Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds

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9780674004788: Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds
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Why do some students make the most of college, while others struggle and look back on years of missed deadlines and missed opportunities? What choices can students make, and what can teachers and university leaders do, to improve more students’ experiences and help them achieve the most from their time and money? Most important, how is the increasing diversity on campus―cultural, racial, and religious―affecting education? What can students and faculty do to benefit from differences, and even learn from the inevitable moments of misunderstanding and awkwardness?

From his ten years of interviews with Harvard seniors, Richard Light distills encouraging―and surprisingly practical―answers to fundamental questions. How can you choose classes wisely? What’s the best way to study? Why do some professors inspire and others leave you cold? How can you connect what you discover in class to all you’re learning in the rest of life? Light suggests, for instance: studying in pairs or groups can be more productive than studying alone; the first and most important skill to learn is time management; supervised independent research projects and working internships offer the most learning and the greatest challenges; and encounters with students of different religions can be simultaneously the most taxing and most illuminating of all the experiences with a diverse student body.

Filled with practical advice, illuminated with stories of real students’ self-doubts, failures, discoveries, and hopes, Making the Most of College is a handbook for academic and personal success.

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About the Author:

Richard J. Light is Professor in the Graduate School of Education and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Review:

Making the Most of College is an excellent book which will be of practical help to students and teachers alike. It shows close attention to the ways students learn; what they tell the interviewers, the author's own experience and that of other teachers together provide a rich account of the college experience. I will buy the book and use it, and be grateful to Richard Light for his sensitivity and creativity as a teacher and teacher of teachers. (Martin Trow, University of California, Berkeley)

Light, a Harvard professor with 30 years of experience teaching at the college level, explores those elements of college life that make it an enriching experience for students...[and] offers specific suggestions from students on how to deal with typical situations...Parents and students either in college or headed there will find this book a valuable resource. (Vanessa Bush Booklist 2001-02-01)

The book recounts...in 100-some excerpts from interviews with Harvard College students...revealing vignettes about how undergraduates make the most of their precious hours inside the classroom and beyond. Because the stories convey in students' words how they study, learn, and react to their peers within a residential college, it is memorably unlike anything else parents, students, soon-to-be undergraduates, and educators have read. (John S. Rosenberg Harvard Magazine 2001-01-01)

Some useful themes emerge from [Light's] decade spent interviewing more than 1,600 undergraduates: in-class and out-of-class experiences are significantly connected; strategies successful in high school don't always work well at college; good advising is crucial; students must ask for help when they need it; 'students are enthusiastic when classes are structured to maximize personal engagement' and they enjoy interdisciplinary courses. There are some surprises, too: students Light spoke with demand high writing standards and favor unpredictability in their professors' political opinions. A major portion of the book argues that the benefits of diversity on college campuses have been underestimated and that awkward culture clashes can ultimately provide a positive, if at the time uncomfortable, learning experience. (Publishers Weekly 2001-02-12)

Valuable and practical...An outstanding publication dealing with education and society. Filled with advice and illuminated by real stories of students' self-doubts, failures, discoveries, and hopes, [this] book is a blueprint for academic success...Students' actual responses are woven throughout, creating a revealing text unlike anything else parents, children, matriculating freshmen, and educators have read. This rich account of college life is recommended for all. (Samuel T. Huang Library Journal 2001-03-01)

Based on 10 years of interviews with Harvard students, the book distills their wisdom and quotes them liberally on such matters as choosing classes, studying, diversity on campus, and the importance of writing...What they have to say would apply on most campuses. These are people who talk thoughtfully but approachably about managing their time and making connections with others. Many make it clear that they've confronted their share of self-doubt and missteps...A good read for students, teachers, and parents. (Amelia Newcomb Christian Science Monitor 2001-04-17)

Harvard Professor [Richard Light] reveals secrets from his 10-year study of successful students. [Making the Most of College] offers practical advice to school administrators, parents and, most importantly, to the students themselves. (Alisha Davis Newsweek 2001-06-11)

Light's conversational, easy-to-read book is a primer for students and families investing in college and hoping to get their money's worth. Some schools, such as the University of Washington, have distributed it to all incoming freshmen. (Robert A. Frahm Hartford Courant 2001-06-18)

[Making the Most of College] is receiving excellent reviews both inside and outside academe. Already, at least seven colleges have ordered copies by the hundreds and, in one case, thousands. The title was recently No. 12 in Amazon.com's educational books category...Mr. Light's recommendations sound straightforward enough: Encourage collegial work. Urge students to get involved in extracurricular activities. Foster and promote diversity. Get students to form study groups. The list goes on. Scholars and administrators who have read the book say it is the research behind such recommendations, not just the personal touch, that makes Mr. Light's work valuable. (Alex P. Kellogg Chronicle of Higher Education 2001-08-17)

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