calculation of value. And on that front, many colleges don’t measure up. 71 This is the idea of flipping the classroom comes in: Students amass information outside of class largely through online materials and class time is spent processing that information and working through problems with the professor or other students. The basic concept is not new, of course. Literature classes have been taught this way for decades. 77 [aHA! K-12 mediocritizers, you are now trying to unflip Literature in Title One classes assuming muchchos can’t read at home eh? Y’all are wrong.) The role of a faculty member is changing to one more akin to a coach than a revered figure at the head of the class. “A good [academic] coach figures out what makes a great athlete [or student] and what practice helps you achieve that…they motivate the learner to put out intense effort, and they provide expert feedback that’s very timely.” 77

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mike Jorgensen

    I really enjoyed it and for the most part have observed most of the flaws in the American collegiate system but didn't have the research or solutions. Selingo provides data and things are worse than most would be willing to admit. However, he is not ready to blow it all up and start over or push people away from college. He acknowledges that its prices are higher, value is lower, educational standards are not uniformed, and everyone needs more degrees than ever before. In the end he offers some I really enjoyed it and for the most part have observed most of the flaws in the American collegiate system but didn't have the research or solutions. Selingo provides data and things are worse than most would be willing to admit. However, he is not ready to blow it all up and start over or push people away from college. He acknowledges that its prices are higher, value is lower, educational standards are not uniformed, and everyone needs more degrees than ever before. In the end he offers some possible solutions which I didn't feel was a necessary addition, but I'm sure many appreciate it. In the end, I'm not sure who the intended audience is. There were parts that felt like lecturing students or their parents about making financial decisions. There were parts that felt like scolding universities for racking up debt and needing to increase enrollment every year to keep afloat. And yet, there were other parts that were for me; one who has completed a couple of degrees and has a mountain of debt.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shannon L. Gonzalez

    Book Review: College (Un)bound The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students Jeffrey J. Selingo Every parent of a high-school and middle-school student should read this book. It will open the eyes of the public to what is going on in higher academia behind the closed golden gates. As tuition increases each year, the question is raised how much is too much? When will it stop and at what point does that little piece of paper (degree) become too expensive and not worth the enormous debt Book Review: College (Un)bound The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students Jeffrey J. Selingo Every parent of a high-school and middle-school student should read this book. It will open the eyes of the public to what is going on in higher academia behind the closed golden gates. As tuition increases each year, the question is raised how much is too much? When will it stop and at what point does that little piece of paper (degree) become too expensive and not worth the enormous debt to earn it? Most employers require a degree from new hires, but when too many graduates can’t find work in their degree field, to what end will the colleges finally take responsibility? The colleges look like resorts, not institutions of learning. Academia no longer prides itself on learning as the priority; instead it’s the sports stadiums, rock climbing walls, leisure pools and spring-break atmosphere in order to lure prospective students to apply. Its business, the more students willing to pay the high prices, the more the colleges earn. Author Jeffrey Selingo takes the reader through the history of what colleges used to be, and what they are now today; it is frightening to see what has become of them. It is equally as frightening to realize society still holds the degree as a golden ticket towards success in life. With the new reality it simply is not true. Graduates are now questioning if that amount of debt post graduation is really worth it when they are only in minimum wage jobs. The author chronicles how online education, MOOCs and online lectures of Ivy League professors are paving a new path for entrance to college. With the ease and access for anyone to learn, the priority of learning for the sake of learning takes on new meaning. He details how alternative credentials of completion are being invented such as badges and accomplishment certificates. He mentions how the student only going to one school their entire academic career is moving towards an ala carte career to attain the needed requirements from many means. As the children of today grow up towards college they will change the way teaching is done. They are so connected digitally that traditional means of teaching has to be reexamined. So what is the future of higher education in America? You’ll have to read this book for Jeffery Selingo’s vision of what the college campuses of tomorrow will look like. To learn more about Jeffrey Selingo’s other books and lectures visit his website at: http://www.jeffselingo.com/ FTC Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this title from Net Galley for review purposes only. No other compensation was awarded.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Raetz

    Yet another book about how terrible higher education is, written by someone who doesn't appear to understand even basic facts about the subject, such as how college budgets work, the idea that colleges have different missions and we serve different groups of students, and so on. This is particularly alarming given Mr. Selingo has spent the past 15 years as a writer and editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education. How can he know so little? Another issue is muddled logic. He beats up colleges (and Yet another book about how terrible higher education is, written by someone who doesn't appear to understand even basic facts about the subject, such as how college budgets work, the idea that colleges have different missions and we serve different groups of students, and so on. This is particularly alarming given Mr. Selingo has spent the past 15 years as a writer and editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education. How can he know so little? Another issue is muddled logic. He beats up colleges (and make no mistake, this is a polemic, not unbiased reporting) for being risk averse and not innovative...and then details a host of innovative programs that he then rails against. He laments that colleges have become businesses where students are customers and are catered to because "the customer is always right"...and yet he discusses higher ed as a commodity and a business throughout the book. Um...ok. Selingo also tells stories, always negative of course, about single incidents and then blames all of higher education for it. For example, a college reported some bad data to a federal database, then *discovered their own mistake* and recalled the data. Selingo says this must mean that higher education officials frequently lie about our colleges. The reporting is so bad that I couldn't finish the first section but I skimmed the solutions section that concludes the book. His answers to fixing all the problems are the same tired fads we've been hearing about for years. Online degrees, MOOCs, and competency-based education will revolutionize higher education and save us all! Um, no. They will continue on their current path, meaning they will become tools in the tool box, but they will never upend our current system because the effectiveness data show they only work for narrow groups of college students...and I'm not sure who MOOCs work for at all since the noncompletion rates are around 94%. Higher education does have problems and Selingo makes a good point once in awhile in this book (e.g., that prestige-worship and ranking-chasing are leading us off course). It's just a shame that they are wrapped in a multitude of ill-informed, poorly researched, needlessly hostile opinions. Higher education is in need of thoughtful critiques, but this book wastes the opportunity to provide that.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marks54

    This is a short but well done summary of some of the major problems facing higher education written by a staffer on the Chronicle of Higher Education. Selingo does a good job on the shift to consumerist education pursuing credentials - and the related issues of stagnant achievement and poor graduation rates. His description of financial issues related to rising tuition rates and the huge student loan problem is also good. The most effective chapter for me analyzes the industry in terms of its un This is a short but well done summary of some of the major problems facing higher education written by a staffer on the Chronicle of Higher Education. Selingo does a good job on the shift to consumerist education pursuing credentials - and the related issues of stagnant achievement and poor graduation rates. His description of financial issues related to rising tuition rates and the huge student loan problem is also good. The most effective chapter for me analyzes the industry in terms of its unsustainable business model stemming from rising institutional debt, declining state support, the maturation of the pool of paying students, the growth of competition, and the rapid approach of price levels that will drive most families away. The book also has a nice chapter explaining the growth of MOOCs and other online course alternatives and generally does a good job with technology - although it is far from clear how universities will become grossly more efficient. The last portion of the book considers a variety of models for how the way education is provided may change in the future. These are plausible developments but not as relevant to current issues as the earlier chapters were. There are also good references and hints for finding education statistics. This is a good volume for those wanting to catch up on the current turmoil in higher education and is very accessible to more general readers.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laurel

    This reflective work by Selingo is a repackaging of the same criticisms I have been reading about the structure of higher education for more than five years. Selingo brings his credentials as an editor at the Chronicle of Higher Education to this book which does give him a more well-rounded vantage point than other authors who have written from their limited experiences at one or two institutions in the role of faculty or administrator. Overall, though, there was nothing fresh in his overview of This reflective work by Selingo is a repackaging of the same criticisms I have been reading about the structure of higher education for more than five years. Selingo brings his credentials as an editor at the Chronicle of Higher Education to this book which does give him a more well-rounded vantage point than other authors who have written from their limited experiences at one or two institutions in the role of faculty or administrator. Overall, though, there was nothing fresh in his overview of how higher education currently operates and what drives the high cost of a college degree. Selingo proposes that students cherry pick their course work, taking courses online and at different institutions to save money as they accumulate the credits that will lead to an undergraduate degree. He fails to consider how many schools scaffold courses so that the knowledge gained in a particular program over the course of two to four years leads to the expertise in a particular field. Most institutions do not "silo" their courses in a particular major. For a student to get a rich education that leads to a successful career, they need to stick with a cohesive program over a period of several years. Selingo's approach would certainly save students time and money, but I believe would lead to a disjointed academic experience that would not serve the student well in the long-run.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kylie Larson

    One of the best highered reads I've seen in awhile. Some notable quotes: "For every dollar earned by college graduates, those who drop out without a degree earn sixty-seven cents." "Even the leaders of colleges and universities think we’re in trouble. More than one-third of them say American higher education is headed in the wrong direction." "Venture capitalists poured some $429 million into education companies in 2011. That same year, in the midst of a worldwide economic slump, 124 education star One of the best highered reads I've seen in awhile. Some notable quotes: "For every dollar earned by college graduates, those who drop out without a degree earn sixty-seven cents." "Even the leaders of colleges and universities think we’re in trouble. More than one-third of them say American higher education is headed in the wrong direction." "Venture capitalists poured some $429 million into education companies in 2011. That same year, in the midst of a worldwide economic slump, 124 education start-ups received financial backing, the most since 1999, during the height of the dot-com boom." "At the 200 colleges that are most difficult to get into, only 15 percent of entering students in 2010 came from families in the bottom half of incomes in the US (under $65,000). Nearly seven in ten students on those campuses come from the top income group (above $108,000)." "there are some 5,300 colleges and universities in the US, everything from beauty schools to Harvard. They bring in $490 billion in revenues each year. They employ more than 3.5 million people. They hold $990 billion in assets, including cash, investments, and campuses that are essentially minicities. And they spend $440 billion on goods, services, and people each year."

  21. 5 out of 5

    Travis

    There wasn't that much new information I'm this book for anyone that has followed challenges and changes to higher education. It was preaching to the choir when I read page after page about how higher education prices are becoming too steep to remain sustainable, especially in the face of improving alternatives that will eventually have to wear down the stairs quo as the world continues to change and evolve with technology and global interactions. The book is broken into three sections. The first There wasn't that much new information I'm this book for anyone that has followed challenges and changes to higher education. It was preaching to the choir when I read page after page about how higher education prices are becoming too steep to remain sustainable, especially in the face of improving alternatives that will eventually have to wear down the stairs quo as the world continues to change and evolve with technology and global interactions. The book is broken into three sections. The first details the problems with the current system, many of which boil down to finances and return on investment for a traditional degree. The second section goes over the so called "disruptions" to the current system, which mostly involves online education replacing and complementing face-to-face time. The third section is about the future. Presumably this shows how new methods can be implemented but I only skimmed this section because I felt like I had got the point of the book. One could just as easily read the conclusion and checklist at the back to get most of the content out of this book without reading anecdote after contextualizing story. This was a similar problem I had when reading a book on raising innovators and many other education books.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I don’t think this offered a ton of insight into higher education in the US. It was also frustrating that so much time was spent discussing the cost of higher education and how students could pay for it, but free higher education or government regulation on cost was never discussed. Maybe I just misunderstood the purpose of this book, and it was more to offer advice to perspective students than think about actual solutions. I also found it hypocritical that on one hand the author disagreed with I don’t think this offered a ton of insight into higher education in the US. It was also frustrating that so much time was spent discussing the cost of higher education and how students could pay for it, but free higher education or government regulation on cost was never discussed. Maybe I just misunderstood the purpose of this book, and it was more to offer advice to perspective students than think about actual solutions. I also found it hypocritical that on one hand the author disagreed with liberal arts education, but then talked about needing a workforce that could learn and think for themselves. I also would have appreciated some discussion on studying a foreign language as a major. This was never brought up, even though study abroad was. I just think this book has too much of a capitalist take on education, even though I do agree that emphasizing that trade schools are a great alternative is important. One last point is that he laments people choosing “softer” majors, but never considers why some people might have been discouraged from science, tech, and math. Ultimately, education is complex and there are so very many factors that contribute to an individuals choices and success.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Clark

    This book offers a quick trot through the inadequacies of higher education in the US and some proposals for dealing with them. As I do not work in the US, but see a lot of material about their unviersities, I found this a useful primer. In particular, the complexity of the system and its funding appears mindboggling. The discussion of the failings of universities is quite convincing - a picture of declining standards, colleges locked in an arms-race with each other to spend on marketing and facil This book offers a quick trot through the inadequacies of higher education in the US and some proposals for dealing with them. As I do not work in the US, but see a lot of material about their unviersities, I found this a useful primer. In particular, the complexity of the system and its funding appears mindboggling. The discussion of the failings of universities is quite convincing - a picture of declining standards, colleges locked in an arms-race with each other to spend on marketing and facilities, and a system that is too inflexible. His remedies are less convincing - tired cliches are trotted out about the potential for "online learning" to solve the problems of higher education. As someone who works in the filed, I know that online learning has its value, but it is expensive and limited in its scope, and certainly not the salvation of the sector. If you are new to the debates around higher education, this book may be of some value as an introduction. Anyone else should save their frustration and look elsewhere.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Wildfire

    Selingo makes some good points throughout the book, but he alienated me in the last chapter with his agenda to push new "trends" in higher education that I find antithetical to the spirit of the university. The whole time, I thought his main argument was to stop throwing away money on gimmicks and start investing in the basics--our faculty, our students, our libraries. In lieu of these points, and perhaps filling the need to "say something new," I think Selingo commits the fallacy of arguing tha Selingo makes some good points throughout the book, but he alienated me in the last chapter with his agenda to push new "trends" in higher education that I find antithetical to the spirit of the university. The whole time, I thought his main argument was to stop throwing away money on gimmicks and start investing in the basics--our faculty, our students, our libraries. In lieu of these points, and perhaps filling the need to "say something new," I think Selingo commits the fallacy of arguing that Silicon Valley will solve all of our problems. As he well knows, adjuncts make up a large portion of the academic work force. Universities profit off their underpaid labor at a disturbing level. Meanwhile, upper administration salaries and positions have skyrocketed, as has spending on dorms, gyms, stadiums, and dining halls. I would've appreciated more discussion of the importance of adjunct pay at the end of the book (and I'm saying that as a TT professor, not a disgruntled adjunct with an axe to grind).

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    With a kid starting high school, this was a valuable read for me. I would probably give it a 4.5 stars for content in that it dives into some areas that I have not thought about too deeply before. I would give it slightly less than 4 stars for layout however. It seems to ramble through some sections and lack focus. That said, I think it was a valuable read for me and I'm glad I put the time into it. Positives: - Discussion of the cost of education per year and relative strength of school - Very val With a kid starting high school, this was a valuable read for me. I would probably give it a 4.5 stars for content in that it dives into some areas that I have not thought about too deeply before. I would give it slightly less than 4 stars for layout however. It seems to ramble through some sections and lack focus. That said, I think it was a valuable read for me and I'm glad I put the time into it. Positives: - Discussion of the cost of education per year and relative strength of school - Very valuable list of questions to be asking as looking at schools - Calculation discussion of Return on Investment for school - Explanation of the reasons for run away costs in education - Discussion of whether college even is the right fit at all Negatives: - A bit stale - A bit repetitive - Too general in application to students. I.E. covers low end students to high end students. Overall, I appreciate the work of this book and the questions it will guide me to ask as my child gets ready for college.

  26. 5 out of 5

    David

    good description of some of the major recent changes in higher ed, as well as the economic/behavioral factors motivating them. If you work at a college or follow higher ed closely in the news (yes and yes for me), most of this will not be new, but for any reader it's a thoughtful overview. student loan crisis, extremely variable graduation rates, complexities of transferring, impact of choice of major on lifetime earnings, rapid spread of massive open online courses and other "disruptive" technol good description of some of the major recent changes in higher ed, as well as the economic/behavioral factors motivating them. If you work at a college or follow higher ed closely in the news (yes and yes for me), most of this will not be new, but for any reader it's a thoughtful overview. student loan crisis, extremely variable graduation rates, complexities of transferring, impact of choice of major on lifetime earnings, rapid spread of massive open online courses and other "disruptive" technologies, boredom and poor attendance in large undergrad classes, seemingly unsustainable cross-subsidies (huge intro classes of tuition payers subsidizing costly small grad seminars or research.....); it's all here. He's clearly aware and admiring of what a life-changing experience college can be but also mindful that current prototype is failing to serve well and affordably a large % of students.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michellena

    Wow! When we opened a 529 for our kids less than 10 years ago, my husband (a state university grad) and I (a private university grad) realized that college was going to be drastically more expensive for our kids than it had been for us. When we started looking at colleges with our son last year (then a junior), we learned that it wasn't only the cost of school that had changed. Everything about it has changed and we found that weren't prepared to help our 18-year-old with his search and ultimate Wow! When we opened a 529 for our kids less than 10 years ago, my husband (a state university grad) and I (a private university grad) realized that college was going to be drastically more expensive for our kids than it had been for us. When we started looking at colleges with our son last year (then a junior), we learned that it wasn't only the cost of school that had changed. Everything about it has changed and we found that weren't prepared to help our 18-year-old with his search and ultimate decision. I found this book after some Google searches, and it has been very eye-opening and helpful to us. I highly recommend it for anyone with a child heading to college in the next few years. The last chapter has some good "checklist" items, but the rest of the book has useful information, too.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    I was expecting a book more about paths for young people who aren't planning on going to college. Instead, most of the book is about "the future of higher education." More & more online classes are being offered, and it many classes are free - though you can't get a degree with these classes. Perhaps certificates from online classes will be a way some people get educated for jobs in the future? One of the best parts of the book came after the conclusion where the author discussed specific college I was expecting a book more about paths for young people who aren't planning on going to college. Instead, most of the book is about "the future of higher education." More & more online classes are being offered, and it many classes are free - though you can't get a degree with these classes. Perhaps certificates from online classes will be a way some people get educated for jobs in the future? One of the best parts of the book came after the conclusion where the author discussed specific colleges & universities & how they do things uniquely. This was a great list & I plan on sharing it with my niece who goes off to school in a little over a year.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nils

    Trite, and annoyingly argued. Specifically, each chapter starts chapters with some humongous caveat, but then proceeds along his merry way: we mustn't think the only purpose of college is to boost earnings, he says, sententiously... But then spends a whole chapter discussing just that. We must appreciate the personal touch that college teachers provide, he says... but then spends a whole chapter cheerleading online education. Etc.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Brianna Clark

    This was a very accessible read, considering the subject matter. I was hoping it wouldn't be a dry read, full of boring facts and figures, and it wasn't. It was a compelling examination of the state of higher education in this country. There aren't enough students going to college to begin with, and a large percentage end up dropping out. Even the ones who graduate aren't learning as much as they should be. There is also the issue of student loan debt. The first section of the book, "How We Got This was a very accessible read, considering the subject matter. I was hoping it wouldn't be a dry read, full of boring facts and figures, and it wasn't. It was a compelling examination of the state of higher education in this country. There aren't enough students going to college to begin with, and a large percentage end up dropping out. Even the ones who graduate aren't learning as much as they should be. There is also the issue of student loan debt. The first section of the book, "How We Got Here", explains how this happened. The author calls the period from 1999-2009, "The Lost Decade" in the context of this subject. That's when colleges and universities lost their way, prioritizing the wrong things. Instead of preparing for what was coming---"fewer government dollars and a more diverse pipeline of students lacking academic skills but needing lots of financial aid", they spent that decade trying to improve their rankings and prestige. They did this by trying to entice high-achieving students to attend their schools, instead of their competitors, by offering generous scholarships and going into debt to provide amenities that had nothing to do with education. These amenities included luxurious dorms, (now called "residence halls"), movie theaters, and recreational facilities like climbing walls and the "lazy river". Besides being expensive, some of those amenities were also distractions from studying. Tuition increased to pay for all of the extravagance, and students were no longer viewed as students to be educated but instead were treated like customers the college wanted to please. The author also provides details about some really sordid aspects where greed enters the picture. He talks about "credential creep", and how some state governments add to their budgets by requiring certain professionals to have to take different "accredited" courses before they can sit for their licensing exams. Of course, the organizations that provide the "accreditation" for those courses have powerful lobbies. There is also a very disturbing section about financial aid officers getting gifts from lenders in exchange for the lenders being put on the school's "preferred lender" list for student loans. The list was given to students, who weren't required to choose a lender on the list, but most of them did. Some of the financial aid administrators had stock in the financial institutions they were recommending. Then, in 2008, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, and the resulting financial meltdown put an end to the "Lost Decade". Not only did colleges lose a large portion of their wealth when the stock market went into a tailspin, but so did state governments. So funding from the state budgets was also cut for state colleges, it wasn't just private institutions that were affected. Then there was also the attitude of the student population. They had a different attitude than previous generations of students. They expected to be entertained in their classes. The universities had started to view them as customers, and that was also how they viewed themselves. They were paying so much for their education, they felt entitled to "A"s, whether or not they had earned them. Grade inflation became rampant. By 2006, students were telling researchers the #1 reason they were attending college was to "get a better job". Before that, students said it was to "learn about things that interest me". The degree itself became more important than the actual learning. Another aspect of all this was the increasing reliance of colleges on adjunct teaching staff, instead of tenured professors. Students filled out evaluations of their adjuncts after their course was over, and the part-time teachers needed positive evaluations to get hired for the next semester. Easy graders got good reviews. Another interesting fact was how American colleges and universities now try to enroll as many foreign students as possible, from places like China, because the foreign students who come here to study can pay the full tuition. Anyway, there is much, much more. He then goes into all of the innovations and "disruptions" taking place in education, like online learning. The author does mention a few times that he's not sure if all of the technology being developed that provides more efficient and targeted learning is necessarily a good thing. For instance, software that would pinpoint exactly which classes a student should take for their aptitude and interests. He talks about how people sometimes come across an area of interest by accident, or make friends with a study partner that an algorithm wouldn't have considered to be a good match. He also talks about how college is more than just learning and acquiring credentials, but a period of time when students have experiences on campus and mature as a result. He does admit, though, that a four-year residential college right out of high school isn't the right fit for everyone. The book has a lot of different case studies of a diverse group of students, and how different approaches either worked or didn't work for them.

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