What’s College About Anyway?, a book by Betty Thomas Patterson and illustrated by Agus Projogo, is one of those superficial children’s books that barely scratches the surface and manages to do just about nothing to actually educate the children who read it. Don’t get me wrong, the idea behind this book was great and I do see merit in telling children that they can grow up to be whatever they want to be, however, there’s a lot of ideological thinking on a dream that doesn’t quite match the world we live in today. What’s College About Anyway? spends more time pushing the message that college there so you can learn how to become the thing you’ve always dreamed of, but does not really ever delve into any of the important and more realistic aspects of going to college.
Though it pushes education, which is a message I will always support very strongly, this book never once points out the struggles that come with following your dreams. A kid might want to be a musician when they grow up, but the truth is that there are many people who study music in college will rarely find success to the point where they can support themselves solely by working within that chosen field. In fact, many fields are like this and often don’t pay enough. And while I love the optimistic feel to this book, I don’t want children to grow up with a false view of the world that, yes, you can be anything you want and manage to make it work in a way that allows you to only work in your dream job. It’s an unrealistic idea to sell and it hurts the children who grow up believing it.
And finally, this book never touches on any of the important pieces of college, past just choosing to follow your dream job. It never talks about college applications, never discusses how getting to know your teachers is important, never talks about what it’s like to live in dorms or eat in the cafeteria. The book is basically just an overly optimistic look at the idea of choosing a dream job and realizing that you probably can’t have it unless you go to college to study that area of information. And that’s good, but I personally don’t think it was quite enough. And as someone who grew up disillusioned about the world thanks to books like this and people who spread the unrealistic messages within my school, I find this book rather frustrating.