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Choosing the Right College 2012-13: The Whole Truth about America's Top Schools Paperback – July 5, 2011

3.3 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Zmirak, the longtime editor of Choosing the Right College, is a recognized authority on America’s colleges and universities. A frequent guest on radio and television, he has written about higher education for USA Today, Investor’s Business Daily, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the American Spectator, the American Conservative, InsideCatholic.com, and many other publications. He is the author of several books, including Wilhelm Röpke: Swiss Localist, Global Economist (ISI Books), and has contributed to American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought. Zmirak received his B.A. from Yale University and his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University. Currently he serves as writer-in-residence at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in New Hampshire.

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Product Details

  • Series: Choosing the Right College
  • Paperback: 1047 pages
  • Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute; 8th ed. edition (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610170059
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610170055
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 7.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #642,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a consumer guide for those looking for a more traditional liberal arts education. Nowadays, those students tend to be conservative and moderate students - you know, the ideologically and intellectually "diverse," aka the untouchable. These students often learn early on that they have to be courageous and more willing to engage others who may disagree with them. They may be looking for a school that has not yet abandoned the mission to teach, much less teach anything to do with the Western tradition. Faculty who are not afraid to engage them, however laughable, regressive and benighted the students' views may be. This book provides some surprising direction for those who have such values. For everyone else, any college's viewbook will suffice.

The authors argue that there are many institutions that have not yet fully succumbed to rigid leftist intellectual orthodoxy. The really interesting part is that many of these schools are rather well-known and some even have sterling left-wing reputations. Yet they have departments that still offer dialogue and engagement, even with ideologically heterodox students. See for example, the chapters on Reed and UC Berkeley (yes, that one). There are others. Some very well-known and highly-regarded places are really trainwrecks when it comes to undergraduate education. All this was eye-opening for us. We confirmed much of what was said about those on my son's list of schools through personal visits.

The college search for the intellectually diverse student really comes down to a question of finding schools with institutional self-confidence and intellectual integrity.
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Format: Paperback
The authors of this book are cultural conservatives, and their agenda is conservative. The book makes this very clear, without any pretense of being neutral. They also achieve their goal quite admirably. With few exceptions, every major university in America is reviewed. This includes Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Notre Dame, Tulane, Ohio State, Texas A&M and more. Well known smaller liberal arts colleges, like Williams, Tufts, Davidson, Reed, Kenyon, St. Olaf, and Whitman are also covered along with some of the authors favorites like Thomas Aquinas College and Hillsdale.

The authors are devoted to a number of principles:

1 - Liberal arts education (as opposed to professional or pre-professional training)
2 - Core curriculum of required courses, especially those taught from an historical perspective
3 - Lack of liberal bias (they don't mind conservative bias much) in the classroom
4 - A campus which encourages free speech, particularly free speech by conservatives and Christians

The Editor in Chief, John Zmirak, is a conservative Catholic with a sense of humor. Take a look at the Amazon listings for his "The Bad Catholics Guide to..." books. The same humor occasionally shows itself here. Like most conservatives, he has little respect for the left, however he appears to have no real problems with either fundamentalist Christians (nor their colleges) or non-Christians.

Reviews of the colleges in this book are extensive and detailed, including recommendations on courses, and professors, which a conservative might wish to take in order to get a traditional liberal arts education (see they actually do not dislike the word "liberal").
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This is a great book, full of useful information both general and specific.

As the folks who gave it minimal star-ratings have noted, it is a conservative book - I'm pretty sure the title (Choosing the RIGHT College) should give that away. But it gives very helpful information, and is particularly of interest to those who are looking to spend four years getting an old-fashioned liberal arts education.
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I love this book! It is fun to read, and filled with useful information. Left-leaning people might not like it, but only if they don't want to hear other opinions on campus. This book helps you find colleges which support freedom of speech. It has a lot of other information that helps you get the "feel" of the school.
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Format: Paperback
Yet, very opinionated. If you don't know the difference between being biased and being opinionated, then perhaps you aren't as well educated as you think you are.

This book, CHOOSING THE RIGHT COLLEGE, is stridently conservative. It is not "right wing." It is not backward. It is not biased. Sarah Palin does not value education the way this book does.

Its obvious goal is to help serious conservatives choose an appropriate college for their children. Along the way it takes more than a few swipes at liberal concepts such as "diversity" and "multi-culturalism." A person would have to be exceedingly naive to think that the book is politically balanced. They would also be naive to think that college campuses are not already political battlefields.

One of the virtues of this book is that it does make clear that colleges are political battlefields. It is unsurprising that the left would be offended. They prefer to pretend that colleges are bastions of value neutral, open inquiry. That makes it easier to indoctrinate the students. Now, lest readers suspect me of bias, I should point out that there is a solid contingent on the right which simply has no use for ecology, despite overwhelming evidence of environmental degradation. So everybody, anywhere along the political spectrum, get your head out of the sand. Politics is practiced in the classroom. Let's talk about what to do about that.

The book is not biased, but it might very well be hypocritical, or slightly muddled. I am not so sure that it is as true to conservative principles as it claims. It actually is trying to advance at least four different sets of values, which are not necessarily compatible.
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