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Publisher's Summary

As a professor at Yale, William Deresiewicz saw something that troubled him deeply. His students, some of the nation's brightest minds, were adrift when it came to the big questions: how to think critically and creatively, and how to find a sense of purpose.

Excellent Sheep takes a sharp look at the high-pressure conveyor belt that begins with parents and counselors who demand perfect grades and culminates in the skewed applications Deresiewicz saw firsthand as a member of Yale's admissions committee. As schools shift focus from the humanities to "practical" subjects like economics and computer science, students are losing the ability to think in innovative ways. Deresiewicz explains how college should be a time for self-discovery, when students can establish their own values and measures of success, so they can forge their own path. He addresses parents, students, educators, and anyone who's interested in the direction of American society, featuring quotes from real students and graduates he has corresponded with over the years, candidly exposing where the system is broken and clearly presenting solutions.

©2014 William Deresiewicz (P)2014 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"An urgent summons to a long-overdue debate over what universities do and how they do it." ( Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

skip the book read the essay

What would have made Excellent Sheep better?

brevity

What could William Deresiewicz have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

avoid speculation on the decline of western civilization

How could the performance have been better?

Narrator sounded like a whiny 50's radio announcer. Detracted greatly from the experience. It's likely the author would have done a better job, otherwise, should have hired Malcom Gladwell

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Excellent Sheep?

everything but the material directly relating to the current college admissions process and state of students.

Any additional comments?

not sure which is more absurd, the concept that the ivy league admissions process is leading to the decline of western civilization, or that a decent liberal arts education will prevent it.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • LL
  • United States
  • 06-22-15

Important, but oh so boring.

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I tried to read it, then to force myself to listen to it while driving.
It was excruciating. Silence reigned.

What does Mel Foster bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Mel was fine.

Was Excellent Sheep worth the listening time?

Sadly, I couldn't do it. The information is important but the material is so dry.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Important book occasionally becomes a screed.

This is a very important book. It is hard to finish because it seems repetitious, but the data provided is needed to reach the authors conclusions.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent book for parents with Juniors &/or Seniors looking at Colleges!!

Very good insight on helping your college age or soon to be college bound teenagers about the glory of not knowing EXACTLY what they want to do when they "grow up"! The beauty of a Liberal Arts Education and taking their time to figure it all out!! They have the rest of their lives to be grown ups, why hurry?!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

read before saving for kids college education

if I told you a book was going to save you $10,000 would you read it? how about $40,000?

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Raleigh
  • greensboro, NC, United States
  • 09-20-15

smart only counts for so much

? as a youth, did you live a strict prep school, ivy league life
? did you spend your childhood somewhere between boston and DC
? as an adult, do you now see that focused and driven lifestyle as overrated

william deresiewicz's book means to expose the inner workings of that life
as a new jersey, orthodox jew and yale ivy leaguer he knows it all too well
his relentless manifesto has an " the emperor has no clothes " quality to it

the limitations and omissions of the ivy league are neatly categorized
he even provides a recipe, by which the universities can recover their greatness
as you'd expect, it starts with finding faculty and students more like mr. deresiewicz

eastern prep schools and ivy league universities look their best from a distance
america is rotating away from its' former boston to washington, d.c. axis
each year, the traditional towers of academic privilege become a bit less relevant

? at the end of the day, who really values and esteems ivy league credentials
basically it's other ivy leaguers; they're all caught in an expensive feedback loop
once life provides distance or perspective, you see it all for what it really is

as mark twain and garrison keillor have said "...smart only counts for so much..."




2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Very interesting

Thought-provoking text that calls out the many failures of our educational system. Deresiewicz also offers solutions in addition to just pointing out the problems. Very interesting.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Perpetual Privilege

The book is thought provoking relative to the perpetuation of privilege among those in the correct class. The conclusions however left me uninspired. It is too simple to say we have enough money to fix this problem. Our choices not only require choosing correctly where to spend but undoing the growing bubble of public workers' pension entitlements. Silence concerning this trap created by our governing elite is suspiciously absent.
Overall I liked it because it made me think.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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This is a terrible book

This is probably the worst audio book I've ever purchased. Everthing about this book is bad.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful