Once a week I try to review some book related to college in order to lend some guidance to a field that has become completely overrun. So many people are writing test guides and college help books that it is easy to buy a product which is not useful and which will be occupying space on your bookshelf for years, mocking your bad judgment.
Is college really worth it? This question has been asked innumerable times across the country and even the world. What advantage has college given you? The answer ultimately depends on the individual person. When utilized correctly, college is definitely worth it. However, if you spend your college time wasting money, taking easy classes, and hanging out with your friends, college probably will not be worth it for you.
College is not guaranteed to be useful or detrimental. It is simply an opportunity who’s outcome depends on the student.
Although many student know this fact, they unfortunately do not know how make college worthwhile. Fortunately for them, books have been written to help students make the most of college. Today’s book, 25 Ways To Make College Pay Off, written by Professor Bill Coplin, is exactly that type of book.
In this informative book, Prof. Coplin walks students through the entire college process while explaining how to make the most of each opportunity. Although this six-part book is written specifically for parents, I have found it to be useful to student as well.
First, Professor Coplin begins by discussing what he considers the three main goals of college: skill development, character building, and career exploration. Skill development, for instance, is one rarely-mentioned part of college that can often make the difference when getting a job. Most colleges focus on the academics and ignore skill building. Future employers will not really care much what your GPA was; they will be more interested in your work ethic. His three goals are paradigm shifting. Instead of focusing on academic development only, you will learn to improve in other areas as well.
Part two of this book is mostly written for parents. In this chapter, Professor Coplin explains some methods by which a parent can help their child succeed in college. You will learn how to coach your college-age child without entirely controlling his life. I especially like his points in this section about parents who get too involved in their childs work. For instance, many parents actually write their childs application essays for them! Obviously, that practice is nothing less than cheating… a fact which many parents do not realize.
In this section, he does a great job explaining another important idea:High school should be focused on career prep, not college prep. Many high school students make college their goal. In this book, Prof. Coplin argues that high school should instead be focused on the three main goals: skills development, character building, and career planning. In this part of the book, he includes some good information on the college application process – including tips for choosing a college.
25 Way To Make College Pay Off also explains a number of ways to improve your academic achievements. Here the author explains the dangers of underachievement, the pros and cons of transferring, and more. I especially found his chapter on graduation tips useful. He explained nine of the common reasons students graduate late from school. One point in this section that really interested me was his perspective on majors. Although many people emphasis the importance of choosing a major (and he agrees that it is important), he makes the important point that you do not need to feel that choosing a major is choosing your career. In fact, many students careers are in totally different fields than their majors. Do not be afraid to change your major.
The Other Half
The main proposition that the author presents in this book is the fact that academic achievement is only half the battle. To gain a successful career you need to do more than simply score well in school. The other half of the preparation is gained through non-academic extracurricular work. Using his school, Syracuse University, as an example, Professor Coplin lists a few of the many career, skill, and character building activities students can participate in. Although most of these activities are excellent, I do disagree with him on one point. The fraternities and sororities are not a useful student activity. Although you may gain some advantages from joining them, the disadvantages are far worse, in my opinion. The other types of activities include athletics, programs by university staff, non-Greek student organizations, and community groups. Each of those groups have individual advantages and disadvantages many of which are explained in detail in the book.
Many students do not have a plan for life after college. This last part of the book explains the pros and cons of the two options: graduate school or work. The author explains why graduate school might not be the best option at least yet. In addition, he explains how to find your first job and how to transition from college life to work life. Using thought provoking, real-life examples, he helps us realize that the atmosphere on the job is often very different from the atmosphere in college. Many students do not recognize the difference until it is too late.
Who Is It For?
25 Way To Make College Pay Off is a must read for every parent who has a child in college. In addition, it is vastly useful for enterprising college and high school students. Seriously, this is one of the most practical and useful books I have read in a long time. I highly recommend this book to anyone, student or parent, who is involved in college!