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Getting the Best Out of College: A Professor, a Dean, & a Student Tell You How to Maximize Your Experience Paperback – June 1, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“This book is written by people who know how to get students to do their best. For decades, the authors have been helping students succeed in the most challenging environments and now their insights are available to you.”

“This comprehensive guide will help students and parents navigate the full college experience, so they can take advantage of all that it has to offer from day one. I highly recommend it.”

“Amid the glut of guidebooks about selecting and getting into college, very few have talked about what to do once you get there. This witty, wise, and down-to-earth guide admirably fills that gap. It is a wonderful resource for students and their parents.”

“A refreshing, smart, and useful guide to college that should be basic required reading for incoming freshmen everywhere.”

About the Author

Peter D. Feaver (PhD, Harvard, 1990) is the Alexander F. Heh-meyer Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Duke University. He has over twenty years of teaching experience–as a teaching fellow at Harvard and as a professor at Duke. He won the Harvard Certificate of Distinction in Teaching (1985—86 and 1986—87), the Trinity College (Duke) Distinguished Teaching Award (1994—95), and the Duke Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award (2001). He has published numerous scholarly books and articles on national security issues, and he has served on the National Security Council at the White House, first as Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control under President Bill Clinton and most recently as Special Advisor for Strategic Planning and Institutional Reform under President George W. Bush. As long as his knees will let him, he can be found waddling up and down the basketball court–or more often these days, cheering his daughter and two sons from the sidelines.

Sue Wasiolek (more commonly known as Dean Sue) is assistant vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Duke University. She was premed at Duke (she never got into medical school), completed a Master’s of Health Administration at Duke (only worked in health care for eighteen months), completed her JD at North Carolina Central University and her LLM at Duke (only practiced law for nine months), and has been working at Duke for the past twenty-eight years. Sue loves the classroom both as a teacher (she teaches edu-cation law) and as a student (she plans to complete her EdD in 2008). Sue encourages students to study what they love and base their careers around what they love, even if those two are totally different things. Her time with students is not a job but a way of life. In her free time, Sue can be found jogging around Durham or working out at the gym with students.

Anne Crossman studied at both Stanford and Duke, earning a BA in English and a Certificate in Education. After teaching for public high schools, colleges, and the military for five years, she gave up her day job to pursue authorship and motherhood. A poet by trade, her work has been published in journals such as Nimrod and Margie, and she is currently finalizing a book of poems about Alzheimer’s disease entitled Trying to Remember, which is due to be published the summer of 2008. Her third book, a humorous educational series addressing life as a high-school student, is on deck and, if all goes well, will be hitting shelves by the end of the decade. Anne currently lives with her husband and sons in Seattle, Washington.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580088562
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580088565
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,124,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Whitehead on June 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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