College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students

What is the value of a college degree?

The four-year college experience is as American as apple pie. So is the belief that education offers a ticket to a better life. But with student-loan debt surpassing the $1 trillion mark and unemployment on the rise, people are beginning to question that value. Is a college diploma still worth pursuing at any price?

In College (Un)bound, Jeffrey J. Selingo, editor at large for The Chronicle for Higher Education, argues that America’s higher education system is broken. The great credential race has turned universities into big business and fostered an environment where middle tier colleges can command elite university-level tuition while concealing staggeringly low graduation rates and churning out students with few hard skills into the job market.

Selingo not only turns a critical eye to the current state of affairs in higher education, but he also predicts how technology will transform it for the better. Free massive online open courses (MOOCs) and hybrid classes, adaptive learning software, and the unbundling of traditional degree credits will increase access to high quality education regardless of budget or location and tailor lesson plans to individual needs. One thing is certain—the Class of 2020 will have a radically different college experience than their parents.

Incisive, urgent, and controversial, College (Un)bound is a must-read for prospective students, parents, and anyone concerned with the future of American higher education.

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By Roxanne (Norcross, GA) · ★★★☆☆ · June 19, 2013
For someone who follows the Chronicle of Higher Ed or popular coverage of higher ed in general, there is not much new or surprising here. But Selingo personalizes and contextualizes the facts and figures being thrown at us in the media with his own reporting of anecdotal realities for students, p... ...more
By Kressel (Monsey, NY) · ★★★★☆ · June 16, 2014
As I’ve said in other reviews, any book about college is bound to stir up my emotions. This one showed over and over again how the majority of college students choose the wrong fit for themselves, end up failing out or drifting through majors, and never reach their full earning potential once the... ...more
By Eustacia (Fukuoka, 00, Japan) · ★★★★☆ · May 24, 2013
I'm not sure that I should be reading this book, seeing as I'm trying to adapt to university and need encouragement not a questioning of whether I should even be here, but I read it. And I can sum up the book by quoting the author (this quote comes towards the end of the book):

"I believe addition... ...more
By Amanda (Greensboro, NC) · ★★★☆☆ · May 27, 2013
As a higher education professional I was intrigued by the subject matter. The author provided rational and thoughtful perspectives that will be helpful for any emerging adult - except that he gives an incomplete picture. While deriding "student services" he fails to acknowledge the reality of the... ...more
By Bob (The United States) · ★★★★☆ · March 04, 2015
What will be the return on a $50, $100, $200,000 investment in an undergraduate college degree? That is the question parents and students are increasingly facing. Is this worth taking on student loan debt that could exceed $100,000? And how does one evaluate the education on offer beyond the attr... ...more
By William (Falmouth, ME) · ★★★★☆ · June 11, 2014
A place to begin with "College Unbound" is to remember that it is journalism, not scholarship. And it is more of a catalog of problems and possible improvements than a well-reasoned exploration of why change will definitely work. Yes, much -- very much -- is wrong, but I was not convinced by the... ...more
By Marks54 (Wilmette, IL) · ★★★☆☆ · June 14, 2013
This is a short but well done summary of some of the major problems facing higher education written by a staffer on the Chronicle of Higher Education. Selingo does a good job on the shift to consumerist education pursuing credentials - and the related issues of stagnant achievement and poor gradu... ...more
By David (Washington, DC) · ★★★☆☆ · November 13, 2013
good description of some of the major recent changes in higher ed, as well as the economic/behavioral factors motivating them. If you work at a college or follow higher ed closely in the news (yes and yes for me), most of this will not be new, but for any reader it's a thoughtful overview.

student... ...more
By TeacherMrLoria (Washington, DC) · ★★★★☆ · May 25, 2014
College Unbound

I can’t believe I’ve been in education, both as a participant and as an educator, and I hadn’t read this book until now. What we mean by college needs to be understood, from multiple angles. The only reason this book gets 4 stars out of 5 is because Jeff, when’s our follow up chat... ...more
By Ivan (Mexico) · ★★★★★ · May 16, 2014
Es un libro muy necesario para todos aquellos profesores y académicos que están de alguna manera relacionados con los programas y los currícula de las universidades. Si bien parte del libro trata de situaciones ajenas a la realidad universitaria de México (cuestiones de préstamos universitarios,... ...more