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The Conversation: Is College a Five Year Party?

Author Craig Brandon says colleges have given up educating students.

ByABC News
August 11, 2010, 9:40 AM

Aug. 11, 2010— -- Across the country, students will soon head back to college campuses to begin the fall semester. But all the books and laptops hide a sad fact, says author and former professor Craig Brandon: that college today is a non-stop party that fails to educate most American students.

In his new book, "The Five Year Party," Brandon presents the shocking statistic that roughly 60 percent of college students require at least six years to graduate with that traditional four-year bachelor's degree.

"That means you're in college a lot longer, but it also means the colleges are making a lot more money," said Brandon.

Bucolic college campuses have turned into expensive resorts for young adults, Brandon says, with everything from hot tubs to water parks to luxury dorms. While colleges have added all these amenties, he says, they've lost site of the end goal -- learning. While tuition has been raised to pay for administrative costs and campus life features, little has been spent in decades on improving the quality fo the classroom.

"I think we're really short-changing our students today by letting them just have a good time in college and coming out with a diploma without really learning anything," says Brandon.

Today, Brandon spoke with ABC's Linsey Davis for an interesting Conversation on the state of American higher education and what colleges, parents and students can do to improve it.

He advocates building new, "no-frills" colleges with a focus on the classroom, but he cautions that it's not just the fault of college administrators.

"The problem really goes back to high schools, which are graduating students who are not really college material. So they come into college unprepared, and they never really catch up."

We hope you'll watch today's Conversation.

Click here to watch more from the Conversation series.

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