Books About America's Colleges

15 Books That Take American Eduction to Task is a post that at first glance is a bit depressing. For you education majors, some of these books may help with research into K-12 practices.

Let's take a look at the books devoted to college, they have some useful things to say about what you are doing right now!

No. 5 Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa:
Even with ever-higher tuition, more students are heading to college than ever before, but are they really getting the education they’re paying for? Sociology professors Richard Arum and Josipa Roska don’t think so. They have research that points to some disturbing trends in higher ed, including a study which found that 45% of students showed no improvement in key skills, including critical thinking and writing, between their first semester and the end of their second year. They believe that the current culture at most colleges doesn’t adequately value education, preferring to focus on raising their rankings rather than putting out a smart, capable batch of graduates each year.
In addition, some institutions feel they need to teach students "what" to think politically and morally as opposed to "how" to think (critical thinking). They often disguise "what" to think as "how" to think.

No. 9 Inside American Education: The Decline, the Deception, the Dogmas by Thomas Sowell:
This book by Thomas Sowell is aging (it was published in 1992), but sadly many of the problems he points to in it still exist in education today, 20 years later. Sowell posits that the American education system, from kindergarten through grad school is full of incompetency, alienation, and moral bankruptcy, railing especially hard on athletic scholarships, the publish-or-perish syndrome, and academic brainwashing. Readers should note that Sowell can be a bit extreme (and sometimes downright wrong), but that doesn’t make his primary criticisms of the education system any less scathing or true.
"Incompetency and moral bankruptcy" at American universities? Do you find that the school lives up to the promises it makes to you? Are you getting the quality of education you paid for?

No. 11 Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More by Derek Bok:
This book is another hard look at the American higher education system, this time from former Harvard president Derek Bok. As in the work of Arum and Roska, Bok showcases just how little many students learn during their college educations, lacking key skills in writing, reasoning, mathematics, and critical thinking. In fact, despite high tuition that supports new technology, more professors, and greater resources for students, there is little evidence to suggest that students are learning more and may in fact be taking away less from their college years (despite a much higher price tag).
Students are taking out more and more loans resulting in something resembling a house payment by the time they are finished, so caveat emptor.

Do you find that you are learning skills in the university that you will need when you enter the work force? Or do you think you are doing a lot of busy work?

What kinds of classes would you like to see offered at your university to help you get where you want to go in life?

P.S. Remember life isn't just about working. What kind of classes would you like to take to make your life more meaningful?


  1. Even though I am not at a University, but at a junior colllege, I don't belive that students are learning the life skills needed for life. I am a "returing student" at an older age I didn't do what most students do which is go to college right after high school. However the six years that I was not in school, I learned a lot of life lessons. I was on my own, so I learned how to build up financial credit, how to take care of myself and be completly independent. My younger brother however went to UCSC and completed school not knowing how to balance a check book. I think that there needs to be a class offered begining in high school that teaches students life skills, things they need to know everyday to get through life. I don't think what is being taught is a lot of buisy work, there is a lesson in everything. The kind of classes that I would like to see offered are life skill classes, that teach about everything from politics, to how to best manage student loans.
    The classes that I would like to see offered that would make my life more meaningful would be a class that focused on how to make your own life more meaningful. Such as how to turn off all the noise (T.V, people, cell phones) and just get back to silence. That was soemthing I had to teach myslef, and it has helped me a lot in life.

  2. When I was a kid, I use to think about college. The first thing use to come in my mind was big books. I thought in college the books are going to be very big and heavy. This thought always use to scare me. Books are boring. This is first thing comes in people’s mind before they hear the word books. People say,” Teachers can’t spell words sometimes.” What is happening to our education system here. I think teacher can play a very big role in students life. There are some teachers I had they wouldn’t talk to you , When asking questions will make them mad. I personally think when teachers are funny and talk to students. It makes a big different in studying. Most of the students do not like the teachers that’s why they don’t go to their class. Class environment should be fun , it should make kids comes to the class. Some kids go to school but don’t learn anything . I think learning should be fun .

  3. I never thought college would ever be this different, I did have the clue that college was going to be hard but not as independent as it is now. I'm only in junior college and the most shocking thing is the fact that books are more expensive then the actual tuition. I Never figured that book were going to be the main reason our money was going to be spend on. I feel like college would teach me a lot for for the work force. College is teaching me how to be more independent and even if its hard I still have to deal with it, and the work forces wont be as easy as college was. I also think that the classes here are great, every class here actually helps us on being independent. I would like to take a fun classes that will be easy to pass but I don't think It will actually happen.

  4. College now, there is a lot of work and a lot of studying. Thankfully, right now financial aid is paying for all this work. Right now, though I believe one class is just all busy work. It is not teaching me anything I'll need for outside college. My other classes are helping me improve my writing skills and analytical thinking. There are no other class I wish to see offered but there are one I wish to be removed. Right now, I do believe I am learning skills I will need for the work force and I do believe I am getting my moneys worth.

  5. I think that the college experience is definitely in line with the progression of cirriculum, from preschool on up through high school. The inherent value placed on certain subjects like math and science, that are necessary in their own right, have varying direct influence in the career paths of many students. I believe that critical thinking and reasoning should be taught more at every level of school. I also believe that high school and college should have required classes on life skills, like how to do taxes or how to prepare for a job interview. I think that the present collegiate atmosphere is spawning many young minds that are capable of learning but stuck in a rut of learning a little bit of everything (inefficiently) at one time. I think there are skills being taught that certainly have real world importance, like the ability to write and speak intelligently and how to work with a deadline, but I am of the opinion is that more necessary real world skills are being passed on for stereotypical textbook subjects.

  6. I m a university students and believe that, the classes I m taking right now will help me get a degree. Also, I know that not all the classes will going to help me with my job filed. So, I do not see any point of taking these classes and waste my money. I rather take all the classes which going to help me. Also it will save me money. I strongly believe that education system need to be improve and do not force students to take general requirement classes just for extra money. Students should be allowed to take their major classes during the first year of university. It will help students to get their degree in two years rather than four or five years.

  7. I'm a international students transferring from China. Compared with China and the United States, the university students are the same. If you want to study some knowledge what you are interested in, you can know it well in the university. However, you will waste your valuable four-year time when you don't want to study any what is useful for your future. The importance of education system relys on everyone's mind. In my mind, education system like university or college is good for your career. This is also the reason why I transfer to the United States. Study maybe not the duty for everyone, but it is the effective way for every who want to be successful to win their future.

  8. I'm currently a university student and i personally believe that these courses im taking are not helping me in the work force just a general back ground on the different areas I could look forward to in your work force , i believe that training and actually working gets you ready for your work field and these classes that we take introduces are field of study. Class that should be available are more hands on training and more into the field of study.Another thing is to shorten your time at a university two years instead of four or five not so many GE courses that are pointless to take because it gives us more time to mess up because were not doing anything that is actually towards are degree.

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  10. Although my major is health science and I plan on going into the medical field, I've decided to minor in criminal justice. I also would love to someday to take a political science course. Even though I hate politics, I think that it's important to keep up with what's going on in not only our country, but around the world. In regards to the classes I'm taking right now, which includes anatomy, english, and chemistry, I believe these classes will obviously be beneficial to me in the future because I obviously need to know science if I plan on being a doctor or PA. Looking back at a couple of the classes I've had to take, such as Library and General Studies, I don't know why these classes will be beneficial to my success in college and in the future.

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