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145 of 150 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He Is Still the Best
If you ever hanker to think that your child may have been better off going to that school whose name everyone knows, pull out this book and read the first 20 pages and you will become instantly relaxed.

In a nutshell, Pope espouses that liberal arts undergraduate education in the Ivies is faltering, if not failing, but America has plenty of great liberal arts...
Published on August 17, 2006 by Miami Bob

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115 of 126 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Of some use, but caveat emptor
This is basically a guide to sometimes `overlooked' colleges. As such, its short write-ups on those colleges could prove useful to potential students. Many of the colleges named are fine institutions. Thus, this is one book among many that High School juniors and their parents might wish to consult. The financial information, however, is hit-and-miss. Tuition and...
Published on October 15, 2010 by Richard B. Schwartz


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145 of 150 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He Is Still the Best, August 17, 2006
By 
This review is from: Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges (Paperback)
If you ever hanker to think that your child may have been better off going to that school whose name everyone knows, pull out this book and read the first 20 pages and you will become instantly relaxed.

In a nutshell, Pope espouses that liberal arts undergraduate education in the Ivies is faltering, if not failing, but America has plenty of great liberal arts educational centers and they are at the numerous well established liberal arts colleges (LAC's) of America. Those LAC's and some "other" LAC's are great places for undergraduate education. Some of those "other" LAC's are the topic of this book.

This is the old book (Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools You Should Know About Even If You're Not a Straight-A Student) with quips at the end of the 40 schools which update his research of each respective institution. He has added passages at the end of the 40 schools to describe what has happened at some of the schools which makes his statement(s) of a decade ago as true or even truer than when originally written. In short, the LAC's of this book are not only still good schools, most are better schools than when he delivered their names in the original book.

He writes well. He is very persuasive. And, in the end, his arguments clearly show each school's strength through his writing skills and by the statistics recited throughout this book.

If you want more, there are two others on this same line of reasoning: The College Admissions Mystique by Bill Mayher and Looking Beyond the Ivy League: Finding the College That's Right for You by Loren Pope. If you think Ivy (for undergraduate) is the answer before reading these three books, you may discover a change of opinion after reading these books.
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68 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Advise families to read, January 11, 2007
By 
Mush (Clinton, WA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges (Paperback)
As an Independent Educational Consultant, I often give this book to my students that think they want to attend a big university or a name brand school. Often students fall through the cracks at these well-known schools, but the Colleges That Change Lives are nurturing environments that do not let students become just a number. If a student has graduate school aspirations, I especially recommend this book, because these schools have much better track records for preparing and having their students accepted into first choice graduate programs. One of the criteria for being in Colleges That Change Lives is a school cannot be too selective. Even though some of these schools have become quite popular from inclusion in this book, they still accept other than straight A students, because they firmly believe in the learning experience gained from the academic mix of students. This updated version is even more inspiring than the previous. These colleges really do change lives!
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115 of 126 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Of some use, but caveat emptor, October 15, 2010
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This review is from: Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges (Paperback)
This is basically a guide to sometimes `overlooked' colleges. As such, its short write-ups on those colleges could prove useful to potential students. Many of the colleges named are fine institutions. Thus, this is one book among many that High School juniors and their parents might wish to consult. The financial information, however, is hit-and-miss. Tuition and fees, room/board costs and scholarship resources are likely to be important to readers and this book is spotty with regard to those details. Much of the material is anecdotal and while that is always vivid and potentially helpful it runs the risk of being unrepresentative. The book's material on applicant pools, average SAT scores, acceptance and retention rates and so on is also hit-and-miss. My advice to potential students would be to begin with a large source book or data set that includes the financial, statistical, geographic, programmatic and demographic information in which they might be interested, then home in on a large number of schools. After that you can turn to books like Pope's which give information on the texture and ethos of a given institution. Then it's time for campus interviews, discussions with enrolled students, and closer, more personal examination.

Pope's book, it should be noted, has strong biases. His preference is for small institutions that are student-centered, i.e., institutions in which the faculty are principally teachers and not researchers, institutions in which the ethos is very `personal'. By and large, the institutions on which he focuses are less prestigious ones, institutions that `really want you' and will `really appreciate you'. There is no question that some `prestige' is relatively hollow, that statistics can be cooked and that some high-priced institutions do not return value for dollar. At the same time, there are institutions that are not prestigious for good reason. There are institutions that are desperate. There are institutions that offer high touch services in lieu of solid instruction, that balance their books by principally employing part-time faculty. Whether or not Pope's picks are overlooked jewels will also depend on the interests and needs of the individual student. Not all seek the hothouse, village environment. Some want a broader experience. Some want more exotic programmatic opportunities than small liberal arts colleges can provide.

The book indulges in some grotesque generalizations: ivy-league schools are scams; students are ignored there; there are no rewards for teaching there; professors do little or none of it; when they teach they only lecture to large groups; in many of these schools you will never be required to write a paper; half of your classes will be taught by adjuncts and many will barely be able to speak English . . . and so on.

There is some modicum of truth to these generalizations, but each ivy league school is different and each top-ranked college is different. I teach at an AAU-public, a land grant institution with far more modest tuition than the schools on Pope's list. We are a research institution, likely to be accused of the same sorts of crimes and misdemeanors which Pope finds in top private institutions. Many of our students participate directly in serious and significant faculty research projects that change their lives. Virtually all of the full-time faculty lecture from time to time and virtually all of them teach small classes. This semester I have a class of 29 and a class of 14. Several students are doing special projects (honors work, directed readings, capstone projects) with me. Good teaching is highly prized. We have multiple teaching awards that involve not insignificant financial remuneration. We have distinguished teachers appointed to special Curators' teaching professorships, system-wide awards, college awards, alumni/ae association awards and departmental awards, including awards for both professional advising and mentorship. Nearly all of the institutions against which we measure ourself do as well.

Part-time teaching is, indeed, a problem, though it is more likely to be a significant intellectual issue at marginal institutions, whose part-time teachers are often senior graduate students from local research universities or gypsy scholars seeking full-time positions elsewhere. On the other hand, dedicated part-time teachers can be of exceptional value. I spent 17 years as graduate dean at Georgetown. We had a number of programs (Public Policy, National Security Studies, e.g.) which drew on local professionals as part-time faculty. Students were taught by the individuals who actually generated the ideas or directed the programs which they were studying. There are adjuncts who are desperate for work and there are adjuncts who are otherwise-employed professionals who love to teach a single class and do it superbly well.

Each student is different and each student seeks an academic experience appropriate to that student's needs and desires. While higher education in America has problems it also offers great diversity in its institutions. Students are best advised to become highly-informed but also to seek an institution in which they themselves are most likely to flourish.
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92 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the only two books you need, August 15, 2006
By 
Mega Mom (Scarsdale, New York) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges (Paperback)
As a parent in the grips of high anxiety (I have a high school senior and I high school junior) I highly recommend this book. Although I am a bit concerned that these 40 schools are about to be swamped with applications, I think it will encourage familes to look for their own "schools that change lives." The other book I highly recommend is GETTING IN WITHIUT FREAKING OUT by Arlene Matthews. It is written for anxious, confused parents like me and lays out exactly what to worry about and what NOT to worry about as you and your kids negotiate every step if the school search and application process. The second book is also very reassuring and funny, which I appreciated.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Perspective, September 15, 2006
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This review is from: Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges (Paperback)
I first bought this book 1.5 years ago when I was researching colleges for my oldest son. It changed the way I looked at selecting colleges from my prior misconceptions that "bigger is better" (like large state schools) and "it has to have a well-known name to be any good." Pope succeeded in convincing me that not only are there invaluable advantages to smaller-size schools but that there is definitely something to be said for "liberal arts & science" institutions that offer a well-rounded curriculum. I was able to relax then because my son had no idea what he wanted to pursue. As a result of reading the book, my son is now attending Cornell College in Iowa where he is getting a wonderful education in small classes with caring instructors and an administration that "took me by the hand," upon his initial arrival as a freshman, & addressed all my fears and concerns about leaving my son with a bunch of strangers 4 hours away. Because the book includes little quantitative information (%'s of in- vs out-of-staters, tuition costs, % of students who graduate/return sophomore year/go to graduate school, etc.) you will need to supplement this book with another, such as the Fiske guide, to give you a basis of comparison across schools. Even if you don't select any of the schools mentioned, it is worth a read if for nothing else other than a refreshing perspective.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of information to consider and is thought provoking, August 27, 2006
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This review is from: Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges (Paperback)
I have a daughter ready to apply to colleges this fall and have found this book very helpful in planning and sorting through the myriad of information out there.

What I liked: Understanding the administration's vision, including teaching personnel's qualifications and the number of qualified competent undergraduates that each school can turn out is very helpful.

What this book doesn't tell you is the underlying student culture, the nuances of the location and the freshman return rate and other important considerations. So some of these schools sound absolutely too good to be true, but when you additionally use other resources to learn about the school's geographic location, what students say about their school, etc., you get a better picture of the college in it's entirety.

I commend the author who is investigating each college to discover the best intellectual powerhouses out there. In the end, it's the applying senior from high school that has to figure out which college or university is going to provide the best supportive and enriching environment in which to truly learn and grow!

Definitely get this book but do not use it solely to make your decision to attend a particular college named in this book.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I graduated from one of the 40 schools, November 19, 2006
By 
DustyFeet "dustyfeet" (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges (Paperback)
I actually graduated 25 years ago from one of those 40 schools Pope reviewed. Looking back, I do agree that although my college was not a "name brand" college, the education I got was like no other. They were formative years and as Pope says, I was "educated" not "trained".

Looking back to those days at college, I would attribute much good of what I am today to attending that Liberal Arts College. My graduate school, post college, was a Big Ten University. The difference? While the Big Ten U. was very "competitive" based, my experience at the Liberal Arts College mentioned in Pope's book was "collaborative".

Yes, I do agree that we are oversold on "brand-name" schools, and Pope's book would be a good guide to exploring your options. If you are thinking of sending your child to, or if you yourself are considering, college, then this book is a "must read" !!
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63 of 75 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much gushing and too little objectivity, December 19, 2006
This review is from: Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges (Paperback)
I might agree that the "Ivies" are over-rated but this book just gushes on and on about how wonderful these 40 schools are. All of them are perfect and idyllic and everyone who ever went to any of them is a wonderful success and had wonderful and life changing experience at the school.

Somehow, I have to think the real world is a little less rosy than the picture this book paints. If you read one of the school descriptions you've pretty much covered them all as only the names and the adjectives for "wonderful" and "idyllic" change. Basically, it reads as though these 40 schools got together and decided to save money by publishing one sales brochure that includes all of them.

Check this one out from the library, read the first couple of chapters, skim through the descriptions for a few schools and write down the school names from the table of contents. Now get online and see if you can actually learn something about the school aside from the "fact" that it's idyllic and wonderful.

PS. I'm not knocking the schools, just the book. A little less sales and a little more info would have been nice.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Essential Guide To Selecting A Good College, September 23, 2011
By 
Alan Houston (Texas, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges (Paperback)
"Colleges That Change Lives" is one of the four or five books that students and parents ought to read carefully when selecting a college. Loren Pope focuses on a type of college that was once the treasure of American higher education, but that has become almost forgotten in the era of "Big State U": the small private liberal arts college.

There are two sorts American colleges. The "Big State U" college model is for the first and second year college students to attend class in lecture halls with 100, 200 or 500 students where they take notes, make flash cards, and prepare for a computerized "true/false and multiple choice" exam. Even some of the Ivy League universities now use the "Big State U" model for undergraduate education, so that their faculty can focus most of their time and energy on research, writing and publishing, and on working with a small number of PhD graduate students. The "Big State U" model results in the majority of undergrads dropping out without a degree, and those who do graduate seldom have better thinking skills, analysis skills, or writing skills than they had on the day they enrolled.

The second model is the "classic" liberal arts education: 15 or 20 students around a table discussing, debating, and explaining their views. Education through participation, not education by rote memorization. Most classes involve writing a variety of short papers, longer research papers, and writing essay exams. Learning to formulate opinions, and then express those opinions in a group and through writing are the essential skills being developed.

And, at the small liberal arts college, everyone is a doer, not an bystander. Journalism students are publishing the newspaper, literature students are publishing a literary magazine, and male students are PLAYING sports, not sitting in the stands watching hired semi-pro players.

Pope does a wonderful job of examining 40 such small colleges and looking at the unique strengths of each. The weakness of focusing on just 40 colleges is that readers may not understand that there are another 150 or 200 small private liberal arts colleges that are just as good as the 40 that Pope featured.

The best way for parents and high school students to use Pope's book as a guide to how to think about colleges. After seeing what makes these 40 colleges exceptional, it is possible to look at other colleges and measure them against the standards of these 40 colleges. There are a number of books that cover "The Best 300 Colleges" or "The Best 500 Colleges". In those books you will find at least 150 or 200 small liberal arts colleges as good as the 40 in "Colleges That Change Lives". Those 200 colleges enroll less than 10% of America's college students, but they produce a very large share of high achievers in American business, government, and education. Pope gives you the analytical tools to identify those schools and to chose the best match for the personality, values and goals of each student.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book changed my son's life., February 9, 2007
By 
Dee Bee (By the sea, Massachusetts) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges (Paperback)
What a refreshing change from other college guides! This book neither gushes over the ultra-Ivies, nor chuckles at the party-hearty habits of the big universities; instead it offers hope to the average student, the learning disabled, and the late-blooming adolescent. It focuses on pointing readers in the direction of colleges that make a difference in the lives of young men and women and in the community at large. A chapter in the beginning entitled "Today's Learning Disabled Will Be Tomorrow's Gifted", while perhaps slightly over-optimistic, nevertheless opened my eyes to so many possibilities for my son. If you are a hopeful idealist looking to do something that matters in your life, or seeking to guide your underacheiving or learning challenged child and you're searching for a college that cares about its students and truly wants to admit the students who apply, do as I did and buy or borrow this book today.
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