What is the value of a college degree?
The four-year college experience is as American as apple pie. So is the belief that higher education offers a ticket to a better life. But with student-loan debt surpassing the $1 trillion mark and unemployment of college graduates at historic highs, people are beginning to question that value.
In College (Un)Bound, Jeffrey J. Selingo, editor at large of the Chronicle of Higher Education, argues that America’s higher education system is broken. The great credentials race has turned universities into big businesses and fostered an environment where middle-tier colleges can command elite university-level tuitions while concealing staggeringly low graduation rates and churning out students with few of the skills needed for a rapidly evolving job market.
Selingo not only turns a critical eye on the current state of higher education but also predicts how technology will transform it for the better. Free massive online open courses (MOOCs) and hybrid classes, adaptive learning software, and the unbundling of traditional degree credits will increase access to high-quality education regardless of budget or location and tailor lesson plans to individual needs. One thing is certain: the class of 2020 will have a radically different college experience than their parents had.
Incisive, urgent, and controversial, College (Un)bound is a must-listen for prospective students, parents, and anyone concerned with the future of American higher education.
©2013 Jeffrey J. Selingo (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
There are a lot of interesting things about the state of higher education in the US, but instead of looking at a few things and really investigating those issues, the book tries to look at them all but only gets to a very superficial level and doesn't address obvious contradictory ideas among them. The result is that the ideas get confusing and the book lacks any kind of focus. Just when the book starts to discuss an interesting issue, it gets derailed onto a different issue or uses as anecdotes of an individual student that doesn't seem to bear much weight when looking at a system that includes millions of students.
I am only half way through the book, but feel compelled to write the review now. It is at best OK for what it is trying to do which is explain the problems with the US university system and layout a plan for the future to fix it, but it is interesting enough that I will complete the book soon. The author gives a lot of anecdotes and states that there are a bunch of problems. I do not think that he does a good job of demonstrating a correlation let alone proving a causation. For example, I learned that some university faculty make good salaries, and that many universities did a lot of construction in recent years, have set up research labs and provide students with many more amenities than in my day, etc. He also points out that college is getting very expensive. To my position in the book (and he has moved on to future innovations), he never broke down a single college budget to understand where the tuition goes.
He intermixes cause and effects from top tier private schools, premier statue universities, 2nd tier colleges and community colleges, but the various schools do not all have the same problems. Some consistency when trying to explain something would greatly add to the credibility. Judging by how the author describes gaining his insights by attending various conferences, visiting different schools and talking to a variety of interested parties for his job, the book feels like opinions versus a well researched topic.
The conclusions all pretty much seem intuitive and obvious. In my case, I feel like he is preaching to the choir. However, instead of further convincing me, this book makes me want to really dig into the detail to see what I am missing because it is all to obvious, and that detail is not in the book. I graduated almost 30 years ago, do not have kids and education is very much a 2nd tier interest, yet I have not learned anything that I did not really know. There are many specific examples which were totally new and that is the strength of the book. I was even familiar with many of the examples and descriptions of new and future technology. Maybe what I feel is that this book does an excellent job of pulling all these different topics that have hit either the mainstream or fringe media and describing them in detail, but does not attempt to quantitatively tie them all together.
There also feels like an "I am smarter than all these university presidents, parents, students and governments" vibe that I attribute mostly to the writing. However, there is something in the tone of the narrator that also makes that feeling stand out.
All that being said, the book is interesting and I recommend it. I suggest keeping your mind open and contemplate what it is not telling you.
Audible obsessed lifelong learner.
An inside look at how our education system is evolving via our technology centric, always connected, and domination of a academia geared towards success rate of passing students rather than what the student learns or how successful they are in the job market after leaving school.
As a father of a soon-to-be high school senior about to embark on the whole college application and admissions quagmire, this book was of acute interest to me. There's definitely information I found helpful and enlightening such why the differences in out-of-state tuition and in-state tuition. Never really understood why the big disparity. But there were moments during the listen that I wondering if I had accidentally hit a rewind button or something on my phone as the exact same information was being read. This happened several times, even the sentence structure was the same or very similar.
I also take issue with early on in the book, the author talks about how families and students take on debt to attend the college of their choice when they would have been better served choosing the community college route and transfer after two years. Also if you aren't attending a very top school for your chosen major, that it not worth taking on debt to attend an expensive school that ranked second tier in that field. Then later in the book, he states that students should bypass their state school package even if it completely covers the costs of attending to go to an out-of-state school that's strong in your major. But earlier he talks about degree creep, where a Master's is the new Bachelor and your major isn't that important anyway, it's about critical thinking skill development. Not to mention the time spent discussing the emerging and cheaper online options and making them sound like a great alternative, only to later talk about the on-campus experience and development from adolescence into adulthood and the value of studying abroad.
So what are you saying....Confusing!?!?!
As another reviewer wrote, I found myself wanting to research more after finishing this book. It covers soo many topics within the subject but in presenting all these pieces I found myself getting frustrated with soo many contradictions.
The future of college education seems to be on the horizon for some and already here for many others. I have listen to this book once and on my second listen because the information is critical for my family's teens and 'tweens to know now. The future of college education seems to be in "online courses" or a combination of online and on campus, which means less money spent and to some extent, the best education that money can buy. Some of the Ivy League colleges and universities are getting on the bandwagon even though they continue to tout the physical campus as the best "experience" for the student.
According to this author, some colleges and universities are holding on to the "status quo" because their jobs are on the line. I liked what this author had to say and he gave plenty of supportive evidence to backup his premise.
Fred Stella's narration is a good fit for the material... his voice and tone keeps your head in the book. A good read for anybody who is interested in the future of college degrees: i.e., the bachelor's degree is now the high school diploma and the ph.d is becoming the master's degree! So, how does a student standout from the crowd of bachelor's or master's degrees? The author had a couple of suggestions on that too. Good info.
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