Customer Reviews for

Higher Education?: How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids---and What We Can Do About It

Average Rating 3.5
( 18 )
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  • Posted September 6, 2010

    Provocateurs

    I have been teaching & administering in universities for 30 years, and this book was a disturbing read. I expected to accumulate counterpoints or even amass a coherent negation of the argument. But as I read, the weight of their portrait of a system lost & self-serving [vs. serving] overwhelmed me. The authors offered plenty of examples of people and institutions attempting to provide excellent undergraduate education, but in the main, such were the exception. I stopped worrying about the exceptions or quibbles and accepted the basic argument. At the heart is a moral claim: our universities have diminished or discounted the task of educating young adults in pursuit of many alternatives. I have no reason to argue otherwise. I recommend this book, wonderfully written and argued, for parents and prospective college students - it could be a frightening read, but the authors offer some alternatives and modest hope. As for the folks in academia, I'd expect many will despise the book and argue each point, while discounting the whole (sometimes, the devil isn't in the details), but so much the worse for us. Can we argue on the whole, across this complex and varied system, that undergraduate students are at the center of our institutions or academic work?

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2011

    Interesting Statistics...This Book Should be Made into a Movie!

    This book is chock-full of facts about university president salaries, the money made (or not made) from college athletics, how admissions really works and so on. The authors analyze the business of college education and return on investment, which can't really be done in a short book like this but do keep you entertained. They list their Top 10 Favorite Colleges (and why, after researching for this book for several years) and the last chapter is their recommendations for how Higher Education could be better. Having worked in both the for-profit sector and higher education, I agree with some points here about the pace and culture and opportunities for making the undergraduate experience better; however, the authors don't acknowledge many positive changes that are already being made or present a realistic action plan. I would love to see this made into a movie so it could reach a huge audience of Americans, with the higher education officials able to present their side of the story since in many ways universities are run like a very tight ship, scrutinized more heavily than for-profit businesses. While the U.S. stock and real estate markets can collapse, universities operate conservatively since the principal in their endowments is not spent. Any parent or student about to choose a college and commit to student loans will likely find this book a good read. I also think this is a great book for boards of trustees and other university donors who can seize their opportunity to make a difference when they choose the projects to be funded or become priorities. For instance, the authors feel that adjunct instructors should make the same amount of money per class taught as full-time professors. Should a donor feel strongly about this, he or she could choose to direct a gift to such a purpose instead of a new facility or scholarships. The private sector has an ability and responsibility to keep universities focused on their missions. Overall this book gets you thinking - but there are two sides of the story.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 21, 2010

    If you love higher education, you have to read this

    This is a book that ought to be read by anyone who has a love for higher education in the U.S., as the authors clearly do. U.S. higher education is well regarded across the world and has many virtues. But the authors show that its affordability, especially to lower income students, is diminishing rapidly. They also document a number of issues which render it much less effective than it might be. Among them are: 1) the over emphasis on doctoral programs and generating publications at the expense of undergraduate teaching, 2) the ever increasing levels of "amenities," 3) tenure practices which lead to uniformity of ideas in institutions supposedly dedicated to intellectual originality, 4) the shameful treatment afforded to adjuncts, 5) the emphasis on professionalized sports, and 6) the overarching obsession with money. They also have some penetrating observations (backed by survey evidence) about the under-performance of even our "elite" institutions. The authors present a variety of ideas for dealing with these issues. It takes courage to suggest changes in venerable, well entrenched institutions. The authors deserve a great deal of credit for helping to bring a necessary debate out of the shadows.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 4, 2010

    Timely and Courageous!

    Critical reading for parents, students, educators and a public who is concerned about higher education. This bold and informative book raises thought proking questions and will, hopefully, stir the pot.

    Donna Kelsh

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2010

    wake-up call

    Once upon a time, higher education was seen as a public good in the US. Public universities, from CCNY to Michigan to the University of California, saw their mission as creating an educated population at low or no cost. That vision is now on life-support, as the top-down, profit-centered corporate model of education mirrors the inequalities of the larger society, with million-dollar salaries for some college presidents and ever-expanding administrative and research budgets, while students are taught by "wandering scholar" adjuncts. Hacker and Dreifus know their subject and lay it out for all to see.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2010

    Kinda useless

    It was overly simplistic and useless, as far as I am concerned. The thing that really bugged me was their approach to education as just another commodity. These two authors whine for 300 pages about the colleges selling us, the customers, a bad product for a lot of money. Well, if it were that simple.. it's a free market system, people. If a school found a way to offer great education on a cheap, they'd be swamped with applications. To capitalize on that success, those colleges would increase their enrollment. Then their classes would become overcrowded, they would have to initiate new construction (money!) and they would have to hire more cheap faculty (to keep the costs down), probably new PhDs from those "PhD factories". Many of those suckers may not be native English speakers, but that doesn't mean that they can't speak decent English, by the way (those two white New Yorkers are real snobs that way, bordering on racist).

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted September 22, 2010

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    Posted February 11, 2011

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    Posted August 26, 2010

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    Posted July 17, 2011

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