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The Faculty Lounges: And Other Reasons Why You Won't Get The College Education You Pay For

2011 nonfiction book by Naomi Schaefer Riley

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Undergraduates are getting less and less bang for their buck.

  • Mar 15, 2011
Have you ever wondered why tuition charges at private colleges have risen two and one half times in inflation-adjusted dollars since 1982?  Are you aware that undergraduate students are actually being forced to foot the bill for a wide array of excesses on campuses all across this nation?   And did you know that a large percentage of the tenured professors at our colleges and universities spend considerably more time doing research and writing than instructing your son or daughter?  If you suspect that things are a bit out of whack in the world of higher education then may I suggest author Naomi Shaefer Riley's 2011 expose "The Faculty Lounges:  And Other Reasons Why You Won't Get The College Education You Paid For".  This little book will quickly get you up to speed as to just what is going on on college campuses all across the nation.  It is compelling reading.

Perhaps the hottest topic discussed in "The Faculty Lounges" is whether or not tenure should be eliminated.  Despite the fact that both of her parents were professors Naomi Schaefer Riley has come to the conclusion that the time has come to do just that.  Riley believes that the tenure system increases costs and demonstrates why it often results in inferior classroom instruction as well.  While highly compensated tenured faculty are off engaging in research and writing projects many undergraduate courses are being taught by grossly underpaid part-time adjunct professors and by graduate students.  This is certainly one of the major reasons why students are not getting the quality college education they are paying so handsomely for.  Furthermore, it is just not who is doing the teaching but what is being taught that increasing numbers of people are concerned about.  Those professors who support tenure often cite "academic freedom" as the major reason tenure is needed. In response to this argument Riley points out that over the past three decades this so-called "academic freedom" has led to the rapid expansion of  such exotic majors as "area, ethnic, cultural and gender studies".  These are certainly not conventional academic courses of study and one wonders what the endgame is for those who teach them.  Are were really preparing these students for the real world or simply indoctrinating them with a radical political philosophy?  I know if I were were a parent I would want answers to these questions.  As an alternative to "tenure" Riley appears to favor multi-year contracts for deserving faculty.  But you can be sure that any move to get rid of tenure will be be fought vigorously by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).  Finally, the author explains why military schools and many religious institutions tend to shy away from offering tenure to their faculty. The logic seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Naomi Schaefer Riley has dubbed the final chapter of her book "Follow The Money". It is here that you will discover the driving forces behind the ever-escalating cost of a college education. Aside from spending tons of money subsiding the trivial research and publication of its tenured faculty college administrators are guilty of what Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordabilty and Productivity calls the "country-clubization of the American university". Just take a look around at some of the amenities now being offered on college campuses. You will find state-of the art gym facilities, restaurant-quality cafeteria food, and extremely posh dormitories. What does all of this have to do with education? Is it really necessary? Is anybody learning anything useful? Does anybody care?

If you are the parent of a prospective college student then I would urge you to pick up a copy of "The Faculty Lounges: And Other Reasons Why You Won't Get The College Education You Paid For". It has been more than 35 years since I have been an undergraduate and I discovered how much things have changed out there.  It is a real eye-opener!   And as I indicated earlier this is a great way to get up to speed on all of these troubling issues.  This is a well written and extremely informative book. Highly recommended! 
Undergraduates are getting less and less bang for their buck. Undergraduates are getting less and less bang for their buck. Undergraduates are getting less and less bang for their buck. Undergraduates are getting less and less bang for their buck.

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March 21, 2011
Very interesting book, but I seriously doubt the emergence of "area, ethnic, cultural and gender studies" is motivated by those with a penchant for indoctrination. Having went to UCLA, we certainly enjoy all the aforementioned amenities, and I agree that schools should budget their projects and funds better and more efficiently to serve the academic needs of its students and maintain the integrity of the institution as a place of higher learning, but I hardly believe using those facets as a scapegoat for America's less-than-stellar college education system is appropriate nor accurate. Thanks for the review! ^_^
March 15, 2011
I agree with @, I'm finishing up my degree- I had started my college career on campus and now, I'm online. I have found that I have gotten much more bang for my buck in the offline educational world than the on-campus one. I actually would be hard pressed to prove how my undergraduate studies relate to my current field. I was hired at both of my jobs from my past work experience, not from my degree. That being said, the true travesty is how a BA or BS degree is being treated in today's job search, like a high school diploma. So, often times, students will go into debt for something that won't give them that much of a higher pay raise than a high school diploma or an Associates degree. Now, you have to get a Masters or Doctorate in order to get a managerial position in many fields. Truthfully, I can go on and on and I won't. I enjoy that there are other classes to take and that there are a lot of classes available but, I think we should start demanding that teachers teach our children and ourselves instead of try to further their own gain.
March 15, 2011
The environment has changed dramatically since I graduated from Rhode Island College back in 1975. For one thing I was paying about $300 or $400 per semester! Imagine that! Also, I was a liberal arts major and the idea in those days was to get a well-rounded education and to expose yourself to a number of different academic disciplines and not necessarily to prepare yourself for a job. I still like that concept but not at $20000 a year. With all of the marvelous technology available to us today I believe that most adults can educate themselves in many areas. And finally, I agree wholeheartedy with Naomi Schaefer Riley and others in the book who point out that college campus have become country clubs. It seems to me that all of these amenities would only serve as a distraction. Thanks for your input!
March 16, 2011
Wow! $300-$400 a semester?!? I wish! That's what I've paid for textbooks! I studied at a liberal arts school and enjoy the philosophy that we should have a well rounded education, one in which we are knowledgeable in a plethora of subjects instead of a sole focus on making money. I also agree that campuses are more like country clubs, thanks for the post!
March 15, 2011
I was recently talking about this with my husband and friends. I have a Bachelors degree, my husband does not have one. I'm the one with student loans galore that I will be paying for a few more years, this is despite the fact I received a lot of scholarships and financial aid! I think he is the wiser one for not wanting to get an education. Honestly, everything I needed to know for my job would have been learned much faster learning in the field. Of course I would have to start at the lowest level job at an architectural firm, but at least I would have been getting paid in the process, not having to pay for a so called 'education'. There was very little I learned in my classes that I used at my job. Really the only truly valuable experience were the internships that were required, without that my degree would have been useless. I could have gotten an internship without paying $17,000 a year!
About the reviewer
Paul Tognetti ()
Ranked #2
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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ISBN-10: 1566638860
ISBN-13: 978-1566638869
Publisher: Ivan R. Dee, Publisher
Date Published: June 16, 2011

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