1. Why are freshmen reading Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America?

The intent of the summer reading program assignment is to generate discussion of a contemporary issue in order to facilitate an energized discussion on topics related to democracy and civic engagement. Selection of this book does not indicate an institutional point of view. Rather the book serves as a departure point for a discussion of relevance and interest to students given the book’s focus on the economy and current working conditions of large populations of people in the United States who do not have college degrees.

2. How was this book selected?

This book was selected by a representative group of faculty and staff after a campus-wide survey as well as research of other campuses using a summer reading program. Over two hundred titles were initially investigated. After the campus solicitation, more focused attention was given to twenty titles that were nominated multiple times. The selection group reviewed these books and developed a short list of five books. After reading these five books, they engaged in discussion of the possible interface with the American Democracy Project. With input from faculty and staff, the selection group recommended Nickel and Dimed to the President’s staff who approved it. This book is used by many other colleges and universities across the country. Selection of this book does not indicate an institutional point of view.

3. What criteria were used in selecting this title?

The book is an engaging narrative and is written in a style that is appropriate for freshman level students. Additional criteria include the availability of the book in paperback, themes that are relevant to freshman students, and the likelihood that the title is one not used in either high school classes or course work the student will take in the first college year.

4. Why would students find this book relevant to their experience?

The book addresses critical issues concerning the availability and quality of jobs, and the shift to low wage service jobs from manufacturing and middle-management jobs previously more plentiful in our economy. These issues seem of utmost importance to entering freshman as they contemplate the demands of academia and weigh the economic benefits to be derived from completing their education.

5. Doesn’t this book present a one-sided perspective?

There are many points of view that can result from reading this book. A range of these points will be explored through class discussion, campus-wide forums and events.

6. What if I have a book that I think is a better choice?

Suggestions for future titles are welcomed. Please provide them to the selection committee for future consideration. A different book will be selected each year using a standard set of criteria available on the American Democracy Project website. This is a pilot project and any feedback can be forwarded to the selection committee for next year care of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs.

For additional questions about the summer reading, (585) 395-5646 or e-mail sarno@brockport.edu.