Press Releases | General Education

Top Higher Ed Leader Publishes New Book Designed to Crack the Code of Finding the Right College

ACTA President Emerita Anne Neal’s What’s a Parent to Do? equips parents with hard-hitting questions about free speech, academic quality, and campus culture
September 11, 2017 by ACTA

WASHINGTON, DC—Anne D. Neal, senior fellow and president emerita of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), published her first book, What’s a Parent to Do? How to Help Your Child Select the Right College (Rowman & Littlefield, 138 pages, $30.00).

With over 20 years of experience in higher education advocacy and scholarship, Ms. Neal’s book guides parents through the challenges of the college search, providing behind-the-scenes insight into aspects of higher education that colleges don’t advertise on admissions brochures. Ms. Neal attended Harvard University and Harvard Law School, practiced as a First Amendment lawyer, and served as general counsel at the National Endowment for the Humanities. Later on, Ms. Neal co-founded ACTA, the dynamic higher education organization that for 22 years has fostered academic freedom, high academic standards, and accountability on America’s college campuses.

The book empowers concerned parents to ask the right questions as their families move through the college selection process. Ms. Neal’s practical advice includes counseling families to investigate carefully the quality of college curricula, the institution’s commitment to the free exchange of ideas, and the overall campus culture, to find a university that will serve students’ unique needs. The book’s “selecting a college checklist” offers a concise and effective tool to accompany college tours. Taking an unflinching look at instances of ever-rising costs for little academic substance and limited student learning, What’s a Parent to Do? also offers parents a much-needed perspective on college affordability.

“Anne Neal’s book is urgently needed to help parents decode the complexities of college searches and admissions. Looking at issues that cut far beyond the glossy college brochures and tours of ivy-covered buildings, Ms. Neal’s book equips parents to ask hard-hitting and incisive questions during the college search process,” said Michael Poliakoff, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. “Anxious parents will find the chapter on cost and reputation especially relevant as they help their children navigate one of the most significant—and expensive—decisions of their lives.”

Throughout her career, Ms. Neal has worked for greater transparency in higher education and a renewed focus on student outcomes. She has also provided testimony before the U.S. Senate Health, Labor and Pensions Committee and the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. She serves on the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), the panel that makes recommendations to the Department of Education about accrediting agencies. Interested readers can buy Ms. Neal’s book through Rowman & Littlefield or on


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