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Ivory Tower

HD   PG-13 Closed Captioning

Andrew Rossi

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About the Movie

Is college worth the cost? Groundbreaking filmmaker Andrew Rossi (Page One: Inside the New York Times) asks the critical question about the value of higher education, revealing how colleges have come to embrace a business model that often promotes expansion over quality learning. With escalating tuition rates and student-loan debt now over the one trillion dollar mark, the once-great American institution is at a breaking point. Ivory Tower explores the current education crisis from the halls of Harvard, to community colleges, to online learning, providing an astonishing look at the university landscape.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 50
  • Fresh: 41
  • Rotten: 9
  • Average Rating: 6.8/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Rotten: Can't seem to decide what points it wants to make and ends up making none. – Neil Genzlinger, New York Times, Jun 13, 2014

Fresh: Though it makes a powerful case for the value of higher education, the film also asks pointed questions about reasonable expectations and what needs to be revamped. – Claudia Puig, USA Today, Jun 12, 2014

Fresh: Although stronger on breadth than focus, it's an appropriately stimulating take on a far-from-sustainable system ... – Justin Chang, Variety, Jun 13, 2014

Fresh: If you're considering college for your children or are just a concerned citizen, this comprehensive documentary gives you a lot to ponder. – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times, Jun 12, 2014

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

Missed the big picture

The movie had some ideas but none seemed to be developed to the point of building a case that colleges need to provide value and opportunity rather than endless worthless programs and cultural enrichment. The movie drones on about rising college costs without offering the perspective of relating this to job availability or income. In simplest terms if the "investment" in college (whatever the cost may be) were to pay off in terms of landing great upwardly mobile better lifestyle jobs then it would be worth it. However, the truth is most leave undergrad without any tangible skill sets or experience that are going to wow employers and make them open their wallets wider. The question is: could tuition be better spent in another way to further ones life (such as buying a home, starting a business, or simply not starting out life saddled with back breaking debt). These are the deeper issues I would have wanted to see this movie build up to.

Missed Many Major Points

While it was overall a good documentary, I think it missed the major points that many of these mid-tier and lower tier schools are not even worth going to in the first place, since they don’t offer competitive job placement post-graduation to their graduates like the top tier schools do. On top of that, their students will be more than $100K in debt, and likely never pay that debt off. Frankly, I don’t think it paid enough attention to the fact that there are more and more students going to colleges that won’t be able to offer the opportunities promised to their students (or the students wish for or see on TV, or see their Harvard level colleagues achieving).
Interesting, but also quite delusional as well.

Reviews here miss a salient point

The U.S. is one of the few first world nations that cost mid-6 figures just for a university degree, more for a masters, PhD or MD. This crucial point is that other nations invest in higher education for their citizens in order to create a competitive, global work force instead of a nation that can’t afford the investment in order to create a better life for themselves and their country. We’re only as strong as our weakest link, and thankfully I have had the benefit in being raised in and experiencing life in other nations, especially those that hold higher education as a right, not a privilege. Until this truth hits the U.S. in the head, things will worsen and we’ll become a land of customer service for tourists rather than an equal opportunity chance at the lost “American Dream”. Wake up!

Ivory Tower
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  • $7.99
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Released: 2014

Customer Ratings