Virtual Book Club

Welcome to CFCT’s Virtual Book Club!

In this time of crisis, with so many of us staying home, a lot of people find themselves with more time to read (and think big thoughts!) than they normally are able to spare.

So, the CFCT team thought now would be a good time to form a book club for our supporters who might be looking for good books to read about Higher Education. We made it a virtual book club so everyone can have a chance to talk about the book we are reading with fellow believers in the cause of free tuition, right from the comfort of your homes.

To start our club’s reading and discussion, we have chosen Paul Tough’s wonderful book The Years That Matter Most, a comprehensive and insightful look at the importance of higher education and problems with the existing system that are limiting its impact.

We strongly suggest purchasing a copy today (whether from Amazon or your favorite local independent bookstore) and cracking it open as soon as it arrives!

If you need more information about the book, watch this clip of Paul Tough talking about it with Sara Goldrick Rab on C-Span’s Book Club. And to give you a sense of how his book might inspire you to think your own big thoughts about higher education, we are publishing two blogs written by two different members of CFCT’s Board after reading The Years that Matter Most.


Below you can read analysis from members of our book club.

We also welcome your own contributions to the discussion if you are moved to write about your own big ideas after reading it. Just send your blog to [email protected] (please include "Book Club" in the subject line) and we will be happy to curate it for publication.


Michele Siqueiros on "The Years That Matter Most"

Posted by Michele Siqueiros on August 03, 2020 at 10:00 AM

In 2019, when the college admissions scandal dubbed Operation Varsity Blues came to light, like most Americans I was sick to my stomach. Abuse of privilege, wealth and power is not new. My anger wasn’t just directed at the families and the campus leaders that were engaged in the scandal, it was fueled by a frustration at how the least privileged, wealthy and famous among us, have to overcome a million hurdles in order to get to college, and when we do, we are made to feel as if we don’t belong. In response to that anger I wrote this earlier post as a tribute to first generation students, me included.

Reading Paul Tough’s The Years That Matter Most reignited some of that same anger and frustration.

Read more

Higher Education Needs to Put Students First

Posted by Alan Glassman on May 26, 2020 at 9:18 AM

After joining the CFCT virtual book club and reading Paul Tough’s book, The Years that Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us, I felt compelled to write about my observations of state universities.

In the book, Tough integrates an impressive body of academic research, interviews with experts on higher education, and the personal stories of individuals from lower socioeconomic circumstances trying to navigate the higher educational system. From family skepticism and pressure to contribute economically, to erroneous high school counseling advice, to biased admissions criteria and processes, to surviving in a brand new environment, these youngsters must cope with innumerable disadvantages. Although the book’s stories of those who succeed in meeting these challenges are inspiring, overall the book leaves you angry and sad.

Read more

Making Sure Every Student Graduates from College

Posted by David Wolf on May 01, 2020 at 6:58 AM

The story of an American education is the extension of formal, directed study over increasing increments of time, as the country and the world developed.  We know that at least some college level education is now a necessity to qualify for most work in America in the 21st century.

But, as amply demonstrated in The Years That Matter Most by Paul Tough, there are many challenges students still face should they qualify for and enter a college or university.

Read more

Why High School Should Be More Like College And Vice Versa

Posted by Morley Winograd on April 23, 2020 at 6:15 AM

The Campaign for Free College Tuition’s advocacy for making college tuition free is based on a belief that young people need to continue their education after high school to increase their economic success as adults.

Now, in a remarkable new book, The Years that Matter Most, author Paul Tough describes the range of barriers many high school students must overcome to get into college and how difficult it is for far too many students to complete their higher education studies if they do enroll.

Read more

We can't do this alone!

Our goal is to make higher education a possibility for every American, without regard to their financial circumstances.

We have a lot to do and not much time to do it, so your support is critical for our campaign to succeed. It’s with your investment that we can fundamentally reform how higher education is financed in this country, opening the doors to a more equitable society.

If you agree with our goal, our plan, and the urgency of the problem, we ask that you give what you can to help us write the next chapter in our nation’s history of continuously expanding access to universal, free education.

The Campaign for Free College Tuition is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established in the State of Washington in 2014 to educate parents, students, the higher education community, policy makers and taxpayers about efforts needed to fundamentally reform our nation’s system for financing higher education. This website and CFCT’s educational outreach activities are made possible through generous individual and foundation support.