Book Review: Academic Betrayal: The Bullying of a Graduate Student

When I saw that Loren Mayshark had written another book, I knew that I had to read it. I personally like how he writes his books—he writes from his heart. You know he’s telling a personal story.

The title and cover immediately grabbed my attention. When I picked it up to read it, I could not put it down. I finished it in one sitting. This book is Academic Betrayal: The Bullying of a Graduate Student. Since I work in higher education, the obstacles Mayshark faced fascinated me. I am confident his lessons will help me mitigate similar issues for students I come in contact with.

 
Academic Betrayal is about twice the size of his first book Death and weighs in at 153 pages. He organized the book into 10 chapters, an introduction, and a conclusion. It also includes an appendix where he included letters written to the institution. Mayshark pointed out in the beginning of the book that he changed the actual names of the primary actors to pseudonyms for legal reasons.
 
This is a story about Loren Mayshark and his desire to get an advanced degree so that he could go on to be a professor. He shared his journey leading up to the decision to become a graduate student, his selection for a college, and his decision to attend Hunter College in New York City.
 
To sum it up, Mayshark had an unpleasant experience at Hunter College. I’m not sure if I would have survived as long as he did without giving up in frustration. As Mayshark shared,
“Six years and tens of thousands of dollars later, I left Hunter without a degree. I attended the thirty-credit program continuously for more than half a decade, and paid for more than the thirty credits required for the degree. While in the program, I maintain better than a 3.6 GPA. And I walked away with nothing” (Mayshark, 2017, p.9).

In Academic Betrayal, Mayshark explained how they strung him along. Professors and administrators always promised they would resolve his concerns; yet, time after time, the concerns remained unresolved. Every time, Mayshark thought he was getting closer to his goal only to have the goal posts moved. Some of the issues related to a degree program that existed on paper but not in reality. The degree he was pursuing could not be given because Hunter could not provide a final exam although they said they could. When the exam was no longer needed, he spent many years pursuing a dissertation. Because of changing advisors, he had to rewrite the dissertation. More than once, he had to change dissertation topics. One advisor required him to rewrite a chapter over and over again without providing adequate guidance or coaching to help him resolve the issues that the advisor said existed. Because of the expense of living in or near New York City, Mayshark had to move away from the city. He then incurred expenses traveling to and from the city to meet academic requirements.

For the past 28 years, I have been involved in higher education. I have pursued my own degrees through a doctorate. Additionally, I have work 18 years in higher education: liberal arts college, public university, and now, a community college. While I have not seen the extremes that Mayshark has related, I have run into similar obstacles as I have pursued my degrees. I’ve also seen similar frustrations put upon students as they pursue their degrees. In most cases, this is due to lack of empathy on the professor’s part. They forgot what it was like to be a student. The focus seems to be on the system not about the learning.

If you are in higher education or have pursued a degree in higher education, I am certain that you will be able to resonate with much that Mayshark as shared. I hope that his story is more of an outlier than the norm. Because, if it is the norm, higher education is in trouble. While it’s important to have standards, I also know that you can raise the standards to make achieving them impossible. If you continue to move the bar, this results in frustration experienced by Loren Mayshark. I definitely recommend that you read Academic Betrayal.

Other Loren Mayshark books


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