The Years That Matter Most


By Paul Tough

cover image of The Years That Matter Most

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What has gone wrong in our universities? And how do we make it right?
When Amy applied to university, she thought she'd be judged purely on her merits. But she never thought that her family background would have as much impact on her future as her grades.
When KiKi arrived at university, she knew she could be the only black woman in her class. But she didn't know how out of place she would feel, nor how unwelcoming her peers would be.
When Orry graduated from university, he was told he'd probably land a six-figure salary. But he wasn't told he'd end up barely scraping a living wage, struggling to feed his children.
Drawing on the stories of hundreds of American students, The Years That Matters Most is a revelatory account of a university system in crisis.

Paul Tough, bestselling author of How Children Succeed, exposes a world where small-town colleges go bust, while the most prestigious raise billions every year; where overstretched admissions officers are forced to pick rich candidates over smart ones; where black and working-class students are left to sink or swim on uncaring campuses. Along the way, he uncovers cutting-edge research from the academics leading the way to a new kind of university – one where students succeed not because of their background, but because of the quality of their minds.
The result is a call-to-arms for universities that work for everyone, and a manual for how we can make it happen.

The Years That Matter Most