Synopses & Reviews
In spite of soaring tuition costs, more and more students go to college every year. A bachelorand#8217;s degree is now required for entry into a growing number of professions. And some parents begin planning for the expense of sending their kids to college when theyand#8217;re born. Almost everyone strives to go, but almost no one asks the fundamental question posed by Academically Adrift: are undergraduates really learning anything once they get there?
For a large proportion of students, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksaand#8217;s answer to that question is a definitive no. Their extensive research draws on survey responses, transcript data, and, for the first time, the state-of-the-art Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test administered to students in their first semester and then again at the end of their second year. According to their analysis of more than 2,300 undergraduates at twenty-four institutions, 45 percent of these students demonstrate no significant improvement in a range of skillsand#8212;including critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writingand#8212;during their first two years of college. As troubling as their findings are, Arum and Roksa argue that for many faculty and administrators they will come as no surpriseand#8212;instead, they are the expected result of a student body distracted by socializing or working and an institutional culture that puts undergraduate learning close to the bottom of the priority list.
Academically Adrift holds sobering lessons for students, faculty, administrators, policy makers, and parentsand#8212;all of whom are implicated in promoting or at least ignoring contemporary campus culture. Higher education faces crises on a number of fronts, but Arum and Roksaand#8217;s report that colleges are failing at their most basic mission will demand the attention of us all.
and#8220;A decade ago the United States led the world in the number of college graduates. Today this is no longer the case. Academically Adrift raises serious questions about the quality of the academic and social experiences of college students.and#160;Armed with extensive data and comprehensive analyses, the authors provide a series of compelling solutions for how colleges can reverse the tide and renew their emphases on learning.and#160;This first-rate book demonstrates why colleges, like Kand#8211;12 institutions, now more than ever require major reforms to sustain our democratic society.and#8221;
and#8220;This might be the most important book on higher education in a decade. Combined with studentsand#8217; limited effort and great disparities in benefits among students, Arum and Roksaand#8217;s findings raise questions that should have been raised long ago about who profits from college and what colleges need to do if they are to benefit new groups of students. In this new era of college for all, their analysis refocuses our attention on higher educationand#8217;s fundamental goals.and#8221;
andldquo;Itandrsquo;s hard to think of a study in the last decade that has had a bigger impact on public discourse about higher education and the internal workings of colleges and universities alike than has Academically Adrift.andrdquo;
"A damning indictment of the American higher-education system." Doug Lederman - Inside Higher Education
“The time, money, and effort thats required to educate college students helps explain why the findings are so shocking in a new blockbuster book—Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses
—that argues that many students aren't learning anything.”
Chronicle of Higher Education
“For a short book, it takes a major step towards evidence-based assessment of student learning. . . . All university managers might like to read 40 pages of this book a week for the next five weeks and produce a 20-page report on ‘Countering Academic Drift: Developing Critical Thinking in the University.”
U.S. News and World Report
“Whatever criticism this book provokes in the higher-education establishment, its value is enormous. The disconcerting findings of Arum and Roksa should resonate well beyond the academy.”
Times Higher Education
“Despite the book’s moderate proposals, some critics have painted this book as misguided punditry. Readers of Teacher-Scholar, however, would be remiss not to take this book seriously. Arum and Roska’s use and analysis of CLA data, although sometimes flawed, lift this book out of punditry and into serious scholarship. They show that almost half of college students do not improve on important skills that they should gain in their first years in college, and they convincingly connect this problem to the lack of academic rigor at many universities. Likewise, although their recommendations for more accountability are vague and incomplete, they raise an important question about whether we are entering a new era where the federal government or accrediting agencies will find new ways to hold universities accountable for learning outcomes. The future regulatory environment is uncertain and faculty members and administrators should take note of the growing critique of higher learning as well as these new conversations about accountability.” Wilson Quarterly
“Before reading this book, I took it for granted that colleges were doing a very good job.” Matthew Johnson - Teacher Scholar
“Seriously researched, rich in data, and sometimes adorned with dozens of tables that the uninitiated may find cryptic, works like…Academically Adrift (2011) by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa focus on particular aspects of the system. They excavate a world of ugly facts and unsatisfactory practices that has the gritty look and feel of reality—a reality that has little to do with the glossy hype of world university ratings….In Academically Adrift, Arum and Roksa paint a chilling portrait of what the university curriculum has become.”—New York Review of Books Bill Gates
and#8220;The follow-up to the much talked about, responded to, and reflected upon Academically Adrift
. . . . Highly recommended for faculty, staff, administrators, students, and parents. Of special interest is the chapter titled and#8216;A Way Forward,and#8217; which provides the authorsand#8217; recommendations for improving underandshy;graduate education based on their research.and#8221;
Few books have ever made their presence felt on college campusesand#8212;and newspaper opinion pagesand#8212;as quickly and thoroughly as Richard Arum and Josipa Roksaand#8217;s 2011 landmark study of undergraduatesand#8217; learning, socialization, and study habits, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. From the moment it was published, one thing was clear: no university could afford to ignore its well-documented and disturbing findings about the failings of undergraduate education.and#160;Now Arum and Roksa are back, and their new book follows the same cohort of undergraduates through the rest of their college careers and out into the working world. Built on interviews and detailed surveys of almost a thousand recent college graduates from a diverse range of colleges and universities, Aspiring Adults Adrift reveals a generation facing a difficult transition to adulthood. Recent graduates report trouble finding decent jobs and developing stable romantic relationships, as well as assuming civic and financial responsibilityand#8212;yet at the same time, they remain surprisingly hopeful and upbeat about their prospects.and#160;Analyzing these findings in light of studentsand#8217; performance on standardized tests of general collegiate skills, selectivity of institutions attended, and choice of major, Arum and Roksa not only map out the current state of a generation too often adrift, but enable us to examine the relationship between college experiences and tentative transitions to adulthood. Sure to be widely discussed, Aspiring Adults Adrift will compel us once again to re-examine the aims, approaches, and achievements of higher education.and#160;
Jeff Selingo, journalist and editor-in-chief of the Chronicle for Higher Education, argues that colleges can no longer sell a four-year degree as the ticket to success in life. College (Un)Bound exposes the dire pitfalls in the current state of higher education for anyone concerned with intellectual and financial future of America.
What is the value of a college degree?
The four-year college experience is as American as apple pie. So is the belief that higher education offers a ticket to a better life. But with student-loan debt surpassing the $1 trillion mark and unemployment of college graduates at historic highs, people are beginning to question that value.
In College (Un)bound, Jeffrey J. Selingo, editor at large of the Chronicle of Higher Education, argues that Americas higher education system is broken. The great credential race has turned universities into big business and fostered an environment where middle-tier colleges can command elite university-level tuition while concealing staggeringly low graduation rates, churning out graduates with few of the skills needed for a rapidly evolving job market.
Selingo not only turns a critical eye on the current state of higher education but also predicts how technology will transform it for the better. Free massive online open courses (MOOCs) and hybrid classes, adaptive learning software, and the unbundling of traditional degree credits will increase access to high-quality education regardless of budget or location and tailor lesson plans to individual needs. One thing is certain—the Class of 2020 will have a radically different college experience than their parents.
Incisive, urgent, and controversial, College (Un)bound is a must-read for prospective students, parents, and anyone concerned with the future of American higher education.
About the Author
JEFFREY J. SELINGO is the leading authority on higher education worldwide and editor at large for The Chronicle of Higher Education. He frequently speaks before national higher-education groups and appears regularly on regional and national radio and television programs, including NPR, PBS, ABC, MSNBC, and CBS. His writing on higher education and technology has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Huffington Post. The National Magazine Awards, Education Writers Association, Society of Professional Journalists, and the Associated Press have recognized him for his work. He is a senior fellow at Education Sector, an independent education policy think tank. www.jeffselingo.com
Table of Contents
HOW WE GOT HERE
1. The Great Credential Race 3
2. The Customer Is Always Right 19
3. The Trillion Dollar Problem 35
4. The 5 Disruptive Forces That Will Change Higher Education Forever 55
5. A Personalized Education 73
6. The Online Revolution 86
7. The Student Swirl 105
8. Degrees of Value 122
9. The Skills of the Future 142
10. Why College? 160
The Colleges of the Future 184
Checklist for the Future 207
About the Author 225