Dr. Jerry Israel Offers Advice to College-bound Students in New Book
By Christine Marson
In his most recent book, The 75 Biggest Myths about College Admissions, Dr. Jerry Israel, former University of Indianapolis president, examines the most common myths about the college application and admission process and reveals truths behind them. With acute experience from the world of higher education, Israel emphasizes the importance of attending college and what knowledge is necessary for students to make the best college choices.
Early on in the book, you dispel 1) the myth that colleges, not buyers, are in control of the market and 2) the myth that a successful life depends upon college selection as opposed to college graduation. Why is this important for students and higher education institutions to hear?
Israel: It’s important for students to hear because if they realize it’s a buyer’s market rather than a seller’s market, it puts students in control and takes victimization out of the process. With this knowledge, students are able to make informed decisions and ask relevant questions without worrying that they might make a fatal mistake and be disqualified. Knowledge of these myths prevents them from feeling fearful and scared and allows students to shop.
In regard to higher education, my bias is that higher education institutions serve the industry, but we don’t treat the consumer very well. If we, as higher education institutions, recognize that we need students, we ought to act like they are of value.
Realities shared in your book often illustrate information that institutions of higher learning might not want shared. How will your book influence them?
Israel: I worried a bit about this. My position is that we have a great story to tell but we’ve been, for whatever reason, reluctant to tell it. I wrote the book as an insider’s view of what goes on. Why not pull back the curtain and be transparent and share? Knowledge is power, so institutions of higher learning may not want to give away these trade secrets. I hope the response would be, “Why not tell our story?” I hope that from reading this book they would figure out that students’ success is a win-win situation for colleges and students.
For the average high school student, this book could be viewed as a “how to” guide on outsmarting the college admissions process. Is this your intent?
Israel: Sure. “Outsmarting” might not be the first word I’d choose, though. I’d say this is a way to make the potential student informed and able to make good decisions.
How does the Early College network fit into the college admissions landscape as described in your book?
Israel: That’s an interesting pushback. I think the Early College network is great. Anything that allows a student to progress through the system in a creative and innovative way, especially in this economy, is a great thing. Even though we impose standardized learning on students and the assumption is that everyone learns at the same rate, it’s not one size fits all. Some students are auditory learners, and some are acute learners. And some learn faster than others depending upon the subject matter. One would think that the bigger the buffet, in terms of learning opportunities, the better. Students need to make wise decisions to achieve their goals in a cost-effective manner. I support options for students. We have a variety of learning solutions now, for example in class and online. Students ought to be able to pick and choose from that to meet their needs. It all starts with the bias of the student as the customer. One question that never gets asked by teachers to students is, “What do you want to know?” I think we’re in the midst of quite a revolution which is something, of course, that higher education will oppose because change is difficult. We need to focus on the student-centric not teacher-centric model.
Why should a high school student, a high school administrator, and a higher education partner read this book?
Israel: It could make me rich! (jokingly) Seriously, though, I think a high school student should read this because this book is written to that market. High school counselors could benefit from it because it will leave them better informed and better able to advise. I hope higher education individuals read this and adjust their systems to better serve the student. After reading the book, I hope higher education asks, “Are we sending clear and consistent messages to prospective students?” I hope they understand the book as a way to look at their processes and ask, “Are we doing this for ourselves or for the students?” Colleges should address students’ needs.
Do you plan to write a follow-up book?
Israel: Probably. We’re in conversations about that right now. I’ve been talking to my editor about it, but with the economy upside-down, publishers are very scared about whether people will buy books. Our thinking at the moment is headed toward a book that will help a student make smart financial decisions in regard to education while making the most of opportunities while in school.
Published: October 2008