Shadow Scholar by Dave Tomar (3 out of 5)

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This is a book I would normally have passed onto the likes of Litchford. However, since he has vanished from Planet Earth, I will have to throw it in a hold pile somewhere for when he does next surface. It’s definitely a book full of information. More importantly, it’s full of staggering statistics and facts that most universities (esp. Rutgers, where our author went to college) would NOT want out there. Namely, students and their parents are being ripped off left and right. However, that’s not where it ends. The author takes it further and gives us some cold, hard facts about student loans, bupkus parking scams to get more money, college courses that suddenly vanish and make the student believe they are NOT graduating and then when legal help is brought in, the story changes (sounds like Moraine Valley), statistics on graduating classes, inflated GPA’s, unemployment rates ,and how most of us have degrees that will never get them a job in their chosen vocation (or even a job near that degree). It’s a sobering book, but Dave Tomar manages to save it with his sarcastic humor.

Tomar is not wrong on many of his counts; I’ve read articles for years that show the education story doesn’t have the happy ending(s) that are promised to us, yet that money is expected to be paid back, and as soon as possible, despite the current economy, unemployment rate, rising cost of living, and minimum wage raises being fought on every level in many states. It’s a suck, suck situation, and there is no end in sight. Tomar finds that getting through college blows on many levels in his own experience (that’s quite a story), and he ends up living a not glamorous life after he graduates. He works full time in a bottling factory, and part time he ends up working for a company that loans out the services of writers to write papers for college students. Very quickly, he finds that while it’s a help to supplement his pathetic full time job wage, it’s also a pain in the ass. Still, Tomar’s sense of humor is there throughout. The stories of the people he writes the papers for, as well as the oddity of choices for papers that  he writes, keep this book funny all the way to the end.

The book works on multiple levels. I would say it is a suitable match and reminded me a lot of Fast Food Nation and Nickel and Dimed, meaning there is a sense of sobering humanity there but also some humor, and the cold hard facts are presented as thus. No shiny, sugarcoating this story. I know many of my friends who have been out of school for years, and are still paying down those student loans. Others have majors and double degrees, but work in a completely unrelated vocation, due to the changing times and the potholed economic road we are all on. The book may lose you in parts, if you’re not good at digesting a lot of numbers, or if reading those numbers takes away from the story itself, but you’d be a fool not to read it all the way through despite that. Eye opening, funny, and although ethical questions may arise from his writing papers for students to help them get through college, but really, how is it any different than what the colleges and financial institutions are lying to these students and their parents in regards to their unrealistic expectations upon graduation? You may not care for the truth, and it really hurts, but sometimes, that’s the best sort of book to read. I really did enjoy this, as gritty as it was in parts. I applaud Dave Tomar for telling it like it is.

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~ by generationgbooks on February 13, 2014.

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