Open Admissions: What Teaching at Community College Taught Me About Learning

To be Released October 22, 2017

Press Room Open Admissions book cover


New memoir by award-winning author, teacher, and community college alumnus Ned Bachus takes readers on a journey through one unforgettable semester with America’s most vulnerable students

“With humor and compassion, Bachus reveals the transformational work that occurs in community colleges in helping students reach their educational goals … [a] must-read book for anyone employed at a community college.” — Kathleen Hetherington, president, Howard Community College

For Immediate Release: August 2, 2017: Wild River Books will publish Open Admissions: What Teaching at Community College Taught Me About Learning on October 22, 2017. In a memoir that has been described by Roger LaMay (General Manager of WXPN) as a “love song to the promise and accessibility of affordable education,” author Ned Bachus traces the decision-making semester when he struggled with whether he should retire as a community college professor. Through the observant eyes of an award-winning writer and educator, Open Admissions details community college students breaking through barriers in ways that parallel the author’s own growth, integrating his insights on a four-decade career spent in education. Story after story demonstrates that the resources, guidance, and support offered at community colleges all across the country matter far more than we’ve been led to believe.

Open Admissions seeks to elevate the often under-appreciated status of community college in the national conversation about education.  For more than half a century, community colleges have offered an affordable launching pad to academic and career achievement, especially for those most economically in need.  Some famous community college alums include Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks, actor Tom Hanks, director George Lucas, and bestselling author Amy Tan, to name but a few. The impact of America’s 1,100 community colleges extends beyond the students they directly serve to the broader community and to the nation.

A self-described bad student from a working-class single-parent family, Bachus spent his first two years after high school at Community College of Philadelphia; in time, his mother, wife, and son also studied there. Knowing that before the end of 2011, he must decide if he will take early retirement or remain indefinitely in his dream job, Bachus tracks the fall semester’s stories, his own and his students’, as if it were his final turn in the classroom.

One of Bachus’s last students, a single parent who as a teenager had been on both sides of shooting crimes, told him, “I’m doing this for my little daughter.”  But his success benefits all of us.  As Bachus writes, “I taught writing. But really, I taught independence.”

About Ned Bachus: During his four-decade career at Community College of Philadelphia, Ned Bachus won multiple teaching awards, including the Christian and Mary Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.  His fiction has been anthologized, published in literary magazines, and presented at the Writing Aloud Series at Philadelphia’s InterAct Theatre, and has earned him fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and a residency at Ireland’s Cill Rialaig Project, where he began writing Open Admissions.  His Fleur-de-Lis Press book of short stories, City of Brotherly Love, received the 2013 IPPY Gold Medal for Literary Fiction.  A singer-songwriter, his songs have been recorded by numerous artists and performed on National Public Radio programs including A Prairie Home Companion.  He sings and plays percussion as a member of the Louisiana-style roots rock band Sacred CowBoys.