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College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students [Kindle Edition]

Jeffrey J. Selingo
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)

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Book Description

What is the value of a college degree?

The four-year college experience is as American as apple pie. So is the belief that higher education offers a ticket to a better life. But with student-loan debt surpassing the $1 trillion mark and unemployment of college graduates at historic highs, people are beginning to question that value.

In College (Un)bound, Jeffrey J. Selingo, editor at large of the Chronicle of Higher Education, argues that America’s higher education system is broken. The great credential race has turned universities into big business and fostered an environment where middle-tier colleges can command elite university-level tuition while concealing staggeringly low graduation rates, churning out graduates with few of the skills needed for a rapidly evolving job market.

Selingo not only turns a critical eye on the current state of higher education but also predicts how technology will transform it for the better. Free massive online open courses (MOOCs) and hybrid classes, adaptive learning software, and the unbundling of traditional degree credits will increase access to high-quality education regardless of budget or location and tailor lesson plans to individual needs. One thing is certain—the Class of 2020 will have a radically different college experience than their parents.

Incisive, urgent, and controversial, College (Un)bound is a must-read for prospective students, parents, and anyone concerned with the future of American higher education.

Editorial Reviews


"This eye-opening book tells an important and overlooked story about how higher education in America has lost its way. This is a must-read for both policymakers and anyone struggling with the decision of choosing a college." Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone

"For parents and their children looking for quality education, this book provides invaluable assistance by taking a clear-eyed view on what matters: excellence in teaching, a first-rate learning environment, and a commitment to preparing students for the job market." —Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group

"Part cultural critique, part trend-spotting, and part advice for students and parents navigating a flawed system. [College (Un)bound] delivers a powerful message to colleges themselves: the system is broken, and both their success as institutions and the future success of our workforce depends on their willingness to incorporate unbundled, lower-cost systems that allow students to customize their education." Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Once in a generation, a book forces us to reconsider the fundamentals of higher education—and College (Un)bound is that book for the Wireless Generation." —David L. Marcus, author of Acceptance

"[An] eye-opening look at the state of higher education…College (Un)bound is a must-read for everyone interested in higher education and how technology will revolutionize it in the coming years." –Sebastian Thrun, founder of Udacity

"Jeff Selingo is one of the most respected observers of American higher education. In College (Un)bound, he shares his in-depth observations of colleges and the environment in which we function. Not all will agree with his observations, conclusions, predictions and recommendations, but all will gain from this thoughtful, well-written, provocative volume. I highly recommend it." —David J. Skorton, President of Cornell University

"You can wade through the shelf full of books on the changes coming to American colleges and universities–or you can read this one." —Mitch Daniels, President of Purdue University and former Governor of Indiana

"America's higher ed system is at a crossroads today…Selingo introduces us to the students, teachers, and entrepreneurs who are rethinking our iconic vision of what college will mean for students in the next decade." —Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class

"Among the many books examining current changes in and challenges to higher education, College (Un)bound is both the most comprehensive and the most provocative." —Rebecca Chopp, President of Swarthmore College

"Jeffrey Selingo combines solid data with compelling anecdotes to produce a richly textured account of the transformations taking place in American higher education today. By illustrating larger trends with stories about their impact on individual students and families, his book offers precisely the kind of student-centered approach that he is advocating." —Alison Byerly, president-elect, Lafayette College

“[College (Un)bound] is a book that should be read by the parents of high school seniors, high school guidance counselors, university trustees, faculty and administrators; and most important—by potential college students themselves.” —Steve Trachtenberg, former president, George Washington University

"A mixture of alarm and hope, wisdom and portending."—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Jeffrey J. Selingo is a leading authority on higher education worldwide and editor at large for the Chronicle of Higher Education. He frequently speaks before national higher education groups and appears regularly on regional and national radio and television programs on NPR, PBS, ABC, MSNBC, and CBS. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Huffington Post.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1216 KB
  • Print Length: 261 pages
  • Publisher: Amazon Publishing (May 7, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B77UE06
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,434 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
220 of 230 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am a former college professor who left academia a year ago, in large part because I did not care for the trends I was seeing in higher education. So when I had the opportunity to review this book, I was eager to do so, especially given the background and expertise of the author, Jeffrey Selingo, who is the Editor at Large of the The Chronicle of Higher Education. I was hoping to find a balanced and nuanced review of the changes taking place in colleges today. Instead, this book--other than the obligatory criticisms of the high tuitions and large debt loads families are assuming these days to put their children through college--presents a largely glowing portrait of where college is heading.

Take, for example, the topic of online classes, which occupies a large part of Selingo's book. This is a hot trend in colleges today for two main reasons: Colleges make a bucketload of money off them, and students love them. Selingo obviously loves them, too, and he waxes eloquently at great length about their promise for delivering convenient and inexpensive courses to students. He notes on p.99 that "a vocal slice of professors and administrators remain skeptical" of online classes, even though "every new study of online learning" arrives at essentially the same conclusion that students perform better in online courses that traditional courses. This is only one small example of sweeping statements that Selingo makes without offering any supporting evidence, and it seriously distorts the actual state of the pedagogical research, because it is emphatically NOT true that every study supports the superiority, or even equality, of online classes compared to traditional classes.
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68 of 71 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Who Are U? April 21, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Let us start with a statement college professors, homeschool advocates, and Jeffrey Selingo can surely agree upon: American higher education is too expensive. Budget cuts have jacked tuition, schools spend scarce resources outside the classroom, administrative roles have become patronage plums, and deregulated loans put many working-class students in debt they may never beat. The question becomes: what do we do about it?

Books like this one matter, not because they attempt to answer the question, but because they advance the debate. No 250-page book can truly address all the options. Believe me, several noble attempts have crossed my desk. But they inevitably reflect the authors' preferences for what American education should resemble. Therein, maybe, lies the problem, that American higher ed has become perilously homogenous.

Selingo, a respected educational journalist, addresses the question from multiple angles, gathering diverse sources with divergent views, reflecting real trends in recent debate. Because he addresses so much, I find myself swinging wildly. At one moment, I pump my fist and shout "Yes! Yes! Yes!" Then the next moment, I palm my face and mutter "No! No! No!" Then I ask myself the real question: why do I feel so strongly?

Education, Selingo says, has suffered in the last decade from a "race to the top" that involves little actual educational content. Highly groomed campuses and pricey sports championships attract new enrollees and alumni donations. But colleges, particularly private colleges, have offset these expenses by hiring adjunct instructors, concentrating efforts on grant-earning grad students, and packing undergrads into lecture halls of questionable pedagogical value.
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138 of 153 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"The typical state university or research institution is the amalgamation of three different business models: a consulting firm that offers solutions (the university's research function), a manufacturer that adds value to a raw material (the teaching function), and an online auction site that facilitates networks (the life and career function)."
--Jeffrey Selingo, COLLEGE UNBOUND, p. 68

So Jeffrey Selingo is telling us that students are "raw materials" which gain value through the production process of "manufacturers" so that the finished product can be "auctioned" to employers as purchasers. If you can get your head around this conceptualization of education, you will be well on your way to understanding Selingo's argument (disjointed though it may be) in this book.

Higher education is, according to Selingo, broken. The whole system needs to be revamped from nearly the top (excluding the "elite" institutions, that is) to the bottom. And Selingo has been hanging out with just the educational entrepreneurs to do the job. If it's new-fangled and glossy and sizzling, Selingo is all for it. Everything else is just a relic of the entrenched status quo of universities stuck in their "traditional" methods which no longer serve the needs of twenty-first century students. Having heard most of these same market-based, "reform" arguments made about K-12 education, I'm already on my guard.

There are so many problems with higher education that I hardly know where to start, but one of the biggest problems Selingo seems to have is the "bundling" of services at colleges.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A required read for all parents of soon to be ...
A required read for all parents of soon to be college students, guidance counselors and higher education administrators. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Tweed W. Ross
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Learning but Hate Debt and Credentialism
As one who is married to a tenured engineering professor, has worked at a university on a temporary basis, and has 6 children, I can validate Selingo's observations about how... Read more
Published 3 days ago by Kschimmelwriter
5.0 out of 5 stars College Unbound
Well written and enlightening. The author has a great grasp on all the changes that are going on in higher education.
Published 27 days ago by dianne dentice
5.0 out of 5 stars Every parent of a high-school and middle-school student should read...
Book Review:

College (Un)bound
The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students
Jeffrey J. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Shannon Gonzalez
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good
Nothing earth-shattering, but I'm glad I read it as a new higher ed professional. There are definitely a few resources I will re-visit.
Published 1 month ago by Dave DiBiase
4.0 out of 5 stars All parents should read!
As the parent to several college bound children, I found this book important to read as well as very useful. Read more
Published 1 month ago by My So-Called Book Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars College is not affordable and for many not needed (though ...
College is not affordable and for many not needed (though they go into debt and overpay). Most students don't come out with the proper education they paid for. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Raymond E. Pinard
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Start(er)
I would view this book as a discussion starter. There's a lot of good information in here. Sometimes it goes in one direction, sometimes another. And the same for the book. Read more
Published 3 months ago by JR
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Really very good. The perspective worked well and mixed well with the research.
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and Brief
Multiple topics are covered from technology to work experience, most for a brief amount of time. Great for a general overlook into higher education.
Published 3 months ago by Tom
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More About the Author

Jeffrey J. Selingo is a leading authority on higher education worldwide and a contributing editor for "The Chronicle of Higher Education". He frequently speaks before national higher-education groups and appears regularly on regional and national radio and television programs, including NPR, PBS, ABC, MSNBC, and CBS. His writing on higher education and technology has appeared in the "New York Times", the "Washington Post", and the "Huffington Post". The National Magazine Awards, Education Writers Association, Society of Professional Journalists, and the Associated Press have recognized him for his work.

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