The best-selling author of How Children Succeed returns with a powerful, mind-changing inquiry into higher education in the United States.
Does college still work? Is the system designed just to protect the privileged and leave everyone else behind? Or can a college education today provide real opportunity to young Americans seeking to improve their station in life? The Years That Matter Most tells the stories of students trying to find their way, with hope, joy, and frustration, through the application process and into college. Drawing on new research, the book reveals how the landscape of higher education has shifted in recent decades and exposes the hidden truths of how the system works and whom it works for. And it introduces us to the people who really make higher education go: admissions directors trying to balance the class and balance the budget, College Board officials scrambling to defend the SAT in the face of mounting evidence that it favors the wealthy, researchers working to unlock the mysteries of the college-student brain, and educators trying to transform potential dropouts into successful graduates.
With insight, humor, and passion, Paul Tough takes readers on a journey from Ivy League seminar rooms to community college welding shops, from giant public flagship universities to tiny experimental storefront colleges. Whether you are facing your own decision about college or simply care about the American promise of social mobility, The Years That Matter Most will change the way you think—not just about higher education, but about the nation itself.
Paul Tough is the author, most recently, of The Inequality Machine. His three previous books include How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, which was translated into 27 languages and spent more than a year on the New York Times hardcover and paperback best-seller lists. Paul is a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine; his writing has also appeared in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and GQ, and on the op-ed page of the New York Times. He is a speaker on topics including education, parenting, equity, and student success. He has worked as an editor at the New York Times Magazine and Harper’s Magazine and as a reporter and producer for This American Life. He was the founding editor of Open Letters, an online magazine. He lives with his wife and two sons in Austin, Texas, and Montauk, New York. For more information, please visit his web site or follow him on Twitter.