College is a much more ambiguous term than people realize. It can mean different things for different people at different times and places. But the one thing we all seem to agree on, at least partially, is that college adds some benefit to one’s life should they decide to go to one. What benefits you ask? Well, that depends. They’ve certainly changed since the first universities and colleges came into existence, and they’re certain to be different a hundred years from now.

Andrew Delbanco describes in his new book College: What it Was, Is and Should Be that college should be a tool to help students “develop certain qualities of the mind and heart requisite for reflective citizenship.” In short, they should help us become better people, but in his opinion, we’re going about it all wrong.

The current system treats students as consumers, according to Delbanco. Colleges measure our level of education by grades and points, but the true measure of education is the way it leads us to live our lives.

Delbanco lays out a host of reasons colleges need to rethink the way they educate students, especially in a transitional time for the world where the way we live and work, two things colleges directly affect, are rapidly changing. Delbanco, a professor himself, provides a thoughtful and insightful look at American college’s exceptionalism and pitfalls.

College will be released on Tuesday, March 20 and whether you’re in college, thinking about college or just paying for it, it’s a good read to help better understand one of America’s oldest and finest institutions. And if we want it to stay that way, we all better get schooled about it.


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