Higher Education

Chronicles of a Dumpster Fire

Fiction - Humor/Comedy
358 Pages
Reviewed on 08/01/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Ankita Shukla for Readers' Favorite

Veiled behind a chucklesome fiction story, Dr. Ashley Oliphant's Higher Education: Chronicles of a Dumpster Fire reveals the corruption that is rendering today's education system rotten. Clary-Smith University's unjust administration and a needless army of twenty deans have become the source of a constant headache for its faculty. Although the administration is rejecting/ignoring the expenses to improve the university, they are expressing no remorse in approving needless and extravagant trips by deans and sports teams. The only rays of hope in this doomsday level of chaos are Dr. Olivia Green, the associate professor of English, and the Clary-Smith Clarion, the underground faculty newspaper. While Dr. Green (aka Livie) tackles the senseless and illogical deans with her commendable (and heavy with sarcasm) wit, the Clary-Smith Clarion highlights the deals that the administration is making behind closed doors, sprinkled with hilarious tidbits of gossip.

Dr. Ashley Oliphant has chosen quite a unique method of telling this hilarious tale. Rather than simply narrating the events, she has presented the faculty's frustration through their group chats, the University's condition through the faculty newspaper, the communication between the deans/administrators/president and the faculty through their email correspondences, and the efficiency of the professors through the students' feedback. Even though the incompetence of the deans was incomparable and annoying, the meeting notes proved to be the funniest bits in the book. The effect of reading Higher Education: Chronicles of a Dumpster Fire has been nothing less than taking a spa retreat; it was absolutely refreshing. I highly recommend Higher Education by Dr. Ashley Oliphant to everyone who is in need of a good laugh.

Pikasho Deka

Higher Education: Chronicles of a Dumpster Fire is a timely satire on the dysfunctional educational institutions by Dr. Ashley Oliphant. Written as a prequel to her first novel, In Search of Jimmy Buffett: A Key West Revival, this book follows Dr. Livie Green, an associate professor of English at Clary-Smith University, as she navigates budget cuts, unruly students, unreasonable parents, and a highly incompetent dean who has a penchant for nepotism. Livie and her colleagues try to make the best of what they have to work with (not much), as they constantly find themselves in situations where poor management makes it difficult to get through faculty meetings sober. While the expensive four-year program for students yields negative results, the administration is more interested in banning the underground faculty newspaper that sheds light on its misdeeds.

Dr. Ashley Oliphant draws upon her own experiences of working in the education sector to create a rip-roaring piece of satire on academia that will have you in stitches. There is a particular statement made in the book that perfectly encapsulates what it's about: "Because higher education is a dumpster fire, and we don't have the budget to buy extinguishers." Higher Education and its sub-title are exactly what they imply. The characters are colorful and vibrant, and the sarcasm hits the nail on the head every single time. Livie and her colleagues gossiping about their higher-ups had some of the best dialogue in the book. This was an absolute blast to read. Highly recommended.

Vincent Dublado

Higher Education: Chronicles of a Dumpster Fire by Dr. Ashley Oliphant hits the right notes and strikes nerves by being bitingly sarcastic. Welcome to Clary-Smith University, a battlefield where academics try to keep their sanity intact amid the madness and incompetence that make academia an institution that is no longer what it's meant to be. The outlet to vent frustrations and express criticism is through the internal circulation of an underground faculty newspaper. The Clary-Smith Clarion has been published in the university for almost 70 years. It takes a stab at the aimless administration, but the figures that it targets find the articles slanderous. Nobody knows who writes the articles, and the witch hunt has yet to burn someone at the stake. Associate Professor Dr. Olivia Green may have something to do with it because she can find her butt with both hands and the administration doesn't want her kind among their ranks.

In its comedic take on the conditions that plague most of America's academic halls, Higher Education has a pressing message that no one should ignore. Olivia Green is bound to become an emblem for all that is no-nonsense and most effective in a university academic. Dr. Ashley Oliphant may have tailored her protagonist based on her own persona and experience as an educator. She writes with aplomb and her narrative mixes the medium of chat, newspaper, memos, and circulars, providing an immersive feel, and making you want to join a crusade to overthrow incompetent university officials. All the parts fit, and there are enough characters that emerge as individuals and contribute to sustaining the storyline. This is a witty blast on a serious theme that will be familiar to anyone who has ever walked school halls and dealt with authority.