Jeffrey Selingo

Jeffrey Selingo, Special Advisor to the President at ASU

Jeffrey Selingo, Special Advisor to the President of Arizona State University and founding director of the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership, is an author of three books that exhibit the future of higher education. Including his three books, Selingo has written dozens of articles for The Washington Post and The Atlantic and was the former editor for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Throughout his books, articles and media appearances, Selingo adds to the issue of the climbing debt that crushes the students of the current generation. Selingo attempts to tell his audience that colleges and universities are succumbing on becoming a monopoly instead of an educational institution. 

Written in 2013, Jeffrey Selingo’s  first book, College (Un)bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students, has helped best shape the argument for what the future entails for higher education. As his other books tell the readers about alternatives and tips, this book goes in-depth about the issue of how college has significantly changed into the corporate business it is today. Since the beginning of the book, Jeffrey Selingo details the situation with blunt statements on how college isn’t exactly helping the student anymore but helping them dive into debt. “Colleges now view students as customers and market their degrees as products.” (Selingo 5 College (Un)bound) Selingo directly implicates that the student is influenced to go to school to polish their resume with the highest credentials, so they can compete in the competitive job market. Selingo states this as he talks about the inflated credentials that colleges showcase. The students he targets in this quote and throughout the book, are mainly students who go to college to receive a job. He stresses the issue of the uncertain future that will affect the current generation. Chapter three, titled “The Trillion Dollar Problem” helped execute Selingo’s argument on how the appeal of schools ends with the student having soul-crushing debt problems. “…about the price they’ll actually pay and the amount of financial aid they’ll really get.” (Selingo 37 College (Un)bound) Selingo sees that colleges tend to try to hide tuition fees and financial aid costs to con students into paying a huge amount of money.

Later that year in May, Selingo joins the Morning News Edition on NPR radio station for an exclusive interview about Selingo’s first book. In this interview, Mr. Selingo explains that American colleges have “lost their way” in educating their students enough to compete in the job market. Selingo goes on to say that college campuses are more concerned about their expensive dorms and attracting certain students instead of the quality education they should be providing (Selingo). As the federal government continues to cut the funding for colleges and universities, the cost of tuition gets higher and more students are blindsided by the debt. Selingo points this out with the trend of population growth.  “…students have to fly halfway across the country to pay $50,000 for a degree that they’re not quite sure what they’re going to do with.” (Selingo) As the population of 18 year old high school graduates continue to populate in the southern part of the United States, Northern state colleges must advertise strictly to attract them to attend their colleges.

College (Un)bound has received many reviews saying that this book can help students see the bigger picture of higher education. A book review by Andrew Gillen proposes that Selingo advocates for a technology based change in higher education. He implies that the class of 2020 will be seeing radical changes of technology in their courses. Also Gillen points out “…the fundamental problem is that universities must strive to be more prestigious, because that’s the only arena for competition.” (Gillen 503)  Status in higher education is crucial to many colleges standings in the nation. Prestige dominates quality education when most students apply to college. Gillen sees that Selingo is understanding the present situation and tries to put the pieces together for the future of the current generation.

In 2014, Selingo adds a new factor to his argument; MOOCs. MOOCs are massive open online courses for people that live in remote areas use to receive a college education. This was regarded as the “higher education savoir” when it first started in 2011. In September of 2014, Selingo wrote an article about the revolution of MOOCs and how it has impacted thousands of students across the world. These courses are a cheap alternative than going to a regular college or university. But MOOCs weren’t as sustainable as many people thought. It proved to be a huge setback in little over a year of its existence. Selingo believes that MOOCs are not a complete failure yet. The way they can be implemented in traditional colleges and universities proves that these online courses have hope. While this may not happen in the next five or ten years, Selingo continues to advocate for them and he believes that higher education will soon benefit from MOOCs.

As we fast forward a couple of years, in 2015, an article referencing Selingo’s book, College (Un)bound, explains why colleges are not “…navigating the current economic climate particularly well due to habits established long before the economic collapse.” (Jabbaar-Gyambrah and Vaught 2015) Since the recession, colleges and universities have blamed the economic collapse of 2008 on decreased budgeting. America has since recovered from the dreadful recession and have moved on to preventing it. The co-authors Vaught and Jabbaar-Gyambrah claim that Selingo is right in this case because higher education is being influenced by the wrong factors in rising tuition costs. With this valid argument comes more unsolved questions about the supposed “investment” students make in college.

Jeffrey Selingo also wrote another book revealing tips and advice to students and professors. There Is Life After College is the most recent book Selingo has written and has captured interest from other higher ed scholars and college students. This New York best-seller does have essential tips for this current generation when they enter the job market. Most college graduates are clueless on finding and recieving a job. As a response, Selingo helps students find employment that will satisfy the parents. While this book does not explain in-depth about the current situation of college, Selingo provides his readers a blueprint on how to successfully find and maintain a job in the current job market.

Jeffrey J. Selingo has helped students, professors, and parents fully understand that the institution of college is broken. He has reached millions of people in America with his books, articles and countless media appearances with this idea. The recurring theme in Selingo’s publications state that there must be certain measure taken to help the students in America successfully receive a college degree in any major without the various costs that come with it. Selingo proposes technology based courses to reduce the everlasting cost of college, but this could take a long time. Without change to the higher education system, Selingo claims that  future generations will be drastically affected and the future of college is questionable.




College, Lafayette. “Lafayette College – Inauguration of 17th President Alison Byerly.” Flickr. Yahoo!, 05 Oct. 2013. Web. 04 Dec. 2018.

Gillen, Andrew. “Change Is Coming: College (Un)Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students, by Jeffrey J. Selingo. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013, 256 Pp., $26.00 Hardbound.” Academic Questions, vol. 26, no. 4, Dec. 2013, pp. 500–504. 

Selingo, Jeffrey J. College (un)bound : The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students. 2013. Print.

Selingo, Jeffrey. With Gorgeous Dorms But Little Cash, Colleges Must Adapt., 13 May, 2013

Selingo, Jeffrey. “MOOC U: The Revolution Isn’t Over.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 29 Sept. 2014. Web. 04 Dec. 2018.

“There Is Life After College – Jeff Selingo.” Jeff Selingo. Jeff Selingo, n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2018.

Thornton, John F. “College (Un)Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students.” Publishers Weekly, vol. 260, no. 12, Mar. 2013, p. 60.

Vaught, Seneca, and Tara Jabbaar-Gyambrah. “Why College as an Investment Is a Lousy Analogy.” Journal of College Admission, no. 226, Winter 2015, pp. 24–29


Important Links

Jeffrey Selingo Photo

Twitter Page

Keynote Speaking/Upcoming appearances

Does college fail grads in the workplace?

ASU/Georgetown Higher Ed Partnership

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