Category Archives: Observations

Reviews and Comments…BOOOOOO!

Okay, so we all know that is a book review site…right?

I had to read the Higher Education ? for my Higher Education Policy class and honestly, I had to put it down a few times to regain perspective. When I started to feel sorry for the way faculty were portrayed in this book, I took a step back and put the book away. If any of you don’t already know, I work at a major Big 10 University and am up to my neck in faculty and their self-centered bullshit every damned day. So, while reading this book, you can imagine my unease when I started to side with the faculty in this author’s arguments. After finishing the book with a bad taste still in my mouth, I wrote the following review on goodreads.

Higher Education?: How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids—and What We Can Do About It
by Andrew Hacker, Claudia Dreifus
Suzanne M.’s review Jul 12, 13 ยท edit
1 of 5 stars
Read on July 11, 2013

Working in Higher Education, I have a unique perspective on the issues presented in this book. On many points, they present valid concerns. As in any industry there are those who take advantage of the system and those that work tireless for their chosen profession. Categorizing all faculty into the former grouping is unfair. The condescending tone of their arguments and the lack of statistical data make their arguments hard to back up, making them seem angry and petulant.

The authors of this book also make wide generalizations regarding the functioning of universities. I’ve found {from my own baseless observations – LOL} that most faculty (as the author is) rarely understand the actual administrative processes or the reasons behind them. So to make accusations about the appropriateness of spending is a spurious assumption, riddled with holes.

Hacker bases much of their observations on Ivy League institutions. As many aspire to emulate these universities and colleges, the reality is that the actual number of students attending those institutions are minuscule compared to the greater college going population. How does this relate to the actual problems facing higher education? This book also ignores one of the fundamental issues with higher education today. The students and the parents.

If someone is looking for an accurate and representation of higher education and the problems plaguing us, this is not the book.

Now, as some of you may notice, I commented more on the tone of the book than the actual points the author made. Although I agree with the author’s concerns in most cases (our higher education system and K-12 system does need a hard look) – not necessarily the solutions, I commented mostly on the tone of the writing and the unsubstantiated assumptions. The author states that he and his co-author did not do statistical data collection to back up their conclusions but instead contacted colleagues around the country to gather their information. The anger that came through clear as a bell in their writing and voice made it seem more like the author was angry at the system for personal reasons than some higher purpose or championing the rights of students. The authors of this book also spent a great deal of time on college athletics (without doing any research…might I add) and basically condemned the entire practice, suggesting that perhaps college athletics should be dissolved altogether. Not once did the author take into account that sometimes, an athletic scholarship is the only way some kids are able to go to college. That was very aggravating.

A day or so goes by and then I get an email from goodreads. Someone has commented on my review. What?!? I was very excited and went straight to goodreads. I rarely post reviews (mostly because I can’t be bothered or don’t have the time. The book has to either be fantastic or suck big donkey balls for me to post an actual review), so when someone commented, I was ridiculously excited to see what they thought. Then I opened goodreads and read this…

message 1: by Peter Jul 13, 2013 03:58am
Peter I haven’t read the book and wouldn’t dispute your characterization of it, but it’s clear from where I stand as someone who studied the history of higher education for his Ph.D. and then taught in three institutions that higher education is led by people who are intent on preserving their privileged status at the expense of students and taxpayers. The fact is that the reality of education for too many students does not come close to the stated mission of the institutions they attend. As a result there needs to be an open national discussion about higher ed with the hopes that new leadership emerges and institutes needed reforms.

Okaaaaaay. So, here’s the thing. I wasn’t making a political statement. I didn’t even really discuss the state of higher education today and all the flaws in our educational system (cause believe me, there are quite a few). It was a simple book review. If you haven’t read the book…maybe you shouldn’t comment since you DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT! If you want to have a political discussion or a policy discussion, goodreads isn’t the place for that. Also, if your first statement is that you haven’t read the book on a book review site, that should be your first clue to not hit “post”.

Helicopter Parents! Really?!

Seriously, I get it. You gave birth to what you think is a genius prodigy that needs to be nurtured and protected. The reality of the situation is, you gave birth to a nitwit, 23 year old that can’t function without you. You’re in my office asking if your kid can be put in a class because he’s still sleeping. Does anyone else see a problem with that?

1. If your kid is 23, why the hell isn’t he sitting in my office talking about his schedule instead of you?

2. I can’t talk to you. The university and the government assumes that at 18 your kid is a full fledged adult – let alone 23. There are rules. Don’t get bitchy with me because you think you’re special and the rules don’t apply to you. They do! I realize you’re paying tuition but so what! There’s a little law called FERPA that won’t let me talk to you. Get over it!

3. Cut the damned umbilical cord people! Your kid is going to have to go into the world someday and you can’t be there to hold their hand. I’m not constructing a special orientation for you to figure out what your kid is supposed to do. You’re not attending this University or the program. LET THEM GO!

4. I’m not the student’s parent. It’s not my job to make sure your beloved Johnny or Joany gets their ass up out of bed and attends class. If their failing, there’s probably a reason for that and nobody don’t get an A for just showing the fuck up!

5. Just because you pay tuition doesn’t mean you can walk into my office and ask me if you can have the poster on my wall. Yeah! That just fucking happened! Your tuition dollars didn’t pay for the poster. Don’t give me a dirty look when I say no. Get used to that word, you’re going to be hearing it a lot.

6. I’m not there parent. Don’t call me to
a) go to their apartment to check on them
b) call to make sure their still alive
c) call their professors to see if they’ve been showing up
d) stalk them for you when they stop answering the phone

7. Okay, your kid hasn’t even shown up yet for their first day. Hasn’t even fucking shown up yet! The class your kid is trying to get into is full. Has been for a month because its an upper level class. I don’t really care that Johnny wants to make sure he has continuous language instruction from high school to college. Its not going to happen! Wanna know why? Your kid is at the bottom of the damned totem pole for scheduling, which means that all those upper level courses you’re so proud of Johnny for testing into are full long before his window scheduling opens. Yep that’s right! At some point Johnny is going to be stuck without a language class to take and he’ll have to take…God forbid…a literature course! GASP!

8. Your kid is getting a degree from Arts and Sciences. Its a liberal arts degree. Please don’t come into my office on day one or better yet, orientation day and ask me what kind of job a major in French will get little Joan! The answer is I don’t fucking know. I have a degree in Criminology, International Studies, and Russian and I’m an HR/Fiscal officer. What the hell does that tell you? More than likely, your kid is going to be working at McDonald’s while living with you but that’s beside the point. Little Joan isn’t enrolled in a vocational program. They’re enrolled in French! You want a successful career waiting for Little Joan when she graduates? Good Luck! We all wanted that.

9. Please don’t call the department office and swear at the department staff or the faculty. Neither of them have it out for your kid. More than likely, Little Johnny did something stupid that warrants whatever reaction he got. Guess what! He can’t copy shit off of Google and put it in his paper! Amazing…I know but that’s called plagiarism and violates academic misconduct. So calm down. Take a breath and actually let your kid suffer the consequences of his actions. Maybe they’ll learn something. That is why you sent them to college after all.

10. Last but certainly not least. Sometimes your kid needs to fail. That’s the only way they can learn how to pick themselves up and soldier on. So, stop calling to see if you can get their grade changed because Little Johnny’s grandpa died in 2010 and that really affected him. If you have a death in the family, do you get to slack off of work for months on end and turn in sub-par shit? NO! Your boss expects you to show up, do your job and function. Guess what, the world is going to expect that from Little Johnny or Joan too. So, let them fail. Maybe they’ll surprise you.

Thanks to my Della and Ashley for reminding me of some of the ridiculous shit that happens around here. Clearly, I blocked most of it out.