From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Kamenetz, author of the alarming personal finance expose Generation Debt, drops another bombshell on the emerging cohort of young Americans, this time regarding higher education. While she mounts a standard (though illuminating) attack on spiraling tuition and the bottomless pit of student loans, Kamenetz also questions the fundamental assumptions of modern American education culture: the twin, contradictory ideas that college must be universally accessible, and that the smallest accepted denomination of educational currency is a bachelor's degree from a four-year, liberal arts institution. Kamenetz explores those ideas' fallacies as they play out daily in American classrooms, as well as students' myriad alternatives, from community colleges to online learning collectives. In great detail, Kamenetz explains the flawed economic models that underpin higher education, the faulty premises they maintain and the government's failures to address them. Kamenetz's approach is methodical and balanced, showcasing extensive research and thoughtfulness, while acknowledging one of the chief problems with reform: no one wants to experiment on their own child. This volume merits consideration from high school students and their parents, as well as educators preparing a generation for uncertain job prospects, an information economy still in its infancy, and the steady erosion of geographical barriers.
Kamenetz (Generation Debt, 2006) tackles the U.S. higher education system. Starting with a history of college development, she delves into how poverty, race, and class converge in the halls of higher learning. She then asserts that everything about how we live and what we hope for is tied into the collegiate dream of success, which has been persistently sold to the American middle class. But why hasn’t this promise been fulfilled for so many? Kamenetz pinpoints political reasons, and makes the case that serious changes must be made pertaining to how colleges serve their students and make their money to prevent a decrease in the value of college degrees and a widening gap between social classes. Kamenetz offers many statistics and studies to back up her statements, yet she moves so quickly from one to the next, and this is such a short book for such a weighty topic, it ends up being a useful introductory summary rather than a source of in-depth conclusions. --Colleen Mondor