College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be, by Andrew Delbanco

A review written for Light and Truth, the magazine of Yale’s Conservative Party. It appeared on campus, but only on paper.

My heart goes out to Andrew Delbanco.

In the course of writing College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be, he encountered the same paradox I will if I try to apply my time at Yale to any debate on the state of higher education.

Along with my friends at Columbia, Middlebury, and the University of Chicago, I enjoy the public ideal of “college life”: Frisbees, ping-pong and five-person seminars.

Statistically, though, my friends and I are very unusual. Private, four-year colleges (most of which you’ve never heard of) enroll about 20% of America’s post-secondary students. Two hundred and fifty thousand people take classes at the University of Phoenix—more than twice the undergrad population of the Ivy League and U.S. News’ top 20 liberal arts colleges combined.

But this book wasn’t written by Mark DeFusco, former director of the University of Phoenix. In fact, he is  quoted only once, asserting that most students attend college mostly for financial reasons. Delbanco, a Harvard graduate and 27-year veteran professor at Columbia, calls Defusco’s (probably true) statement “a surrender of America’s democratic promise.”

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