What, Me Study? The Five-Year Party

What, Me Study? The Five-Year Party (2010)

By Craig Brandon

In the Wall Street Journal, Bookshelf review by Melanie Kirkpatrick, August 08, 2010, Melanie reviews the book What, Me Study? The Five-Year Party. By Craig Brandon. Thank you Craig for writing this book! Thank you Melanie for great review.

Without a question of a doubt, obtaining any type of degree program at a community college, or an undergraduate university in the U.S., could be considered a ‘party’. It is very true in the early years, going away to college and leaving home for the first time was a social experience and was part of the learning process and rites of passage in obtaining your degree. Unfortunately as the book review goes on to discuss, parties, socialization are the focus with learning being the least of the priorities. Kirkpatrick says, “The book’s title refers to the fact that only 30% of students enrolled in liberal arts colleges graduate in four years. Roughly 60% take at least six years to get their degrees. That may be fine with many schools, whose administrators see dollar signs in those extra semesters…. Mr. Brandon focuses his attention on the 10% of America’s liberal art colleges as he categorizes as the party schools yet he applies many of his criticism more widely even to the nation’s top tier universities (p1).”

The review provided by Ms. Kirkpatrick goes on to say that “the chief villains are a new breed of college administrators, who Mr. Brandon says have more in common with Gordon gecko than Aristotle. No one who has been following the deterioration of higher education in recent years will be surprised by the portrait of campus life in the five-year party (p1).”

What I find most sad about this commentary is the dummying down of America! We cannot compete in the world’s workforce when our skill sets are not equal to or greater than other countries worldwide. We have a huge talent and skill gap in the multi-generations in the workplace. There are five generations in the workplace today; all generations have some skill gap that needs to be addressed.

When a young person leaves high school (provided they graduated, or got a GED) and were able to go on to a community college and graduated their educational needs truly didn’t stop. Some of those people proceeded to update their skills and continued to get into an undergraduate degree. What these people do not need is a curriculum that does not set a high standard of learning and performance. When a student goes to a technical school, or a community school, or an undergraduate school there needs to be a level of curriculum that makes people think. Grade inflation is a serious problem, it allows people to pass through classes obtain grades and do shoddy work in the name of receiving a certificate or a degree program.

What then happens, these people go out to the work force, and they do not have the skills for the jobs they are applying for because they truly were not taught how to learn or have any context for critical thinking skills. Training has now been shifted to business, and business now picks up the torch for having to train these people coming into the workplace and retraining people to update their skills so that they can stay employed. Businesses pick up this additional responsibility so that those businesses can operate and compete in the business environment today.

This book should be a wake-up call, not only to parents paying for education that their kids aren’t getting, yes and it should be a wake-up call to the universities and higher education institutes that are cranking out the curriculums that are responsible for dummying down America!

In a book by John Hope Bryant entitled, “Love Leadership” (2009) he talks about making” Smart Sexy” again! What are we waiting for?

Before forking over money for these continual education programs, I would suggest having your children pay for their own education. Then they truly would earn their degree! When something is freely given, sometimes there is a perception it holds little value. There is value in learning and having a quality education. When students can see what they are not learning and what is being provided is preventing them to improve their skills and ability to be successful in life and in a possible career, then they would be the first ones screaming in the provost office demanding better curriculums. Grade inflation needs to go! It is not helping our students; it is a hand-out, not a hand-up and is teaching poor lessons to the way the world works. It is enabling the gap to grow between the have and have-nots to become wider and wider.

Brandon, C. (2010). What, me study? The five-year party. Dallas, TX: Ben Bella Books, Inc.

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About Linda Savanauskas

An accomplished talent management professional with experience in curriculum design, development of learning strategies, and professional skills development training programs for the workplace. Collaboration in training programs includes small and medium size businesses (SMB) to larger organizations from Raleigh to Charlotte, North Carolina. Virtual instructor led training can be offered to any location.