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College Survival and Success Skills 101

Marianne Ragins
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
John Curran
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This book might better be titled College — A Guide to Building Your Resume. The author’s degrees and experience are in business fields, and this shows in the selection of topics. Hence there are two chapters on how to invest money during college, one on starting your own business, and another three on money management. The longest chapter on academics is devoted to “Learning Beyond the Classroom,” which the author extols because it is an antidote to all those irrelevant and boring lecture classes, and it is a great resume builder. To be fair, a career-oriented, have-fun approach to college is reasonable. This approach is certainly encouraged by high tuition levels and universities’ ever-expanding credentialing power.

Who is such a book for? A student who is at sea, because they have no idea what they want to do or what interests them. This book could provide some encouragement to such a student. It certainly gives a sense of the many possibilities to be found at a university. So I might buy a copy for a student graduating from high school. On the other hand, the book may seem overwhelming to a student who does not have the flexibility, or time to spend, that the author assumes they have. The author encourages students to avoid complicating relationships or working too much, but to engage in extra-curriculars and travel. A student with free time may be common among “first-time-in-any-college” students, but I suspect less so among the student body as whole.

Where the book disappoints me is its advice about academics, which is unexceptional and short. For example, the list of how to get the most from your course (and professor) mentions be on time, sit up front, ask questions, visit the professor often, and finally… take notes. An interesting idea, that. There is a brief discussion of how to improve one’s writing, but there is no discussion of mathematics. This surprised me, since mathematics can be a stumbling block for many students.

Reviewed by John Curran, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Eastern Michigan University. Dr. Curran and coordinates the actuarial science program at Eastern Michigan. Dr. Curran worked for a Wall Street firm for several years before obtaining his Ph.D. in applied mathematics from Brown University.

1 - Campus Resources                                                                        

  • The Career/Development Center                                              
  • Writing Centers                                                                
  • Academic Advisement Center                                            
  • The Library                                                                   
  • The Student Union                                                               
  • The Student Health Center                                                        
  • Other Resources                                                               
  • Top 12 Places to Find When You Arrive on Campus                      

2 - Using Campus Resources to Address Special Issues, Situations, or Problems       

3 - Choosing a Major                                                                      

  • Does the Major Really Determine Your Career?                                
  • If You’re Not Progressing and Dread Going to Class, What Should
    You Do?                                                                        

4 - Getting the Most From Your Classes and Your Professor                        

5 - On Track to Graduate: Time Management and Staying On Schedule                

  • Time Management                                                                
  • Staying On Schedule                                                                

6 - Strategies for Boosting Your GPA and Developing Good Study Habits                

  • Calculating Your GPA                                                        
  • Making the Best Grades                                                        
  • Developing Good Study Habits                                                

7 - Learning Beyond the Classroom                                                        

  • Benefits                                                                        
  • Experimental or Occupational Learning                                        
  • Internships                                                                        
  • Cooperative Education                                                        
  • Summer Jobs/Programs                                                        
  • Research Programs                                                                
  • Directed Individual Study (DIS)                                                
  • Reading Courses                                                                
  • Internships, Co-Ops, and Summer Job Opportunities By Industry                 

8 - The International Experience                                                        

  • Going Abroad – The Basics                                                        
  • Overseas Job Opportunities    
  • Study Abroad                                                                        
  • Immersion Programs and Intensive Language Study                                

9 - Other College Opportunities                                                        

  • University Exchange Programs                                                
  • Double Major                                                                        
  • A Minor                                                                        
  • 3-2, 3-1, 2-2 Programs                                                        
  • Contests & Competitions                                                              
  • Honors Program                                                                
  • Interdisciplinary Programs                                                        
  • Early Admission Programs                                                        
  • Conferences/Forums                                                                

10 - Life After Class                                                                        

  • Organizations and Activities                                                                                                                
  • Getting Along With Roommates                                                
  • Romantic Relationships                                                        

11 - Fun Within the Walls                                                                

  • Special Interest Clubs                                                                
  • The Greek Life                                                                
  • College Parties and Pastimes                                                        

12 - Working Around Campus                                                        

  • Work Study                                                                        
  • Community Service and Volunteering                                        
  • Professional Trade Experience and Campus Organizations                        

13 - Networking and Professional Development                                        

  • Receptions                                                                        
  • College Recruitment Conferences/Job Fairs                                        
  • Career Fairs                                                                        
  • Associations                                                                        
  • Interviews                                                                        
  • Information Sessions                                                                
  • Faculty and Staff                                                                
  • Graduate and Professional School Days                                        
  • Networking Tools                                                                
  • Developing Interpersonal Skills                                                                                           

14 - The Student Entrepreneur                                                        

  • Advertising                                                                        
  • Advice                                                                                
  • Where Do I Get The Money To Pay Start-Up Costs?                        

15 - The College Investor                                                                

  • Mutual Funds                                                                        
  • Saving Bonds                                                                        
  • Certificates of Deposit                                                        

16 - Building a Blue-Chip Stock Portfolio on a College Student’s Budget                

  • Discount Brokers                                                                
  • Companies Allowing Direct Stock Purchases                                
  • Investment Clubs                                                                

17 - Handling Credit Cards – Keys to Graduating With Little or No Debt                

  • Common Credit Card Mistakes                                                
  • Your Credit Report                                                                

18 - Student Loans and Your Future                                                        

  • Before You Borrow                                                                
  • Alternative Ways of Paying Off Education Loans                                
  • Why Credit Cards Are a Bad Idea for Funding an Education                

19 - Getting More Financial Aid to Finish College                                        

20 - I Am So Lonely Being Away From Home. What Can I Do?                          

21 - Top 10 College Pitfalls and Essential Tips for College Survival                

22 - College Prep for High School Students                                                

  • What I Wish I Knew Before I Entered College                                
  • Advice from Current College Students and Recent Grads                         
  • Keys to Preparing for College in High School                                

23 - Final Thoughts