U is one long rant with some humor and a few bits of history thrown in.
This book was written by Andrew
Ferguson. It was published by Simon
& Schuster in 2010. It chronicles
one harried father’s struggle to navigate the murky and ridiculously complex
waters of higher learning. Ferguson is
the father, and his struggle revolves around getting his teenage son into
If you’re looking for a how-to book
or a book with any practical information on college…Crazy U is not for you.
Ferguson’s book reads like a journalistic exposé. It sheds light on our society’s obsession
with college and how these institutions of higher learning take advantage of
that obsession. Brief history lessons of
college-associated rituals (such as the SAT and the admissions essay) reveal
how they got started and how they, in Ferguson’s opinion, devolved into
meaningless rites of passage.
But the things that make up the
majority of Crazy U are
complaints. Ferguson gripes about the
bias in the admissions process. He
gripes about the difficulty of receiving financial aid. He gripes about the unreasonably high (and
continually rising) cost of college. He
gripes about the stupidity of college courses.
He gripes, most of all, about the overarching absurdity of admissions. And it goes on…and on…and on…
I think that is what most annoyed me
about this book: it is consumed by an all-pervading sense of cynicism. “America’s system of higher learning is
rotten to the core. But there is nothing
we can do about it except go with flow and hope that, somehow, our kids turn
out ok.” seems to be the only message here.
Ferguson offers no solutions or answers to the problems and questions he
brings to light.
I would go so far as to say that a
parent who dives into this book unaware runs the risk of, upon completion,
despairing of there being any practical use for institutions of higher learning
A few minor issues I should mention
are Ferguson’s occasional salty language, and a cavalier attitude toward
college alcohol abuse and promiscuity.
If you don’t take what he’s saying
too seriously, the humor and biting wit of Crazy
U make it a fun and easy read. I
would recommend it to parents (fathers especially) looking for a laugh and a
source of commiseration. Because that is
the most anyone can be expected to get out of Crazy U.
and a muttered, “What is this country coming to…”
By Beck Farb, Taylor University
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