Sometimes it seems that while everyone talks about college, no one really knows how it works. Certainly not parents, or professors; not administrators and not undergraduates. In fact, one would not be wrong if they thought that most of the “things we actually know about college” are things that we’ve been told, but haven’t really found out; things we assume to be the case, but have never actually questioned. Much of what we believe about college turns out to be a collection of (to use a term popular here at Historically Thinking) engravings– things that we believe to be true, but just aren’t so.
In their book How College Works, Daniel F. Chambliss and Christopher Takacs subject their own school—Hamilton College in upstate New York—to a thorough sociological evaluation to find out what is actually so. What they found sometimes confirms prejudice and yet baffles it; approves of common sense observations but also undermines them. All in all, How College Works is a fascinating read for anyone who works at a college, wants to go to college, or wants their child to go to college. Daniel F. Chambliss is the Eugene M. Tobin Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, and he’s my guest today on Historically Thinking.