American education, claim the authors of this uneven collection of essays, is rapidly approaching the manic Japanese...


HURDLES: The Admissions Dilemma in American Education

American education, claim the authors of this uneven collection of essays, is rapidly approaching the manic Japanese situation in which students leap out of windows on receipt of university rejection slips. While American schools become sacrosanct credentialing institutions, and admissions officers kowtow to the almighty SAT-LSAT-MCAT-and-GPA, and students contract Ivy League fever, basic questions about the purposes of higher education go unanswered. Many hands are wringing over this mania and, unfortunately for the usefulness of this volume, its authors have nothing new to add; chiefly, they supply more tragicomic anecdotes about the crazy things people do to get into Yale Law School and some comfortably general suggestions that the mania cease (e.g., ""It is time to engage in a debate about the objectives of higher education"" and ""Considerably greater effort is needed to replace our current tests with more complete indices of talent and ability""). Besides this main issue, other topics given spot attention include: the financial squeeze of rising tuition and shrinking government aid; the submergence of the liberal arts under the current wave of pre-professional enthusiasm; and the need to restructure curricula to accommodate affirmative action and open admissions programs. But here, too, there is no noticeable advance to the public discussion. The three personal essays are by far the most arresting. Henry-Louis Gates, Jr., vividly recounts his groping for self-definition as a black Yale student fresh from the hills of West Virginia. Angela S. Moger and Etta S. Onat contribute a fine essay on the interplay of subtle academic sexism with inner doubts which traps women graduate students. And Eric K. Goodman describes the wrenching process of career choice. But the remaining essays, addressing broader educational issues and comprising two-thirds of the book, sound a clarion call for reform which has been raised many times before.

Pub Date: April 19, 1978


Page Count: -

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1978