College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be [NOOK Book]

Overview

As the commercialization of American higher education accelerates, more and more students are coming to college with the narrow aim of obtaining a preprofessional credential. The traditional four-year college experience--an exploratory time for students to discover their passions and test ideas and values with the help of teachers and peers--is in danger of becoming a thing of the past.

In College, prominent cultural critic Andrew Delbanco offers a trenchant defense of such an ...

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College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be

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Overview

As the commercialization of American higher education accelerates, more and more students are coming to college with the narrow aim of obtaining a preprofessional credential. The traditional four-year college experience--an exploratory time for students to discover their passions and test ideas and values with the help of teachers and peers--is in danger of becoming a thing of the past.

In College, prominent cultural critic Andrew Delbanco offers a trenchant defense of such an education, and warns that it is becoming a privilege reserved for the relatively rich. In arguing for what a true college education should be, he demonstrates why making it available to as many young people as possible remains central to America's democratic promise.

In a brisk and vivid historical narrative, Delbanco explains how the idea of college arose in the colonial period from the Puritan idea of the gathered church, how it struggled to survive in the nineteenth century in the shadow of the new research universities, and how, in the twentieth century, it slowly opened its doors to women, minorities, and students from low-income families. He describes the unique strengths of America's colleges in our era of globalization and, while recognizing the growing centrality of science, technology, and vocational subjects in the curriculum, he mounts a vigorous defense of a broadly humanistic education for all. Acknowledging the serious financial, intellectual, and ethical challenges that all colleges face today, Delbanco considers what is at stake in the urgent effort to protect these venerable institutions for future generations.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
At a time when many are trying to reduce the college years to a training period for economic competition, Delbanco reminds readers of the ideal of democratic education. . . . The American college is too important 'to be permitted to give up on its own ideals,' Delbanco writes. He has underscored these ideals by tracing their history. Like a great teacher, he has inspired us to try to live up to them.
— Michael S. Roth
New York Times
The book does have a thesis, but it is not thesis-ridden. It seeks to persuade not by driving a stake into the opponent's position or even paying much attention to it, but by offering us examples of the experience it celebrates. Delbanco's is not an argument for, but a display of, the value of a liberal arts education.
— Stanley Fish
New York Review of Books
A lucid, fair, and well-informed account of the problems, and it offers a full-throated defense of the idea that you don't go to college just to get a job. Delbanco's brevity, wit, and curiosity about the past and its lessons for the present give his book a humanity all too rare in the literature on universities.
— Anthony Grafton
The Nation
[I]nsightful and rewarding. . . . Delbanco's evocation of these nineteenth-century precedents is of central importance, for they allow him to demonstrate that liberal education, far from being an elite indulgence, is inseparable from our nation's most cherished and deeply rooted democratic precepts. In the face of today's hyper-accelerated, ultra-competitive global society, the preservation of opportunities for self-development and autonomous reflection is a value we underestimate at our peril.
— Richard Wolin
Booklist
To renew higher education in an age of secular pluralism, Delbanco summons his colleagues to a defense of the university's role in fostering humane and democratic impulses. . . . Delbanco's agenda for reform—curricular, pedagogical, financial, and technological—will stimulate a much-needed national dialogue.
— Bryce Christensen
American Prospect
Delbanco explores American higher education in a manner befitting a scholar of Melville and the Puritans, with a humanist's belief in lessons from history and in asking what the right thing is to do. . . . College has always been a microcosm of society, so a book about it is also about how we're doing as a country.
— Clare Malone
Newark Star-Ledger
The 'Was' part is an illuminating reminder of the Puritan origin of early colleges, such as Harvard and Princeton, where only wealthy males needed apply and where religion, literature and philosophy dominated the curricula. The 'Is' section considers the prohibitive cost, the woefully underprepared applicants, the self-centered teachers and the dominance of research over instruction of undergraduates at today's colleges. Obviously the 'Should Be' is Delbanco's motive in this effort. . . . He dreams of the day when college teachers are back in the classrooms, working collaboratively to bring their youngsters into this new century.
— Kathleen Daley
Times Higher Education
[College] will give a lot of pleasure to anyone who cares about undergraduate education. It offers a fascinating history of the creation and growth of US colleges and universities, some sombre reflections on the tension between the desire of many universities to be known as great research institutions and the needs of their undergraduates, and some angry thoughts about the way in which elite education reinforces economic inequality. . . . Delbanco writes with the exasperated energy of a radical assistant professor half his age, and displays an unforced affection for undergraduate students that is deeply engaging and permeates the book with an infectious optimism about the possibilities of liberal education in spite of all the obstacles that he lists.
— Alan Ryan
Kansas City Star
Refreshingly, Delbanco's examination of what college was doesn't turn into a longing backward look. . . . This book is a result of what Delbanco says is two decades of visiting more than 100 colleges of all types, from community colleges to the undergraduate divisions of research universities. It is also the product of extensive reading: He seems to have digested every self-flagellating and self-congratulating essay, every cri de coeur and jeremiad about higher ed that has been produced since scholars sat down together in collegium.
— Sebastian Stockman
Commonweal
This is a brief, well-researched book, and an insightful account of the factors that shape the current higher educational landscape.
— Dennis O'Brien
Cleveland Plain Dealer
[An] eloquent book—a combination of jeremiad, elegy and call to arms.
— Alan Cate
Inside Higher Ed

In College, [Delbanco] looks to the lengthy and dynamic history of higher education in America as a lens through which to examine its current crises and unsettled future.
— Serena Golden
Spiked Review of Books
'Every year the teacher gets older while the students stay the same age.' This has always been true, but Delbanco's observation has a poignant weight today when college is always justified as being for something, whether for the economy, or for democracy, or for social mobility, and not as a place that exists as a community asking questions together, trying to unify knowledge to make sense of our lives—in short, as a place where we pursue the truth.
— Angus Kennedy
Newark Star Ledger

The 'Was' part is an illuminating reminder of the Puritan origin of early colleges, such as Harvard and Princeton, where only wealthy males needed apply and where religion, literature and philosophy dominated the curricula. The 'Is' section considers the prohibitive cost, the woefully underprepared applicants, the self-centered teachers and the dominance of research over instruction of undergraduates at today's colleges. Obviously the 'Should Be' is Delbanco's motive in this effort. . . . He dreams of the day when college teachers are back in the classrooms, working collaboratively to bring their youngsters into this new century.
— Kathleen Daley
Teachers College Record
Andrew Delbanco does a marvelous job tracing the evolution of one of the most treasured institutions in the United States, 'college,' in terms of the ideal of such an institution and the challenges it is facing. . . . Delbanco's book would be a great one for students and scholars in the fields of educational philosophy, history of education, educational policy, and other related fields. It would also be a good read for anyone who is interested in the development of higher education in the United States.
— Shouping Hu
Wilson Quarterly
What commends [t]his book is its richness of reference and its willingness to charge colleges and universities with lapses that should sow insomnia among administrators.
— James Morris
Weekly Standard
College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be gives a clear picture of all the forces, both within and outside the university, working against the liberal arts.
— Joseph Epstein
America magazine
Andrew Delbanco's recent book is to be praised, for it reminds us that college should be about character formation and not a surrender to a customer service mentality that inflates accomplishments to please future employers, placate doting parents and repair fragile egos. . . . Enlightening.
— Robert J. Parmach
Inside Higher Ed.
In College, [Delbanco] looks to the lengthy and dynamic history of higher education in America as a lens through which to examine its current crises and unsettled future.
— Serena Golden
Inside Higher Ed...
In College, [Delbanco] looks to the lengthy and dynamic history of higher education in America as a lens through which to examine its current crises and unsettled future.
— Serena Golden
New York Times Book Review - Michael S. Roth
At a time when many are trying to reduce the college years to a training period for economic competition, Delbanco reminds readers of the ideal of democratic education. . . . The American college is too important 'to be permitted to give up on its own ideals,' Delbanco writes. He has underscored these ideals by tracing their history. Like a great teacher, he has inspired us to try to live up to them.
New York Times - Stanley Fish
The book does have a thesis, but it is not thesis-ridden. It seeks to persuade not by driving a stake into the opponent's position or even paying much attention to it, but by offering us examples of the experience it celebrates. Delbanco's is not an argument for, but a display of, the value of a liberal arts education.
New York Review of Books - Anthony Grafton
A lucid, fair, and well-informed account of the problems, and it offers a full-throated defense of the idea that you don't go to college just to get a job. Delbanco's brevity, wit, and curiosity about the past and its lessons for the present give his book a humanity all too rare in the literature on universities.
The Nation - Richard Wolin
[I]nsightful and rewarding. . . . Delbanco's evocation of these nineteenth-century precedents is of central importance, for they allow him to demonstrate that liberal education, far from being an elite indulgence, is inseparable from our nation's most cherished and deeply rooted democratic precepts. In the face of today's hyper-accelerated, ultra-competitive global society, the preservation of opportunities for self-development and autonomous reflection is a value we underestimate at our peril.
Booklist - Bryce Christensen
To renew higher education in an age of secular pluralism, Delbanco summons his colleagues to a defense of the university's role in fostering humane and democratic impulses. . . . Delbanco's agenda for reform—curricular, pedagogical, financial, and technological—will stimulate a much-needed national dialogue.
American Prospect - Clare Malone
Delbanco explores American higher education in a manner befitting a scholar of Melville and the Puritans, with a humanist's belief in lessons from history and in asking what the right thing is to do. . . . College has always been a microcosm of society, so a book about it is also about how we're doing as a country.
Vox Magazine, Missourian - Kacie Flynn
A thoughtful and insightful look at American college's exceptionalism and pitfalls. . . . Whether you're in college, thinking about college or just paying for it, it's a good read to help better understand one of America's oldest and finest institutions. And if we want it to stay that way, we all better get schooled about it.
Newark Star Ledger - Kathleen Daley
The 'Was' part is an illuminating reminder of the Puritan origin of early colleges, such as Harvard and Princeton, where only wealthy males needed apply and where religion, literature and philosophy dominated the curricula. The 'Is' section considers the prohibitive cost, the woefully underprepared applicants, the self-centered teachers and the dominance of research over instruction of undergraduates at today's colleges. Obviously the 'Should Be' is Delbanco's motive in this effort. . . . He dreams of the day when college teachers are back in the classrooms, working collaboratively to bring their youngsters into this new century.
Times Higher Education - Alan Ryan
[College] will give a lot of pleasure to anyone who cares about undergraduate education. It offers a fascinating history of the creation and growth of US colleges and universities, some sombre reflections on the tension between the desire of many universities to be known as great research institutions and the needs of their undergraduates, and some angry thoughts about the way in which elite education reinforces economic inequality. . . . Delbanco writes with the exasperated energy of a radical assistant professor half his age, and displays an unforced affection for undergraduate students that is deeply engaging and permeates the book with an infectious optimism about the possibilities of liberal education in spite of all the obstacles that he lists.
Kansas City Star - Sebastian Stockman
Refreshingly, Delbanco's examination of what college was doesn't turn into a longing backward look. . . . This book is a result of what Delbanco says is two decades of visiting more than 100 colleges of all types, from community colleges to the undergraduate divisions of research universities. It is also the product of extensive reading: He seems to have digested every self-flagellating and self-congratulating essay, every cri de coeur and jeremiad about higher ed that has been produced since scholars sat down together in collegium.
Commonweal - Dennis O'Brien
This is a brief, well-researched book, and an insightful account of the factors that shape the current higher educational landscape.
Cleveland Plain Dealer - Alan Cate
[An] eloquent book—a combination of jeremiad, elegy and call to arms.
Inside Higher Ed - Serena Golden
In College, [Delbanco] looks to the lengthy and dynamic history of higher education in America as a lens through which to examine its current crises and unsettled future.
Spiked Review of Books - Angus Kennedy
'Every year the teacher gets older while the students stay the same age.' This has always been true, but Delbanco's observation has a poignant weight today when college is always justified as being for something, whether for the economy, or for democracy, or for social mobility, and not as a place that exists as a community asking questions together, trying to unify knowledge to make sense of our lives—in short, as a place where we pursue the truth.
Teachers College Record - Shouping Hu
Andrew Delbanco does a marvelous job tracing the evolution of one of the most treasured institutions in the United States, 'college,' in terms of the ideal of such an institution and the challenges it is facing. . . . Delbanco's book would be a great one for students and scholars in the fields of educational philosophy, history of education, educational policy, and other related fields. It would also be a good read for anyone who is interested in the development of higher education in the United States.
Wilson Quarterly - James Morris
What commends [t]his book is its richness of reference and its willingness to charge colleges and universities with lapses that should sow insomnia among administrators.
Weekly Standard - Joseph Epstein
College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be gives a clear picture of all the forces, both within and outside the university, working against the liberal arts.
America magazine - Robert J. Parmach
Andrew Delbanco's recent book is to be praised, for it reminds us that college should be about character formation and not a surrender to a customer service mentality that inflates accomplishments to please future employers, placate doting parents and repair fragile egos. . . . Enlightening.
Choice
Well researched, succinct, and eloquently written, this little book should be in every library in every institution of higher learning. It would be an appropriate book for all new faculty members so that they can quickly come to understand the professional situation they are now in. . . . Delbanco's intention is to avoid writing a jeremiad, elegy, funeral dirge, or call to arms. He has succeeded. His realistic account of the current state of affairs is indeed sobering.
From the Publisher
"Andrew Delbanco's recent book is to be praised, for it reminds us that college should be about character formation and not a surrender to a customer service mentality that inflates accomplishments to please future employers, placate doting parents and repair fragile egos. . . . Enlightening."—Robert J. Parmach, America magazine

"Well researched, succinct, and eloquently written, this little book should be in every library in every institution of higher learning. It would be an appropriate book for all new faculty members so that they can quickly come to understand the professional situation they are now in. . . . Delbanco's intention is to avoid writing a jeremiad, elegy, funeral dirge, or call to arms. He has succeeded. His realistic account of the current state of affairs is indeed sobering."—Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400841578
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 3/22/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 884,178
  • File size: 1,023 KB

Meet the Author

Andrew Delbanco is the Mendelson Family Chair of American Studies and the Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. His many books include "Melville: His World and Work" (Vintage), which won the Lionel Trilling Award and was a finalist for the "Los Angeles Times" book prize in biography.
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Table of Contents

Preface xi
Introduction 1
Chapter One: What Is College For? 9
Chapter Two: Origins 36
Chapter Three: From College to University 67
Chapter Four: Who Went? Who Goes? Who Pays? 102
Chapter Five: Brave New World 125
Chapter Six: What Is to Be Done? 150
Acknowledgments 179
Notes 183
Index 215
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 47 )
Rating Distribution

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4 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 47 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2014

    Olivia to ppl here

    Suck. A. Di.ck.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2013

    Creepersssss rule them alllllll!!!!

    PLEASE DO NOT ADVERTISE YOUR STUPID HILGH SCHOOL ON ERIN HUNTER BOOKS~ Creeperheart

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2014

    Kevin

    Tall,18,black hair, make dirty jokes

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2014

    Codie

    Yeah but Im also glad im home. D.C. was fun but alabama is what im used to.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2014

    Julia

    Cool

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2014

    To Angel

    Hello my name is Squirrely. Looks: blonde curly hair, sky blue eyes, sun-tanned skin, 5"2'. Personality: respectful, cooperative, caring. Hobbies: drawing, writing books, reading, singing, playing basketball, and dancing.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2014

    Codie

    I saw it yesterday it followe the book well

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2014

    Lizzy

    On nook reviews i spell my name lizzi. Lm tall with brown hair eyes and skin. I live in boring old iowa where nothing interesting happens. Im single. I love to read journal write stories sing dance listen to music and write poetry.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2014

    Kevin

    Walks in

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2014

    Winter

    I am Winter Marie Haze. I am 17 years of age and am 5'4". I have long black hair, light violet eyes, olive skin toned, and a nose piercing. I have a snowflake tattoo on my wrist. I am very shy and extremely sweet. I can be emotional at times and am a very good listener. I love to draw, play the guitar, and sing.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2014

    Emma

    Brown hair blue eyes no bf yet sixteen yrs old caring hates math loves science and social studies For more ask plz

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2014

    Kiev

    Racw:black white . Male . Blak hair drk brown eyes . 6"1 ". Athletic reads plays basketball football baseball. Subjects history english . Hatws math ugh and thats alll i guess

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2014

    Hi

    Hi

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2014

    April

    Blue eyes, long black hair, very academic, single, female, don't even think about asking for an age.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2014

    Anya

    Can anybody explain this... i might wanna join

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2014

    Lil

    Welll.. my bio iss at school res 2 sorry but i write it too often and i bet i know some of you already lol:)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2014

    Angel

    Looks:Long silky blonde hair with blie eyes thin. Gender: female. Character: loves cooking drawing sinhing and especially poetry. Age: dont ask. If interested reply: to angel

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2014

    Lil

    Anybody here!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2014

    Any of u guys below wanna chat with me

    Im natani. :)

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