These days, reading good books about how you can get the education you want is like seeing the revival of a good musical: the plot and score are the same, but the costumes are new and the faces are fresh. You can find the following books (both old and new titles) in almost any bookstore and probably in your library reference section. They ought to be part of the beginning and middle of your educational reading list. There really should be no end. There is something refreshing about anything that calls itself "undergrouund." That applies to The Underground Guide to the College of Your Choiceby Susan Berman (Signet, $1.95).
For high school seniors, it holds the promise of telling "where it's happ'nin' ". For the rest of us, it promises to lighten the shadows of a mysterious other existence -- the college world.
It dismisses one college ("It finally went coed, but it didn't help".) and another ("Politically it's a hotbed of opathy".) But the Guide is balanced enough in its judgments to find one place "composed of thinking liberals" and another that is "calm and sane." Under the heading "Bread," it reports that the costs at one college are so high "It's impossible to scrounge here... Nothing is cheap, even Xerox." At another college, "dates are cheap because guys are in the minoroty and can usually get the chick to go dutch." The mental environment of one college is summed up by the observation that "people read textbooks," presumably for pleasure, while the campus of yet another college is described as "a quad of chipped salmon-colored structures."
Published in 1971, the Guide is well behind the times, but there is still a remarkable measure of truth to its perceptions of a number of colleges. Written against the backdrop of student protest in the 1960's, the book is like an archaeological find chronicling a bygone era. Anyone contemplating going to college in Maryland ought to know about the Maryland 1978-1978 College and Career Directory (College & Career Directory, of Maryland, $4.95).
No ivory-tower index, the book is for high school students heading for college, for vocational training programs, or forimmediate employment. Students entering or transferring from community colleges will find it useful. To a lesser degree, people intending to continue their education will find it helpful. The Directory is chockful of information about everything anyone would want or need to know about choosing a college in Maryland. What's more, it contains definitions of acronyms that will forever become part of your vocabulary -- SAT, AP CLEP, and so on.
No one these days can afford not to read the chapter titled "Financing a College Education." It's also a must to know the wealth of information on where to apply for scholarships from federally funded and private sources. Response-orientated, the Directory contains prepaid postcards so that readers interested in doing so may obtain admissions and financial information from the college profiles section. A combined directory on colleges in the District, Virginia, and West Virginia is due out March 1. Because so many men and women are now returning to college, books like So You Want to Go Back to School by Elinor Lenz and Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz (McGraw-Hill, $4.95) have an almost sacred mission to perform -- consciousness-raising.
The book is an academic Baedeker of high quality that points out the pitfalls and the plains that adults can expect on the raod to getting their degrees.
Lenz and Shaevitz know the psychologicial and economic reasons why people return to college, and what obstacles adult learners face when they return to academe. The author also knows how to overcome these obstacles. Taking the time to do even the three-page "Career Analysis Worksheet" may turn out to be time well spent. IF you have ever given the right answer to the wrong question on an exam or scored less than you might have wanted on a test, you might want to read Fast Wiseness by the American College (McGraw-Hill, $4.95).
Subtitled "Test-Taking Skills for Adults," the book sells itself short: anyone from high school on can benefit from this 75-page self-help program. Test Wiseness isn't going to help people who are out to substitute knowing how to take a test for knowing what you need to know. According to the text, "test wiseness is the ability to utilize relevant clues in the test or test situation to obtain a test score that is consistent with one's level of proficiency."
Unit 1 deals with strategies for multiple choice tests. The second unit provides help for those taking essay tests. You won't come away any smarter after reading this book. But you may be test-wiser. The Weekend Education Source Book by Wilbur Cross (Harper's Magazine Press, $6.95) is about a series of educational "happenings" that, taken togethr, constitute the history "the most exciting short residential programs for adults."
It is the kind of book that further advances the progress of an idea whose time has already come. It certifies the validity and satisfaction of such experiences as educational vacations, "suitcase seminars," and the like.
Professional educators should read the book both for its educational history and for ideas for flexible programs. Potential weekend students should avoid getting bogged down in the first half of the book, though they ought to know how such programs developed and where they seem to be going. Be wary of the nearly 100-page directory of institutions that offer short programs because it may be somewhat out-of-date.
The Weekend Education Source Book is full of reasonable caveats that any wise educational consumer should follow. It is, nonetheless, fascinating to pursue the possibilities suggested by this book.