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on June 13, 2008
I enjoyed reading this book as well as learning what it had to say. The insights from the writers are helpful as a parent. My son is reading it now and I have given it to two new grad's. Simple, focused, funny and insightful. The obvious insights in the book are great for a parent who wants to share their college wisdom but time or communicatin may be an issue. It is modern with current challenges, dangers, and obstacles that a student might encounter. It also steers a student, new or transfer into areas that are fun and exciting that may lead to future interests. The area on working with the professors is very good and the whole book was terrific.
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on August 20, 2012
College is an interesting dilemma. It's a huge commitment in terms of time--4 to 5 years of your life--and in terms of money. At an average cost of $50,000 for 4 years at a public university and $128,000 for a private school, these are costs on par with buying a house. It's a whole lot on the line for an 18 year old. Even the brightest 18 year old kids lack life experience and can be overwhelmed by this whole new world. I know that I sure was at that age. It's a big step from the world you once knew. High school is free, generally a lot easier, and much more structured and restrictive. College, as the book points out, is not free, you have loads more autonomy and with it a lot more responsibility. It causes a lot of shell shock in teenagers. For that, I think this book is a great resource. I would encourage parents of college bound high school juniors and seniors to buy a copy. Read it ahead of time, and have your kid hang on to it when he or she goes off to college.

That said, I feel like there are some downsides. The book is far too casual about the academic aspect of college. It seems to focus on college less as a place to learn and prepare for a career, and more as a place to go for an experience. In scheduling classes, students are instructed to place higher priority on the identity of the professor who will be teaching the class than the content of the class. I find this is a bad lesson to be teaching kids. When you're out there in the working world, you have to deal with bosses and co-workers who may be difficult to work with, but you do it because you need to work and you need to deal with unpleasant people.

It further tries to teach the lesson that choosing a major based on the potential career prospects is a bad idea. I couldn't disagree more. I know it can be difficult to figure out what you want to do in life, particularly at such a young age. I've known kids who are in college but have no idea what they want to study. I think that maybe that kind of confusion means that maybe college is not right for them at this particular moment in life. College is way too expensive to just screw around trying to find yourself. I'm fortunate in that I have a mind built for computer science, mathematics, and engineering, so I mesh well with those sorts of in-demand fields. On the other hand, the liberal arts bore me to tears and I find the rote memorization and deep analysis of the issues that those fields demand to be a weakness for me. Some people don't take to mathematics, science, and engineering quite so well, and would likely fail if they tried a computer science major just because they thought it was in demand.

So am I saying that you should find out what the most in demand majors are and go straight for one of those? Not necessarily. If you suck at math, don't major in engineering. You will fail. I think you should be aware of the demand of various majors, consider your strengths and weaknesses, and TRY to see if one of those fits you. Think of where you excelled in high school, then research the job market, then consider what majors will play to those strengths. The book seems to imply that job market demand should not even be a consideration when choosing a major.

The book says that you should study for the sake of a love of learning. A love of learning is admirable. I enjoy studying history and the law casually, as a hobby. I don't pay tens of thousands of dollars and invest four years of my life on a hobby. When you look at college as an experience, rather than as career training, you risk falling in to the horror stories of the scores of young recent college graduates with mountains of student loan debt working menial jobs (or no job at all), trapped in a debt they may never repay. All because you thought that indulging your curiosities was more important than succeeding in life. College is a few years. Real life lasts for decades. If you enjoy the study of music, or art, or sociology, or history, or psychology or literature or whatever, you'll have a lifetime to do so at your own pace. College is an investment, not a hobby.

And this is where I think the book fails. By not being forward about the risks of being too casual about your college years, treating it like a 4 year social experience rather than what it should be--education for the purposes of upward social mobility and career preparation.
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on April 6, 2008
I was looking for a book to give my sister (she's had a little bit of a rough first year) to help her through college with some practical advice that she would actually read. It's a little tougher than it sounds. I checked out a couple other books and they either read like a textbook or were a little too cheesy. This book avoided both of those and made it sound like a real person was talking the whole way through, plus I liked the idea of having a prof and dean write it too.

Probably the best thing about the book was the way it broke down the major parts of college life and gave some very practical advice to make you more successful in each of them (like getting to know professors and keeping up with them after graduation....). I do wish the book had given more info on studying abroad for a semester but overall it was pretty comprehensive.

All in all, it was a great read, and my sister likes it. I recommend it for any undergrad.
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on May 6, 2008
As a teacher I am surrounded by students about to make the transition from high school to college. When I heard about this book I went out and got a copy. I read some passages to my husband out of the "Leaving Home, Phoning Home, and the First Trip Back to the Mothership" chapter. We were both laughing hard by the end of it. The true to life vignettes and insightful advice prove to be an engaging mixture throughout the book. Overall the book is informative, thoughtful, and humorous. The trio of authors blends their voices and experiences smoothly. I recommend this book to students and their parents.
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on June 19, 2008
When I read the book, Getting the Best Out of College, I immediately thought of how helpful it would have been for me, as a parent, to read it BEFORE my children went off to college. But that time for me has come and gone.

For upcoming high school graduates and their parents, the book presents a lot of very helpful information on college life - dorms, social encounters, and personal responsibility. One aspect I thought was wonderful was the encouragement to the new college student to look at the support system around him or her and appreciate and acknowledge it, whether it's parents or people who work in the dorms or campus to keep it clean and safe.

Better yet, I think the book is a great first-time read or re-read for a student IN college. The authors encourage students to contact their professors - THEY are people with interesting ideas, knowledge and contacts who are there to educate AND to give assistance with papers, internships, and recommendations for jobs and graduate school.

There is a tremendous amount of information in this book which would benefit college students and parents. Even the last chapter deals with preparing for life after college. The book has become my favorite high school graduation gift this year, plus I have also given it to my rising college senior to read now. I highly recommend Getting the Best Out of College.
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on June 13, 2012
If you're serious about wringing every cent out of your 100k college education, read Study Smart Study Less by Anne Crossman first. Her book is the cornerstone that will enable you to "Get the most out of college."
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on November 2, 2008
This book ought to be required reading for all entering college freshmen. It's humorous, practical, and doesn't waste a word. The breadth of issues is perfectly complemented by just the appropriate depth of coverage. I learned these things as a college counselor and found these authors to be very up to date and tuned in to the reality of college and college students. It can innoculate students against the common errors and prepare them for real adventure. I'm gift wrapping it for my son as he finishes his college applications and requiring it before he finishes high school.
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on August 24, 2015
Meh. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing wildly illuminating either. I couldn't get anyone in the house interested in it, including myself. I'll hand it off to a high school junior who is just starting to think about college. I bought this on a recommendation from a therapist coaching our son on getting ready for college, but he/we had seen most of this advice by the time we bought this book, the month after he graduated from boarding school.
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on September 25, 2009
This book is so excellent. I TRULY wish I'd had a book like this when I was going to college. I knew virtually nothing about college when I went, having no older relatives, siblings, etc. to give me advice. Had this book been available, it would have made quite a difference, I think. I did stumble and bumble around initially at college and eventually figure out most things. And, by the grace of God, I met wonderful people and had a super experience there. But with the advice in this book I would have been much less anxious going into college. I would have been able to navigate the clubs and activities better, understand scheduling sooner, and have been more intentional about interactions with professors, just to name a few. I very much enjoyed reading this book--it's humorous as well as informative. I intend to have my son (11th grader) read it next summer, for sure. In fact, it's now THE gift I'll be giving to any high school graduates I know!
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on September 7, 2013
Very practical and plainly awesome! It covered basically all a college student can encounter. My confidence level rose after reading this book concerning how ready I was for college. Great read, too! Very interesting! I would totally recommend it!
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