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Book Review: College Rules!: How to Study, Survive, and Succeed in College, by Sherrie Nist-Olejnik, PhD & Jodi Patrick Holschuh, PhD

College Rules!Are you thinking about going to college? Are you already in college and wondering why you’re not doing that well, or maybe you think you’re doing well but find that you’re frustrating your professors (and maybe even your classmates)? Are you completely unable or unwilling to be introspective and, therefore, have no clue how you’re doing in college? If you answer any of these questions in the affirmative, pick up a copy of College Rules!: How to Study, Survive, and Succeed in College today. In fact, read it even if you don’t think you need to. You’ll thank me later.

Originally published in 2002, College Rules! is now in its fourth edition, updated with technology advice and tips for adult learners among other things. Authors, longtime teachers, and PhD holders Sherrie Nist-Olejnik and Jodi Patrick Holschuh have done a marvelous job communicating the necessities, pitfalls, and escape routes of college life. I wish this book had existed when I was in college (or before). If so, I may not have had what I call my “first attempt” at undergrad. Of course, there are two problems with this book from the perspective of my former self: 1) it’s a book, and 2) it’s over 300 pages! I was one of those who never studied in high school, was in AP everything, involved in a number of extra curricular activities, and got an A in most courses. I hated reading, so I didn’t do it—why would I if grades were all that mattered? Well, college is not high school, as the authors point out on several occasions, and if grades are all that matter (they aren’t), then reading matters. (I, however, didn’t read anything until the summer before my final year of undergrad when I was required to read eleven books over three summer courses with no way around it. That broke my barrier of distaste for reading and cured me of falling asleep after every couple pages, but didn’t help any of my previous years of college. If I had not forced myself to read and read well [key], I never would have made it through my graduate work. I now read several books a week and get books for free [like this one] to review. Yes, we can change.) So, for students who hate to read, it may be beneficial to begin with chapters 18 and 19 in this book just to get a heads up on the importance of reading and paying attention, but know that the book is already written in a very accessible and engaging manner—this isn’t like one of your dreaded textbooks! (For the authors, this may be a good point to encourage the scripting and production of a short video series to be viewed on Netflix for all these millennials.)

From a professor’s perspective, this book covers virtually every question and concern I’ve had to or wanted to address but didn’t have the time or place to so do. Much of this is universal and doesn’t seem to change, to which my wife can attest with her students class after class and year after year. So, for those professors who need a resource to point to for struggling students—freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and even the late-blooming seniors—this is it.

If you are faculty or staff at a high school that has (or is looking to develop) college-prep curriculum, consider adopting this book. Many colleges and universities have a one-credit course akin to “welcome to our school/college” that could also benefit from this book’s incorporation. There are twenty-five chapters that can easily be spread out among a semester for college students or a chapter a day (reading homework!) for high school seniors. College Rules! may very well find its way onto all future syllabi as recommended reading, if not required!

Oh, so highly recommended!


*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.