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The Five-Year Party: How Colleges Have Given Up on Educating Your Child and What You Can Do About It Paperback – August 17, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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

About 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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: BenBella Books (August 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935251805
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935251804
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #908,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Loyd Eskildson HALL OF FAME on August 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
Craig Brandon is a former education reporter and former writing instructor at Keene State College in New Hampshire. Parents should be interested in this book vs. the question of whether they're getting their money's sworth. His focus is on the 10% of our 4,431 liberal-arts colleges categorized as 'party schools,' though many of his criticisms apply to highly-ranked universities. Only 305 of students in liberal-arts colleges graduate in four years, and about 60% require six years. Brandon contends that administrators at those schools, rather than tighten up and reduce the problems, take this as an opportunity to obtain more revenues. He is also bothered by dumbing down admission, inflating grades, and encouraging students to take out loans - all in an effort to increase the 'education market. Teaching becomes more about babysitting and joke telling than education, in some instances.

Brandon's thoughts are reinforced by Babcock and Marks' "Leisure College, USA." They report that in 1961, the average full-time student at a four-year college studied about 24 hours/week, vs. 14 today - less than half as much as universities claim to require. Their conclusion is that standards have fallen.

Tuition increases are too often spent in an inter-school 'arms race' for construction projects that include movie cineplexs, sports bars, rock climbing walls, and even add dorm concierges, valet parking, and steak and lobster for lunch. More seriously, crime is often underreported to maximize ratings, and job prospects can be daunting.

The Federal Educational rights and Privacy Act of 1974 made student grade reports off-limits to parents - why, in most instances they're paying for it?
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Format: Paperback
Thank goodness for this book. Since it was recently published, I hope it will gain popularity among the masses. I was looking so forward to going to college myself, only to be disappointed by the experience of undergraduate school. I went with a serious intent and found myself to be in the minority. That was during the early to mid '90s. Although the schools I attended weren't considered "party schools," I almost didn't finish because I couldn't stand the non-studious environments. Call me a "nerd" if you must, but now we have the atmosphere described by this book. What a waste of tuition money! But, as the book points out, the schools generate revenue.

I enjoyed graduate school much more because there was more maturity. People went with a purpose. But undergraduate school seems to be in danger of becoming the new high school. What a shame! And there's a prevailing "wisdom" that everybody "needs" to go to college.

Contrary to the book's title, I don't believe anybody should send a "child" to college. Call me picky with regard to words if you must, but we have too many "children" in college. Please send them only when they're grown up.
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Format: Paperback
"Any school can be a `party school' if you set your mind to it." At the time I thought the remark from my nephew was pretty funny. After all, at the time he was attending one of the schools that seems to make the top 10 list of party schools every year. Sadly, according to The Five-Year Party and its author Craig Brandon, too many students today are trying to prove my nephew right.

This book should be read by every parent in America and they need to read it when their kids are still in grade school. Grade school? Yes, grade school, because that is when kids' expectations and dreams about higher education begin, and it almost always involves a love for a college's football or basketball teams. And usually parents take an active role in encouraging their children's interest. The college in question may even be the alma mater of a parent. So what's so wrong with getting a child interested in a particular college at an early age? You'll find the answer, the frightening, depressing answer in The Five-Year Party.

Craig Brandon has crafted a well-written, comprehensive account of the multiple problems that have seriously compromised the mission of education of many (but not all) of our nation's colleges. It is hard to overstate the seriousness of these problems:

Alcohol Abuse - binge drinking is so commonplace that it severely limits the ability of many students to study, leading many freshmen to drop out. Rapes, largely a consequence of alcohol abuse, occur in frightening numbers, yet they rarely lead to prosecution or even school discipline. Crimes like rape (and assault) are under-reported and under-prosecuted, because the college's first impulse is to protect the image of the university.
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Format: Paperback
Wow! I wish I had read a book like this when my children were in high school. We assumed that the college track was the only one for eventual success. We didn't REALLY examine our children's inclinations, motivation, and maturity for choosing an appropriate career path. The explanations of how colleges function, as well as your advice to parents, could have helped us make a more educated appraisal of our children's strengths and needs. Knowing about the FERPA law & how it limits parents' access to information about one's child would have especially been helpful. ALL PARENTS SHOULD READ THIS BOOK!
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