The Five-Year Party: How Colleges Have Given Up on Educating Your Child and What You Can Do About It

( 3 )

Overview


ForeWord Book of the Year Award winner

"The Five-Year Party provides the most vivid portrait of college life since Tom Wolfe's 2004 novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons. The difference is that it isn't fiction. The alcohol-soaked, sex-saturated, drug-infested campuses that Mr. Brandon writes about are real. His book is a roadmap for parents on how to steer clear of the worst of them…. The Five-Year Party is a useful handbook for parents to pack when they take their teenager on a ...

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The Five-Year Party: How Colleges Have Given Up on Educating Your Child and What You Can Do About It

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Overview


ForeWord Book of the Year Award winner

"The Five-Year Party provides the most vivid portrait of college life since Tom Wolfe's 2004 novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons. The difference is that it isn't fiction. The alcohol-soaked, sex-saturated, drug-infested campuses that Mr. Brandon writes about are real. His book is a roadmap for parents on how to steer clear of the worst of them…. The Five-Year Party is a useful handbook for parents to pack when they take their teenager on a college tour, and its list of suggested questions is smart. My favorite: How many of the school's professors send their own children there?”
—The Wall Street Journal

“High costs and debt, insufficient instruction, dangerous campuses, and poor job prospects: for too many students, a five-year college party often turns into a lifelong nightmare. The Five-Year Party is packed with illuminating stories and details about this crisis situation, and helps readers to avoid the dangers and get the most for their money.”
—Marc Scheer, author, No Sucker Left Behind: Avoiding the Great College Rip-Off

"In one dismaying and maddening episode and circumstance after another, Craig Brandon's survey of college campuses sounds a vital warning for parents: 'The institutions and administrators you trust to foster and guide your children's formation are more interested in their pocketbooks than their intellects. Buyer beware!'"
—Mark Bauerlein, author of The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future

“After reading only a few pages of The Five-Year Party, I immediately started telling people about its important message. This crucial book exposes the consumer mentality now all too prevalent on college campuses, detailing how higher education has given students what they want at the expense of giving them what they need to compete in the global marketplace. Even better, the book tells parents and educators how this nefarious trend can be circumvented. Any parent who wants their college-bound teen to actually learn something for their heaps of tuition money should read this book.”
—Jean M. Twenge, author of Generation Me and co-author of The Narcissism Epidemic

"With broad, unforgiving strokes, Craig Brandon paints a dark picture of residential college life that will give every parent pause before sending a child off to any of his 'Party Schools.'"
—Barrett Seaman, author of Binge: Campus Life in an Age of Disconnection and Excess

Colleges look much the same as they did five or ten years ago, but a lot has changed behind the scenes. While some mixture of study and play has always been part of college life, an increasing number of schools have completely abandoned the idea that students need to learn or demonstrate that they've learned. Financial pressures have made college administrations increasingly reluctant to flunk anyone out, regardless of performance, although the average length of time to get a degree is now five years, and for many students it's six or more. Student evaluations of professors—often linked to promotion and tenure decisions—have made professors realize that applying tough standards, or any standards, only hurts their own career progress. For many professors, it's become easier and more rewarding to focus on giving entertaining lectures and to give everyone reasonably good grades.

The worst of these schools are the "subprime" colleges, where performance standards and accountability have been completely abandoned. Students enjoy a five year party with minimal responsibilities while their parents pay the bills. These schools' investment decisions (first-class gyms and dining centers) are all geared to attracting students that want to have a good time, and their brochures all emphasize the fun aspects of the college experience—there are very few pictures of students actually studying or in class. And after graduation, former students are frequently unable to find work in their chosen fields, thanks to their school’s reputation with employers, and unable to afford the payments on sizable student loans.

The subprime colleges, which "teach" a significant percentage of college students, are only the tip of the iceberg. All colleges, even the most elite, have moved in this direction to some extent. If you are a parent sending your child to college, "The Five-Year Party" will give you critical information you need about what is really happening at your child's college, and what you can do to ensure help your child gets a real education.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The Five-Year Party provides the most vivid portrait of college life since Tom Wolfe's 2004 novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons. The difference is that it isn't fiction. The alcohol-soaked, sex-saturated, drug-infested campuses that Mr. Brandon writes about are real. His book is a roadmap for parents on how to steer clear of the worst of them…. The Five-Year Party is a useful handbook for parents to pack when they take their teenager on a college tour, and its list of suggested questions is smart. My favorite: How many of the school's professors send their own children there?”
—The Wall Street Journal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781935251804
  • Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/17/2010
  • Pages: 236
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Craig Brandon is the author of five books and a former education reporter and college writing teacher. His writing has won awards sponsored by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the National School Boards Association, the Associated Press and first prize in investigative reporting from the Education Writers Association. He lectures frequently on topics connected with his books and has appeared on the History Channel, PBS and “Unsolved Mysteries.”

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Table of Contents

Introduction ix

Chapter 1 How Retention Replaced Education at America's Colleges 1

Chapter 2 Maximizing Profits at the Students' Expense 15

Chapter 3 How Education Became Optional 45

Chapter 4 Party School Perils 77

Chapter 5 An Obsession with Secrecy 111

Chapter 6 When the Party Ends and the Tab Comes Due 139

Chapter 7 How Parents Can Cancel the Five-Year Party 163

Appendix: The Red Flag List 195

Acknowledgments 203

Endnotes 207

Index 217

About the Author 235

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 1, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Eye-Opening

    The troubles that the higher education as a whole is finding itself in have been finding increasingly featured in the media and books in recent years. The exorbitant rise in tuition and other expenses, the ballooning college debt that has recently passed one trillion dollars, and the increasing irrelevance of college education in the modern workplace have all received a lot of attention lately. However, most of the accounts that I’ve come across focus on “good” schools – tope tier or close to top tier institutions that have a lot of name recognition throughout the US and the World. In “The Five-Year Party” Craig Brandon exposes us to an even more dysfunctional world of lower-ranked colleges and universities that are considered educational institutions now in name only. What he reveals is, to put it mildly, quite shocking.

    I’ve had the fortune to be educated and to teach at some fairly well regarded schools, and that experience has largely determined my view of US colleges and universities. To be sure, all of those schools, and the higher education in general, have their share of problems. However, even at the least academically challenging place that I was affiliated with the vast majority of students do get a pretty good education, and education is still (thankfully) understood to be the core purpose of institutions. I was frankly shocked to find out that many of the lower rung schools are nothing more than glorified diploma mills, with little or no academic standards, and with unscrupulous practices that are designed to take as much money out of students as possible. In this world “retention” becomes a key concept, and the academic standards and integrity are quickly sacrificed to this overarching goal.

    The title of this book refers to the segment of the higher education known as “party schools.” We’ve all heard that term, and most of us have a vague ide of the kind of places that it refers to. However, I would have liked to have it clearly defined from the get-go, and not to relegate the definition to one of the appendixes.

    I also wish that the author had included voices from administrators and faculty from many of the colleges that he talked about in the book. It is obvious that they would have had a very different take on many of the issues discussed here, but the inclusion of their voices would have given more overall credibility to this book.

    The book is very well written and thoroughly researched. It is filled with interesting and instructive examples, as well as very useful and actionable advice for future students and their parents. If you or someone you know is doing research on potential colleges to attend, you MUST read this book. It is an indispensible cautionary work.

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    Posted April 14, 2011

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    Posted October 24, 2010

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