Book Reviews

Book by Kenneth Gray and Edwin Herr
Review by Stephanie Elliott
Academic Advisor and Curricular Coordinator
University Exploration
The Ohio State University

Other Ways to Win: Creating Alternatives for High School Graduates by Kenneth Carter Gray and Edwin L. Herr is an insightful look into the increase in under-prepared students attending 4 year institutions and addresses alternative options for success.  This book could be helpful to any academic advisor or college admissions counselor who works with students who are in what Gray and Herr refer to as the “academic middle” as it provides excellent insight into the factors that lead unprepared students to enter into 4 year colleges rather than seeking alternative paths to success.  Gray and Herr present data showing the increase in under-prepared students entering 4 year institutions as the result of the “one way to win” message they are bombarded with from an early age.  The result for these students is that many find themselves in academic difficulty, dropping out or, if they do graduate, unable to find a job that pays well enough to offset the significant student loan debt they have accrued.  Gray and Herr evaluate how well-meaning programs such as “No Child Left Behind” and increased financial aid access support the “one way to win” message and ultimately lead to negative consequences for these students and our economy. 

One of the things I found most useful about this book is that Gray and Herr provide practical information that can be used by advisors and high school counselors.  In one section they present and dispel many of the myths and misunderstandings that surround careers.  Advisors can use this information to help reinforce messaging to our students in academic difficulty that there are other paths to success.  They list specific jobs in a variety of areas that are high paying and do not require a baccalaureate degree, which can give hope to students who find themselves struggling to achieve academic success.  Finally, they present a comprehensive plan for how schools can provide students and parents with alternative options and establish a mentality of “many ways to win.”

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone in higher education as well as to high school counselors, school administrators and government officials.  The best features of this book are its readability and practicality.  It is a quick, easy read that provides a lot of useful information for anyone concerned with higher education and student success.

Other Ways to Win: Creating Alternatives for High School Graduates.  (2006) Book by Kenneth Gray and Edwin Herr. Review by Stephanie Elliott.  264 pp. $36.00, (paperback), ISBN # 978-1-412-91781-0.
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