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Short Synopsis
Drawing on more than one hundred interviews with students, employees, executives, and activists, Lower Ed tells the story of the benefits, pitfalls, and real costs of a for-profit education. It is a story about broken social contracts; about education transforming from a public interest to a private gain; and about all Americans and the challenges we face in our divided, unequal society.

Full Synopsis
More than two million students are enrolled in for-profit colleges, from the small family-run operations to the behemoths brandished on billboards, subway ads, and late-night commercials. These schools have been around just as long as their bucolic not-for-profit counterparts, yet shockingly little is known about why they have expanded so rapidly in recent years—during the so-called Wall Street era of for-profit colleges.

In Lower Ed Tressie McMillan Cottom—a bold and rising public scholar, herself once a recruiter at two for-profit colleges—expertly parses the fraught dynamics of this big-money industry to show precisely how it is part and parcel of the growing inequality plaguing the country today. McMillan Cottom discloses the shrewd recruitment and marketing strategies that these schools deploy and explains how, despite the well-documented predatory practices of some and the campus closings of others, ending for-profit colleges won't end the vulnerabilities that made them the fastest growing sector of higher education at the turn of the twenty-first century. And she doesn’t stop there.

"With great compassion and analytical rigor, Cottom questions the fundamental narrative of American education policy, that a postsecondary degree always guarantees a better life." ---New York Times Book Review

"Cottom does a good job of making the name Lower Ed stick, and she makes a solid case for reviewing the entire system of higher education for openness of opportunity.” ---Kirkus

"In Lower Ed McMillan Cottom is at her very best—rigorous, incisive, empathetic, and witty. . . . Her sharp intelligence, throughout, makes this book compelling, unforgettable, and deeply necessary." ---Roxane Gay, author of Difficult Women and Bad Feminist

"Lower Ed is brilliant. It is nuanced, carefully argued, and engagingly written. It is a powerful, chilling tale of what happens when profit-driven privatization of a public good latches on to systemic inequality and individual aspirations." ---Carol Anderson, author of White Rage

"Pitts captures Cottom's prose style perfectly, shifting between a critical voice while exploring the research on higher education, inequality, and access and a personal tone while expressing Cottom's frustration with her own part in the highly questionable system." ---AudioFile

Lower Ed

The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy

Author Tressie McMillan Cottom

Narrated by Lisa Reneé Pitts

Publication date Oct 31, 2017

Running time 9 hrs

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