- Use promo code PRIMEBOOKS18 to save $5.00 when you spend $20.00 or more on Books offered by Amazon.com. Enter code PRIMEBOOKS18 at checkout. Here's how (restrictions apply)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students Hardcover – May 7, 2013
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Special offers and product promotions
"Selingo envisions a fundamental shift in how degrees are awarded — not on the basis of credit hours completed but on competency demonstrated. The colleges that survive will be those, in Selingo’s words, that ‘prove their worth.’” —The New York Times Book Review
"A compelling look at higher education. Selingo is critical, but he’s also encouraging. With so much time and money at stake, the issues he raises and the possibilities he explores are well worth your time." —The Washington Post
"For a book about complicated policy and economic trends, this one is very well told. Selingo moves seamlessly from legal and regulatory decisions to the real experiences of students." —The Washington Monthly
"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
"Parents should put College (Un)bound at the top of their lists…[it is an] indispensable guidebook to a rocky and shifting terrain." —The Plain Dealer
"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
If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $0.99 (Save 81%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.
For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases now lets you buy the Kindle edition for $2.99 or less. (Textbooks available for $9.99 or less.)
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
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. For example, the Community College Research Center at Columbia University has produced multiple studies showing that community college students who enroll in online courses are much more likely to fail or drop out compared to traditional classes. Another study following over 50,000 students in Washington found that students who took more online courses were less like to transfer to four year colleges or obtain degrees.
This research is not mentioned in Selingo's book, nor does he address the issue of cheating on online classes. While there are steps that instructors can take to ensure that students do the work themselves and don't cheat on online tests, these involve considerable effort on the part of the instructor (e.g., setting up webcam surveillance of the student while she/he is taking the test, or arranging for a proctored exam to be administered), and few instructors or faculty are inclined to do so. It is entirely possible for students to receive credit for online courses where they did none of the work (google "we take your class for you" for an eye-opening display of companies openly advertising to cheat on online classes). Of course, cheating takes place in traditional classes. The difference is that the online setting makes it easier to do so.
Another disturbing aspect to the increase in online courses is that, too often, they are less rigorous than traditional classes. This is, in fact, a major reason so many students like online courses so much: They often require much less time and effort than a traditional course. I've had students tell me that they've completed an online course in two days, by going straight to the quizzes and searching the readings/lectures for key terms in the questions.
It is possible to design an online course that is rigorous, not susceptible to cheating, and offers the same intellectual challenge and exchange of ideas with faculty and peers that you can find in a traditional classroom. But such course are the exception, not the norm. And the enthusiastic endorsement of the online revolution without acknowledging these weaknesses is, in my opinion, a major flaw of the book.
The future of higher education, as Selingo sees it, is a system where students receive a more customized and flexible experience, with most students obtaining a degree through some combination of online courses, credentials offered for completing MOOCs or other "life experience," transfers across institutions, and internships. While I agree with the author that such a system would likely result in a larger number of students receiving an undergraduate degree, I don't agree that this is a future to be desired. On p. 24 the author argues that there has been a "systematic dumbing down of college campuses" and that "while the price of a degree is increasing, the amount of learning needed to get that piece of paper is moving in the opposite direction." I agree with this sentiment strongly, actually, but I also don't see the solutions embraced by Selingo as improving matters any.
That being said, the author writes well, and he does an excellent job of capturing the changing face of higher education. In particular, the first section of his book ("How We Got Here") is an excellent if disturbing summary of where higher education has gone wrong in recent decades. I just wish that the rest of the book had taken a more critical and balanced look at the unintended consequences and disadvantages of the changes he endorses so enthusiastically.
This is not an in-depth economic analysis, nor does it attempt to deeply diagnose "causal" factors. Rather, it is a very readable and easily understood piece of work, and I imagine it could be very informative for both families with college-bound kids, and over-worked high school guidance counselors as they seek to advise students. Workers (college educated or otherwise) who want to retool their skills or keep themselves relevant in a global economy could also learn some very practical approaches for accessing learning opportunities. The set of institution-specific innovations and new models at the end of the book could be particularly effective at helping students, parents, and workers understand the realm of possibilities -- today, and into the future. Perhaps it should be included on summer reading lists for high school students -- especially those kids who would be first-generation college goers.
I wish the book would have gone more deeply into the structural implications of where we might be headed (though this has been written about in more scholarly venues). I worry that the average citizen does not appreciate the role of research in higher education, and the implications of reduced federal funding for research. We are conceivably starving an entire generation of early-career faculty who will become the next generation of thought leaders and Nobel laureates, Most families (and congressional representatives and state legislators!) point to the inflation rate of tuition and fees as a deep cause for concern -- and it is. But, some/much of this inflation is driven by reduced funding in other areas -- appropriations in state institutions or economic downturns that impact the endowments of the less-elite private institutions. As university research funding also becomes more constrained, the creation of new knowledge will slow. The clarity and accessibility of Selingo's writing, combined with his depth of understanding, provide an opportunity to educate a lay audience on the implications of a changing higher ed business model.
All in all, a very informative read that I can easily recommend.