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Podcast: Why Colleges Assign Politicized Trash For Summer Reading, And How You Can Do Better

‘Beach books’ refers to the reading assigned over the summer, used to help build community among the school and set expectations for the college career.

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Today on The Federalist Radio Hour, David Randall, the director of communications at the National Association of Scholars, joins Federalist Managing Editor Joy Pullmann to discuss the association’s newest “Beach Books” report and the trends such reports reveal.

“Beach books” refers to the reading colleges assign over the summer, most often to the incoming freshman class. Colleges use these books to help build community among the school, as well as set expectations for the college career.

“A great deal of students are not up to college standards,” said Randall. “This is remedial work, all too often. In effect, this program, and a great deal of other programs, are meant to ‘pre-chew’ the college-level stuff, to get you in very slowly and softly. The trouble is the admission standards are so unselective that there are a great deal of people who cannot be expected to read a college-level book and therefore you bring down the quality of the reading you assign. That’s affecting not just this common reading, but an awful lot of college curriculum.”

One of the more troubling trends found in the report was the assignment of a high number of modern books written by Americans, with a heavily politically left cast to boot.

“The point of college is to broaden your mind,” Randall said. “You are going to have great difficulties broadening your mind if you can’t get beyond Americans living now.”

Randall and Pullmann also discuss how listeners can expand their lifelong pursuit of knowledge, starting with NAS’s list of recommended books to replace the weak stack colleges are assigning students now.

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