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.
Higher Education?: How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids---and What We Can Do About It Hardcover – August 3, 2010
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
Hacker, author of Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal, and Dreifus, who teaches in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, scathingly discuss the current state of American colleges and universities and argue that tenure and sabbaticals are outdated institutions that cost too much and serve poorly. The authors also claim that the cost of some schools and programs (medicine; sports) far outweighs the gain; teaching is a low priority, they say, blaming administration, committees, and amenities for the spiraling costs of Bachelor's degrees. Though they fail to mention how employment trends might affects students' choices, they do provide some suggestions for cost-cutting: reduce sports and travel of teams, kill tenure and reduce sabbaticals and research, and make medical schools and research centers independent institutions. While some good ideas can be pulled from the polemic, readers will be left waiting for a cool-headed, logical examination of our major institutions of learning. (Aug.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
No question the cost of college education is enormous. What is questionable is whether or not the education is worth the cost, according to sociologist Hacker and New York Times columnist Dreifus. Too many colleges have strayed from the mission to produce thinking adults and are instead focusing more on vocational education, they lament. After visiting colleges across the nation, prestigious and little known, the authors offer a thoughtful assessment. They criticize the “caste system” at many colleges and the power of the “professioriate,” which is used to make life easier for tenured professors, often by reducing their contact with and obligation to students. One result: while parents pay exorbitant tuition, many tenured professors are taking yearlong sabbaticals at full pay, leaving teaching assistants and visiting professors to do the actual teaching. Among other questionable practices: student-to-faculty ratios bloated by inclusion of administrative staff and diverting money from academics for the “amenities arms race.” The authors also identify schools that manage to put the solid ideals of liberal arts education first and give students and parents their money’s worth. --Vanessa Bush
Top customer reviews
Alas -- I feel most people go to college in order to train for a job; almost exclusively, I might add, rather than to also learn more about themselves and the world.
Over twelve chapters, they lay out the problems: high costs, too many administrators, too much focus on athletics, an overreliance on the exploitation of adjunct professors and too much focus on faculty that are good at research but not so skilled in teaching.
In the coda, they suggest some solutions:
(1) stop relying on loans (student debt is a massive problem)
(2) Engage students better in the classroom
(3) Less vocational majors for students (about 50% are in those majors)
(4) abolish tenure
(5) fewer sabbaticals, less research
(6) end exploitation of adjuncts (Bill O'Neill wrote in his "A Bubble in Time" that adjuncts agree not to teach, students agree not to learn and everyone gets high marks) -- the problem here is that adjuncts work a lot and get paid very little
(7) demand that the golden dozen deliver (parents should realize that their kids can get great educations from more than just the Ivy Leagues -- that said, those schools keep delivering high paying jobs to graduates)
(8) presidents as public servants -- college presidents do not need to be paid so extravagantly
(9) spin off research centers and medical schools away from undergraduate institutions (this will not happen)
(10) more on-line classes (I don't like this idea -- I teach online classes at Rutgers and I don't think students get near as much out of it as they would an in-person class)
(11) spread donations around -- rich schools keep getting donations, while other schools suffer (why would alumni want to donate to a school they didn't go to?)
It's an outstanding book that does a great job pointing out the problems and offering some solutions. Any involved in higher education would benefit from reading this book.
This book is the ultimate antidote to the US News rankings mania. If you can send your child to a top-rated school debt-free, without taking a massive dip into your life savings, go for it, if it's the right place for them. But if you can't, you won't feel guilty about it after putting this book down. You'll feel smart.
This is an especially good book for those of us who won't get need-based aid and would foot the quarter million dollar bill out-of-pocket at an elite school, or pay a discount price (oh, just $100K or so) for a less highly rated school. Instead of feeding this mania, money can be better put towards helping a kid with grad school, buy a home, or donating to any of the many charities desperately needing funds. These things will help your kid (or the world) far more than a fancy BA degree that financially stresses them, you, or both. Some kids with passions for research or nonprofit work are chasing high salaries instead, because of their debt loads for fancy degrees. And when you read what those funds really paid for at those schools, it's all the more sad.
Mr. Hacker could have paid more attention to those fine small colleges that still care about teaching undergraduate students. Colleges such as Reed, Wooster, Swarthmore and Lafayette offer first-year college students a high level of education, with just twenty or twenty-five students in a typical class, and even the highest ranking faculty members devote the majority of their time to teaching undergraduate students.
Law school faculty and medical school faculty report that many of the "Honors" graduates of "Big Name" universities lack even basic writing and thinking skills. That is NOT a complaint made about graduates of Reed or Swarthmore. The question is: why do taxpayers pour billions of dollars a year into "Football Factories" when that same investment could be used to actually provide a first-rate education to America's college students?