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Book Review: Higher Education: How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money And Failing Our Kids by Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus

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Higher Education: How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids by Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus is a call to action for the nation’s colleges which are becoming more and more unaffordable to the middle class and the poor. Hacker explains that education has now become a half trillion dollar a year business. The author questions whether or not students and parents are getting fair value for the tremendous amounts of money being paid in tuition and fees.

Professorial staff get paid far more than people in other professions like accounting or engineering. In addition, Hacker points to a growing number of top heavy administrative jobs like Coordinator of Learning Immersion and Senior Specialist for Assessment. These types of positions combined with high administrative salaries add significantly to the overall cost according to Hacker. For every $1000 spent on college tuition in 1982,  $2540.00 has to be spent today to cover the same things $1000 purchased in ’82.

Hacker decries teaching methodologies, indicating that power point presentations take students away from learning. The author points to individual institutions of higher learning that provide a top quality education either free or at a low cost. Examples are Berea College, Raritan Valley Community College, Cooper Union, Arizona State University, Evergreen State College and Western Oregon University. MIT also gets an honorable mention.

The top college majors have changed to business, social sciences, humanities, education, health, psychology, fine arts and engineering in that order. Hacker believes that colleges need to educate in the basics. He favors a free or significantly reduced cost for education by pointing to workable models like Berea College and others. Hacker calls for reducing tenure and having far fewer paid sabbaticals. In addition, he calls for a fairer spread of donations to other more needy college institutions.

Higher Education  is an important book which parents and students should read. College administrators need to be cognizant of the contents of this work or risk becoming irrelevant. The authors point out many areas where costs could be contained so that tuition would be more affordable to both parents and students alike. In addition, Hacker calls for more emphasis on the professions as opposed to purely academic or theoretical coursework.

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.
  • joey bernal

    many colleges and universities in the Philippines are as guilty as their counterparts in the u.s. the cost of education here has gone up but the quality of teaching has gone down. there is a proliferation in the system of adjunct teachers whose qualifications and teaching skills are sub-par. some school administrations have hemorrhaged to alarming levels. many administrators of diploma mills do not even have decent communication skills and right professional breeding.