• Excellent Sheep

  • The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life
  • By: William Deresiewicz
  • Narrated by: Mel Foster
  • Length: 8 hrs and 34 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (434 ratings)

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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 listeners say about Excellent Sheep

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  • Overall
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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.

10 people found this helpful

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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 people found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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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?

2 people found this helpful

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Best In Class!

I pass this title to all I know with children

Please do the same thing for your friends and family.

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Enlightening. Boring narration. Worth the listen.

Good content with great use of statistics and analytics to introduce insightful data surrounding affluence, education, and socioeconomic mobility.

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can't recommend enough

bah bah to the black sheeps. 10/10 if you're considering listen/ reading don't consider just do.

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Intellectually underwhelming

It may have been a little preconceived but i expected a lot out of this book and it was a little disappointing. I think that it is a utopian view of how society could be if we funneled all our money into education and ignored everything else. He addresses meritocracy and the issues that come with but i think he cuts it a little short for the importance it has for his message. I highly suggest to read meritocracy trap and any jordan peterson book to round out the info you get from this book. Overall i think it’s a good read but felt a little shallow and incomplete

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Great book. Really made you think.

Realistically with how the world is today, this book accurately describes where we've come from and where we are going. This book has changed how I view my life. I have spent a majority of it pushing towards the same direction as my peers and after this book, I have changed how I think entirely. Worth a read.

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Required Reading Please!

This book should be given out as required reading at the first prenatal OB/ Gyn appointment to first time parents, again in Pre-K orientation, and then to all 7th grade students, high school freshmen, etc.

This sort of knocked me sideways honestly. In a good way. As my biggest regret in life was not being able to afford an elite education, I now am completely rethinking the education I was able to cobble together, complete with a sidebar move to Montana during undergrad.

We are doing it wrong in this country in so many arenas, and this book explains both how we got to a mediocre, entitled elite making all of our major policy decisions. And, how modern day parents and kids are being hoodwinked into and by the system of overparenting and a valueless and idealless education model.

Wow. Thanks Bill D. Looking forward to reading your book on artists next.