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by April Norhanian

Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4401-1920-0

A punchy manifesto on the evils of higher education by former college recruiter Norhanian.

Norhanian writes, “Unfortunately, what many graduates gain from a four-year degree is: a cap, a polyester gown, maybe a hangover, and about $25,000 of student loan debt.” Her reasoning is based on her experience as a student–she has a B.A. and an M.A.–and time as recruiter for a college in Florida. Norhanian is jaded for good reason: Many students sign up for college without considering alternatives like a trade school or apprenticeship. They party their way through an expensive education and upon graduation find that employers aren’t exactly lining up at their doors. Meanwhile, debt hangs overhead, not to mention the worrisome poundage gained from a steady diet of pizza and cheap beer. Suckers generates laughs when describing the pampered lifestyle at many campuses–the fancy food, the eccentric collection of “useless” courses and the luxurious suites. While some students do choose schools based on the party vibe, Norhanian is not generous to the millions who pursue higher education as a means to itself. In the author’s mind, all prospective students are in search of a high-paying job. She fails to account for the sizeable swath of folks who are content to use those four years to better themselves. Furthermore, in her eagerness to denounce the college lifestyle, Norhanian often gets sloppy with facts. At one point, referring to the expenses incurred by “going Greek,” Norhanian writes, “A typical pledge for the semester is around $2,500.” The figure she cites is more likely related to the room-and-board expenses incurred by students who choose to live in a fraternity or sorority house. Still, the author has a sharp wit, and even those who loved college will find themselves occasionally laughing along.

For high school students or parents dubious about the merits of higher education.