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  • Mainiac - Excellent study guide for SAT (I like the CD version even better)Kaplan SAT 2011: Strategies, Practice, and Review (SPR)
    subtitle: "Everything you need to score higher"
    $19.99 list

    Kaplan SAT 2011 Premier with CD-ROM (Premier)
    subtitle: "More of what you need to score higher"
    $34.99 list

    As the parent of a HS junior and an Amazon Vine reviewer, I got both of these books because I wondered how they differed and which we would prefer.

    There is all sorts of evidence that SAT scores can be coached, so it is well worth your money and your and your child's time to make some sort of investment in preparing for the test-taking process. Some students will, of course, benefit from more structured classes, but for many of us, buying a book is the right cost-benefit tradeoff.

    I have complete confidence in Kaplan, so from the get-go, I know that one of these two books would be right for our family.

    Quip with the books: The printed tests in the books are not as helpful as they were back in the day because they do not replicate the experience of electronic testing. They will help, of course, with learning how to answer the questions. And there are the online (and on-disk) tests to provide the electronic test-taking practice. But I think Kaplan might get rid of the printed tests and put more online, and make these books about half their size and easier to schlep around.

    QUICK COMPARISON: Having looked at both of these products, I would definitely get the Premier. For about $10 more at today's prices, and $15 more at list prices, the extra disk seems worth it to me. My child will be more engaged with the disk version than anything in the book itself. However, since the online tests are available with both versions, you might find that the SPR version works fine for your family. Also, it appears that the SPR version has word roots and vocabulary sections that are not in the Premier version. Those do seem handy to me. I would get Premier over SPR... but I think both are excellent.

    What's included, Premier:
    757-page book
    CD (Windows & Mac compatible)
    Access to online companion site

    What's included, SPR:
    733-page book
    Access to online companion site

    The Premier book contains a multi-page "quick-start" guide that overviews the whole process for you, and I like that.

    The book:

    The books for the two versions are not identical, but very similar. The major sections in both are:
    7. RESOURCES (SPR version only, word roots and vocabulary word lists)

    I feel like Part 7 must be somewhere in the Premier materials, but can't find it. That section looks very helpful to me.

    There are four practice tests in each book.

    The online companion site:

    (This is the same for the two versions of the book.) This contains an online diagnostic quiz, help with building a study plan, review, and five additional full-length tests. I can't go there right now because I'll let my son do the registering, so this information is from the description inside the book.

    The CD:

    I have a Mac, as does my son. I was disappointed that an installation was required instead of just running off the disk, but it's not all that big a deal. It did totally ignore my specifified installation location, and installed on the desktop, but worse things could happen. Oh geez, and even after you "install" it will work only with the disk in, so it's not clear to me why they made me install anything.

    The CD is full-screen and includes a sound track. I found these both annoying in my little test run, but I realize that it will be very helpful in focusing attention for some learners.

    The CD contains a diagnostic test and five more full-length practice tests, as well as 12 focused practice tests for special skills (e.g., four for critical reading, two for math, two for writing, two for grid-in practice, and two for essays.) Note: I think these are five distinct tests, so that you have a total of 10 electronic tests with this version (5 on disk and 5 online), but it would be hard for me to check that they're distinct.

    I don't like some of the details of how they implemented the CD, but overall, I like the CD. I think for my son, this extra level of engagement is worth the extra money.
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  • E. Whitman - Practical OverviewWhat information does the American public need in order to make choices about the worth of higher education? How might higher education meet the needs of a changing society? Jeffrey Selingo's (2013) "College (Un)bound: The Future of Higher Education and What it Means For Students" attempts to answer such questions and in the process also brings to light questions that those who work on college campuses must ask themselves: Can we fix higher education in America? What would we have to know in order to effect productive and lasting change? Jeffrey Selingo's credential as a current Editor-at-Large with The Chronicle of Higher Education (and his long-term association with that publication) speaks to his total immersion in the many and nuanced conversations around challenges facing American higher education.

    In the past decade a slew of books has been written about higher education reforms. Selingo's book is one of the many grappling with the all-to-apparent decline of our American university system including Arum and Roksa's (2011) "Academically Adrift," Louis Menand's (2010) "The Marketplace of Ideas," Anya Kamenetz's (2010) "DIY U," Anthony Kronman's (2007) "Education's End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life," and Derek Bok's (2006) "Our Underachieving Colleges," among so many others. The book also closely follows points that were raised in the influential PBS exposé "Declining By Degrees" (with correspondent John Merrow) that aired in 2005. Most obviously, something is afoot on a national level in higher education, but the general public may just be taking serious notice of the complex dynamics that entangle the questions, choices, and curriculum reforms in American higher education.

    Selingo's text is divided into three major parts. Part I, "How We Got Here," addresses the market forces driving credentialing, a customer service approach to teaching, and the rising student debt burden. Part II, "The Disruption," addresses the many "shake up" forces in higher education like red-tape bureaucracy, low state-funding, students' inability to meet tuition costs, alluring alternatives to traditional college learning, shifts in public opinion about the value of higher education, the growth of more personalized learning environments, and on-line educational opportunities. Part III, "The Future" contemplates how our universities might evolve. Selingo offers a vision of five key ways that higher education may change: becoming more individually personalized, incorporating technology into more hybrid classes, "unbundling" the degrees, offering fluid timelines for degree completion, and linking financial risk to students' future financial earnings.

    The book offers a clear and comprehensive overview of interlocking, complex issues driving practical innovation and change in higher education. Selingo gives any reader, from college professors and administrators to families of prospective college students, a useful guide for making policy-related and personal choices. The prose is clear and his points are amply supported by the most current data. As a faculty member at one of the small regional universities currently struggling to find its way amid the many changes, I know that this text can quickly orient anyone to the scope of the issues we face, both as members of the "business" of higher education and as concerned citizens who know that education is key to the intellectual vibrancy, creativity, and positive development of our communities.
  • book junkie - OutstandingI have a really good marriage, and I have been married 11 years. Recently I have been frustrated with having seemingly ridiculous fights with my husband. While he often says he'll help anytime I ask, he seemed to get angry when I did. I figured I was asking wrong, and thought this book would help.

    Not only did it help with that, it explained a whole lot I have never understood about my husband. This was illuminating- and hilarious. I am now thinking differently about how I react to my husband in an argument, and how my actions affect his actions. I am more strategic- not only about what I say, but how and when I say it- it makes a huge difference. I underlined all sorts of things in this book and sometimes re-read to remind myself.

    This book is particularly useful because my husband (like many other husbands I'm sure) would never in a million years read a relationship help book. You don't have to make your husband read this book in order for it to work. I read my husband a few passages and he laughed out loud. He said it was all true and endorses the author's approach. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this book- its like an owner's manual for your marriage. I have recommended this to several friends- all of whom have thanked me- one said she was buying copies for her daughter and daughter-in-law! I will be re-reading this.