The Thinking Student's Guide to College

I’ve always felt that parents and teenagers spend too much time worrying about getting into colleges. It’s too bad that teenagers, in particular, don’t divert some of this energy into making sure that their college years will be successful.
For everybody who agrees with me that the latter goal is vastly more important, I want to recommend a new book, The Thinking Student’s Guide to College: 75 Tips for Getting a Better Education.
A publicist at the University of Chicago Press tipped me off to the book, which I read last week. If you are only going to buy one college-related book this year, I strongly urge you to purchase this one.
Andrew Roberts, an assistant professor of political science at Northwestern University, wrote The Thinking Student’s Guide to College. This book is certainly needed during a time when an alarming number of students manage to graduate from college without growing academically. That’s the conclusion of another new book, Academically Adrift, that concludes that 45% of freshmen and sophomore learn little in college. I recently wrote about those finding here:
Do Undergrads Learn Much in College?
If teenagers follow Roberts’ advice about squeezing the most value out of their undergraduate years, they won’t be among the many who bungle their way through college.
Here are the eight areas that Roberts covers in his book:

  • How universities work. (If you think you know, you don’t!)
  • Choosing a college.
  • Choosing classes.
  • Choosing a major.
  • Being successful.
  • Interacting with professors.
  • Learning outside the classroom.
  • Going to graduate school.

Roberts ends the book by revealing how professors conduct their professional lives and it’s not pretty.
I think this book is an invaluable title for teenagers and their parents, as well as current college underclassmen. My fear is that it’s mostly going to be parents who read this book, but if parents share what they learn to their book-phobic children, I guess that’s the next best thing.
I will be sharing more about The Thinking Student’s Guide to College later, but trust me it’s worth a read.
Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of a new eBook, Shrinking the Cost of College: 152 Ways to Cut the Cost of a Bachelor’s Degree. She also blogs about college for CBSMoneyWatch. Follow her on Twitter.

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  1. But also, you don’t have to know exactly what you want to be in college. That’s part of the magic. You can go in thinking you’re premed and come out with a Finance major. Just get to know what the school is good for (especially the school’s you’re applying to) because if they have a great department, chances are you’ll have great job offers and great professors.