Orientation to College: Why College?

Orientation to College: A Reader on Becoming an Educated Person is a wonderful, wonderful book even if I did write it myself (with help from Betsy and Jane). It’s a collection of essays on the reasons for going to college; the nature of learning and how we develop personally, even as adults; and the relationships between learning and the workplace.

What it doesn’t discuss is the unrealistic dreams parents have for that college education. There is absolutely no guarantee that a college degree, even from one of the top schools, will help their children achieve them.  Many parents need to read this book and understand what learning is, how it can help and what a technical/professional will and won’t do. Parents encourage their children to study for a job at college and that’s not what college’s do best. Colleges can teach you to think and write and do research. Too many students are not interested or not ready to do that all day, everyday. Some want and need a professional/technical education first, and a liberal arts education when they are ready.

The next book I would like to write is for parents. How to realistically assess the quality of the college education they are paying for, or planning to pay for, and how to guide their children toward learning that help them become productive, self-supporting, socially conscious, happy adults. That learning is a life-long process; it’s never too late to go to college but it can be too early. And it can be meaningless.

Why College? would still talk about how important the liberal arts are and how important it is to learn to reason and thinking analytically, but it would also talk about the reasons not to go to college. Too many families are bankrupting themselves on tuition for children who have no business being there and the colleges know it. (You can see I’m on a rant about this.) For many, even a majority of  high school graduates, the time to go to college has not yet come.

In the meantime, Orientation to College will explain a lot about what college is and what it is not.

The Book Facts

Orientation to College is the second edition, expanded and revised with new readings. The emphasis of this text is to understand why we go to college and why the liberal arts are important as a foundation for all other studies. The readings also explain learning styles, deep learning versus memorization, and why the liberal arts are important for obtaining jobs in today’s new workplace. Many of the readings are appropriate for college-bound high school students, and certainly for parents too.

Orientation to College: A Reader on Becoming an Educated Person. Jane Shipton, Elizabeth Steltenpohl, and Sharon Villines.
 Second Edition. Wadsworth, Thomson Learning, 2004. 226 pp. Index. Bibliography. ISBN: 9780534599584.

At Amazon. In The College Success Series.

Irreverent and probably self-defeating thoughts:  Every time I get a royalty statement, it’s from a different publisher. Wadsworth’s College Success Series is still the imprint, but the checks are from Cengage Learning. I have not a clue if I even have an editor now and Cengage just filed for Chapter 11.

The book is being sold on Amazon for $109. There are no photographs. A few tables and graphs. No disk. No stickers even! I asked one of the string of 12 or so editors I’ve had on this book why the price was so high. She said it was because college bookstores are so badly managed that there is a lot of waste. They price high to cover their losses. If a college can’t manage a bookstore, or teach it’s students to be honest and industrious when working in the bookstore, why are parents paying a fortune in the belief that they are preparing their children life in the real world? Is that what we think of the real world?

Categories: Pass the Olives: A personal blog

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