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Crazy U: One Dad's Crash Course in Getting His Kid Into College Hardcover – March 1, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Ferguson (Land of Lincoln), an editor at the Weekly Standard, chronicles his son's journey to getting accepted into college in this humorous memoir. Ferguson, an overwhelmed and underprepared parent, shows off his wit and research skills as he tries to make sense of a serpentine system that has him debating if he needs to hire his own ,000-a-year college admission counselor. From there, Ferguson discusses everything from what lengths schools will go to rate highly in the U.S. News & World Report college rankings guide to an outline of the "history of American higher education." In all this digging, Ferguson finds the many "claims for and against" the SATs, how the skyrocketing cost of college is creating its own education bubble, and that "two out of every three" freshman openings are filled before a "general" applicant even gets considered. Still, despite the funny moment like his disastrous retake of the SATs, it isn't till the book's final chapters, when the author starts to connect with his son, that it becomes apparent what they truly learned together on their quest for higher education. (Mar.)
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"A hilarious narrative and an incisive guide to the college admissions process...Ferguson's storytelling is irresistible."
--Steven Levingston, The Washington Post
"Hilarious....[Ferguson] shines a (very funny) light on the issues, and offers an important reminder that not every young American needs a $200,000 degree to live a good life." --Amy Scribner, Bookpage.com
A calm, amusing, low-key meditation on a subject that is anything but calm, amusing or low key. [P]arents will grip it ... as if it were a cold compress they might apply to their fevered foreheads. --Dwight Garner, The New York Times
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At the same time, Crazy U is an analytic survey of key aspects of contemporary university `life', business and economics. Ferguson has done his homework. In his discussions of several elements of the now-run-as-a-business university (the history of the SAT's, their uses and abuses; the USNews rankings, the academic admissions counseling industry; financial aid and the pomps and works of the FAFSA; ever-rising tuition and the helicopter parents hovering over the process) the analysis is spot-on. Ferguson is, in part, a humorist, but he is also a professional reporter and his discussions of key aspects of the ways of modern higher education in America are both acute and, in general, precise and on the mark. The statistical data is deployed with a light touch, but it is there and it is accurate.
So read the book as a personal account of a crazy process and, along the way, learn about modern (or sometimes postmodern) higher education in detail. This is a quick read but it is packed with information along with the smiles and tears.
Great book if this experience is about to become part of your life. Suggest you read it in your kid's freshman year!
His obsession with making sure his son had every bit of available information led him to buy stacks of books about colleges, more books about the application process, and to then talk with experts or anyone else with a shred of useful information.
Of course, due to his obsession, he failed to see that his son was far less interested in this process than dad.
Ferguson 's son simply wanted to attend a nearby public university, and he proceeded to do so.
Ferguson shines a light on how obsessed parents can be exploited: the countless books of advice, the SAT review courses, the professional "College Essay" coaches. He describes how some colleges exploit the frenzy by mailing "Please apply... you are the sort of student we want" letters to thousands of high school students. Their goal is to increase the number of students they reject so they will appear more selective which raises their rank on the annual "Best Colleges" list.
Mr. Ferguson's son had the correct approach. Just focus on having a productive junior and senior year, apply to colleges that appeal to you that are within the family budget, and then relax.
There are about 200 colleges in America that turn away well qualified students. The other 3,000 colleges have plenty of room for anyone qualified to attend college and many fill half of their entering class with students whose primary qualification is their check did not bounce.
I could relate to everything the author went through and I can see that happening to us but having read the book I will be better prepared and less anxious.
I wish all parents have the happy endings that the author had.