The best-selling author of How Children Succeed returns with a devastatingly powerful, mind-changing inquiry into higher education in the United States
Does college work? Does it provide real opportunity for young people who want to improve themselves and their prospects? Or is it simply a rigged game designed to protect the elites who have power and exclude everyone else? For many of us, our doubts and resentments about higher education live side by side with an appreciation, even a yearning, for the life-changing personal transformation that a college education can provide.
In these pages, you will meet young people making their way through this system, with joy and frustration and sorrow: deciding how and where to apply, cramming for the SAT, braving a strange new campus, negotiating changing family relationships, and trying to find the resilience to recover from setbacks and downturns.
You’ll encounter the individuals who, behind the scenes, make higher education go: an SAT tutor hacking the test and his students’ stressed-out brains; College Board officials bending the facts to protect the brand; a calculus professor turning potential drop-outs into math majors. And you’ll see the many shapes that college in America takes today, from Ivy League seminar rooms to community college welding shops; from giant public flagships to tiny, innovative experiments in urban storefronts.
The Years That Matter Most will shake you up, it will inspire and enrage you, and it will make you think differently about who we are as a country – and whether the American dream of opportunity and mobility is still worthy of our faith.