Lower Ed


Book Description

More than two million students are enrolled in for-profit colleges, from the small family-run operations to the behemoths brandished on billboards, subway ads, and late-night commercials. These schools have been around just as long as their bucolic not-for-profit counterparts, yet shockingly little is known about why they have expanded so rapidly in recent years—during the so-called Wall Street era of for-profit colleges. In Lower Ed Tressie McMillan Cottom—a bold and rising public scholar, herself once a recruiter at two for-profit colleges—expertly parses the fraught dynamics of this big-money industry to show precisely how it is part and parcel of the growing inequality plaguing the country today. McMillan Cottom discloses the shrewd recruitment and marketing strategies that these schools deploy and explains how, despite the well-documented predatory practices of some and the campus closings of others, ending for-profit colleges won’t end the vulnerabilities that made them the fastest growing sector of higher education at the turn of the twenty-first century. And she doesn’t stop there. With sharp insight and deliberate acumen, McMillan Cottom delivers a comprehensive view of postsecondary for-profit education by illuminating the experiences of the everyday people behind the shareholder earnings, congressional battles, and student debt disasters. The relatable human stories in Lower Ed—from mothers struggling to pay for beauty school to working class guys seeking “good jobs” to accomplished professionals pursuing doctoral degrees—illustrate that the growth of for-profit colleges is inextricably linked to larger questions of race, gender, work, and the promise of opportunity in America. Drawing on more than one hundred interviews with students, employees, executives, and activists, Lower Ed tells the story of the benefits, pitfalls, and real costs of a for-profit education. It is a story about broken social contracts; about education transforming from a public interest to a private gain; and about all Americans and the challenges we face in our divided, unequal society.




Lower Ed


Book Description

Drawing on her personal experience as a former admissions counselor at two for-profit colleges and interviews with students, senior executives, and activists, Cottom explains the exorbitant price tags, the questionable credentials, and the lose-lose options for Americans seeking a better life.




Lower Ed


Book Description

"The best book yet on the complex lives and choices of for-profit students." —The New York Times Book Review As featured on The Daily Show, NPR's Marketplace, and Fresh Air, the "powerful, chilling tale" (Carol Anderson, author of White Rage) of higher education becoming an engine of social inequality “p>Lower Ed is quickly becoming the definitive book on the fastest-growing sector of higher education at the turn of the twenty-first century: for-profit colleges. With sharp insight and deliberate acumen, Tressie McMillan Cottom—a sociologist who was once a recruiter at two for-profit colleges—expertly parses the fraught dynamics of this big-money industry. Drawing on more than one hundred interviews with students, employees, executives, and activists, Lower Ed details the benefits, pitfalls, and real costs of the expansion of for-profit colleges. Now with a new foreword by Stephanie Kelton, economic advisor to Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign, this smart and essential book cuts to the very core of our nation's broken social contracts and the challenges we face in our divided, unequal society.




Paying for the Party


Book Description

Two young women, dormitory mates, embark on their education at a big state university. Five years later, one is earning a good salary at a prestigious accounting firm. With no loans to repay, she lives in a fashionable apartment with her fiancé. The other woman, saddled with burdensome debt and a low GPA, is still struggling to finish her degree in tourism. In an era of skyrocketing tuition and mounting concern over whether college is "worth it," Paying for the Party is an indispensable contribution to the dialogue assessing the state of American higher education. A powerful exposé of unmet obligations and misplaced priorities, it explains in vivid detail why so many leave college with so little to show for it. Drawing on findings from a five-year interview study, Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura Hamilton bring us to the campus of "MU," a flagship Midwestern public university, where we follow a group of women drawn into a culture of status seeking and sororities. Mapping different pathways available to MU students, the authors demonstrate that the most well-resourced and seductive route is a "party pathway" anchored in the Greek system and facilitated by the administration. This pathway exerts influence over the academic and social experiences of all students, and while it benefits the affluent and well-connected, Armstrong and Hamilton make clear how it seriously disadvantages the majority. Eye-opening and provocative, Paying for the Party reveals how outcomes can differ so dramatically for those whom universities enroll.




Bankers in the Ivory Tower


Book Description

Exposes the intimate relationship between big finance and higher education inequality in America. Elite colleges have long played a crucial role in maintaining social and class status in America while public universities have offered a major stepping-stone to new economic opportunities. However, as Charlie Eaton reveals in Bankers in the Ivory Tower, finance has played a central role in the widening inequality in recent decades, both in American higher education and in American society at large. With federal and state funding falling short, the US higher education system has become increasingly dependent on financial markets and the financiers that mediate them. Beginning in the 1980s, the government, colleges, students, and their families took on multiple new roles as financial investors, borrowers, and brokers. The turn to finance, however, has yielded wildly unequal results. At the top, ties to Wall Street help the most elite private schools achieve the greatest endowment growth through hedge fund investments and the support of wealthy donors. At the bottom, takeovers by private equity transform for-profit colleges into predatory organizations that leave disadvantaged students with massive loan debt and few educational benefits. And in the middle, public universities are squeezed between incentives to increase tuition and pressures to maintain access and affordability. Eaton chronicles these transformations, making clear for the first time just how tight the links are between powerful financiers and America’s unequal system of higher education.




Thick


Book Description

FINALIST FOR THE 2019 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD Named a notable book of 2019 by the New York Times Book Review, Chicago Tribune, Time, and The Guardian As featured by The Daily Show, NPR, PBS, CBC, Time, VIBE, Entertainment Weekly, Well-Read Black Girl, and Chris Hayes, "incisive, witty, and provocative essays" (Publishers Weekly) by one of the "most bracing thinkers on race, gender, and capitalism of our time" (Rebecca Traister) “Thick is sure to become a classic.” —The New York Times Book Review In eight highly praised treatises on beauty, media, money, and more, Tressie McMillan Cottom—award-winning professor and acclaimed author of Lower Ed—is unapologetically "thick": deemed "thick where I should have been thin, more where I should have been less," McMillan Cottom refuses to shy away from blending the personal with the political, from bringing her full self and voice to the fore of her analytical work. Thick "transforms narrative moments into analyses of whiteness, black misogyny, and status-signaling as means of survival for black women" (Los Angeles Review of Books) with "writing that is as deft as it is amusing" (Darnell L. Moore). This "transgressive, provocative, and brilliant" (Roxane Gay) collection cements McMillan Cottom's position as a public thinker capable of shedding new light on what the "personal essay" can do. She turns her chosen form into a showcase for her critical dexterity, investigating everything from Saturday Night Live, LinkedIn, and BBQ Becky to sexual violence, infant mortality, and Trump rallies. Collected in an indispensable volume that speaks to the everywoman and the erudite alike, these unforgettable essays never fail to be "painfully honest and gloriously affirming" and hold "a mirror to your soul and to that of America" (Dorothy Roberts).




Creating a Class


Book Description

In real life, Stevens is a professor at Stanford University. But for a year and a half, he worked in the admissions office of a bucolic New England college known for its high academic standards, beautiful campus, and social conscience. Ambitious high schoolers and savvy guidance counselors know that admission here is highly competitive. But creating classes, Stevens finds, is a lot more complicated than most people imagine.




Breaking Ranks


Book Description

Some colleges will do anything to improve their national ranking. That can be bad for their students—and for higher education. Since U.S. News & World Report first published a college ranking in 1983, the rankings industry has become a self-appointed judge, declaring winners and losers among America's colleges and universities. In this revealing account, Colin Diver shows how popular rankings have induced college applicants to focus solely on pedigree and prestige, while tempting educators to sacrifice academic integrity for short-term competitive advantage. By forcing colleges into standardized "best-college" hierarchies, he argues, rankings have threatened the institutional diversity, intellectual rigor, and social mobility that is the genius of American higher education. As a former university administrator who refused to play the game, Diver leads his readers on an engaging journey through the mysteries of college rankings, admissions, financial aid, spending policies, and academic practices. He explains how most dominant college rankings perpetuate views of higher education as a purely consumer good susceptible to unidimensional measures of brand value and prestige. Many rankings, he asserts, also undermine the moral authority of higher education by encouraging various forms of distorted behavior, misrepresentation, and outright cheating by ranked institutions. The recent Varsity Blues admissions scandal, for example, happened in part because affluent parents wanted to get their children into elite schools by any means necessary. Explaining what is most useful and important in evaluating colleges, Diver offers both college applicants and educators a guide to pursuing their highest academic goals, freed from the siren song of the "best-college" illusion. Ultimately, he reveals how to break ranks with a rankings industry that misleads its consumers, undermines academic values, and perpetuates social inequality.




Paying the Price


Book Description

A “bracing and well-argued” study of America’s college debt crisis—“necessary reading for anyone concerned about the fate of American higher education” (Kirkus). College is far too expensive for many people today, and the confusing mix of federal, state, institutional, and private financial aid leaves countless students without the resources they need to pay for it. In Paying the Price, education scholar Sara Goldrick-Rab reveals the devastating effect of these shortfalls. Goldrick-Rab examines a study of 3,000 students who used the support of federal aid and Pell Grants to enroll in public colleges and universities in Wisconsin in 2008. Half the students in the study left college without a degree, while less than 20 percent finished within five years. The cause of their problems, time and again, was lack of money. Unable to afford tuition, books, and living expenses, they worked too many hours at outside jobs, dropped classes, took time off to save money, and even went without adequate food or housing. In many heartbreaking cases, they simply left school—not with a degree, but with crippling debt. Goldrick-Rab combines that data with devastating stories of six individual students, whose struggles make clear the human and financial costs of our convoluted financial aid policies. In the final section of the book, Goldrick-Rab offers a range of possible solutions, from technical improvements to the financial aid application process, to a bold, public sector–focused “first degree free” program. "Honestly one of the most exciting books I've read, because [Goldrick-Rab has] solutions. It's a manual that I'd recommend to anyone out there, if you're a parent, if you're a teacher, if you're a student."—Trevor Noah, The Daily Show




Schools Betrayed


Book Description

Neckerman's analysis provides a welcome antidote to much of the historical literature on American education, which rarely examines actual policy choices....Segregation did harm blacks, as this fine book shows. Journal of American History --Book Jacket.