Book Review: College Prep 101

College Prep 101Once 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.

Preparing for college can be a difficult endeavor. After years of being told exactly what to do while moving steadily from one grade to the next, suddenly high school students are expected to start planning for themselves. At first, this new responsibility can be somewhat overwhelming. What should I major in? What tests should I take? What part-time jobs or financial aid resources should I pursue? Faced with these many choices, one might wonder where and when to start. College Prep 101 by Lance A. Millis purports to be useful in this process of high school/college transition.

In this short (102 page) book, the author guides college students through the high school/college transition. In rapid order, he provides information on many topics ranging from choosing a college to moving to college to time management.

(Very) Introductory Book

This book is indeed a “101” course. With each chapter averaging less than ten pages, it would be impossible to cover everything. However, Lance Millis does succeed in explaining many of the basics. For instance, his chapter on college entrance exams in only six pages long, yet it still provides some excellent information. After a short description of each test, the author lists some tips for test day and finishes with three paragraphs on scores and retesting.

Information Gaps

Unfortunately, this lack of space does result in some important information gaps. For instance, while he does explain some of what to bring on test day, there is not any information about what to not bring. In addition, his book leaves me wanting more information about the differences between the ACT and the SAT. However, considering the brevity of this book, Lance does do well to include all the information which is included.

Useful Checklist

Although this book does have some problems, one feature that I really found useful was the high school checklist included in chapter two. For each year of high school, Lance wrote a useful checklist that will help you overcome “student block”, or the difficulty of not knowing how to start preparing for college.

His checklists include activities such as “Take the PLAN Test.” (Sophomore), “Talk with friends and family to gather ideas about colleges.” (Junior), and “Take CLEP/AP Tests, if applicable.” (Senior). This handy checklist will help you to avoid accidentally forgetting an important step, and it will provide tangible evidence of your progress as you prepare for college.

Helpful Packing List

In chapter nine, Lance includes a long list of potential packing ideas. He explains, while these items are not all essential, they will help you to start thinking. I entirely agree with his description of the list. Some of the items (such as a TV) would not be included in my packing list, but the vast majority would. My favorite item on his list is a “Bike and a good bike lock.” I whole-heartedly agree with that! Overall, this packing list is a great place to start.

Easily-Absorbed Notes

Another excellent feature of this book is the sidebar notes and tips. These make the key points more visible, so you can absorb them quickly while scanning through the book. After you have read through the book once, these tips will make it easy for you to quickly review the information you learned. In addition, these notes will enable you to quickly locate important pieces of information. This useful feature vastly increases the book’s value from my prospective.

Advertisements?

As I was reading through the book, I casually turned to page 49 and was suddenly confronted by a full-page image that looked like… an advertisement? Shocked, and somewhat disbelieving, I studied the picture. By all appearances, it did indeed seem to be an ad for a student loan company, of all things.  I had never seen an advertisement in a book before, so I wondered if I was mistaken. (Could it be a vintage ad?)

However, quickly studying the context and looking through the rest of the book, I found… two more ads for the same company! To my surprise, this book really does have three entire pages of advertisements. While these ads might not really lower the value of the book’s remaining content, it did make me wonder.

Incorrect Facts?

In addition to the advertisements, some of the information in the book in is out-of-date. Although the book’s copyright date is 2007, some of the information dates back to 2005. For example, Lance claims that a perfect score on the SAT is 1600. That was correct before the test was updated in 2005. Now the SAT perfect score is 2400. While this is only a small error, it is important, and it makes me wonder whether any of the information in his book could be wrong also. For instance, is he correct on the ACT perfect score? (I looked it up – he was correct on that statistic.) Perhaps this book needs a new and updated edition.

Who Is It For?

Frankly, I cannot risk my reputation by recommending College Prep 101. Although it does have some useful sections, the incorrect facts and missing information are simply too important to overlook. Besides, most of the information included in this book can be found online for free! However, this book does have potential, and, if Lance revises it and adds a couple hundred more pages of useful content, I might be able to recommend it.

I always dislike writing negative reviews, but I would rather write an honestly negative review than a dishonestly positive review. In addition, I am writing to help you, my readers, not to help the authors of the books I review.

Do you agree with my opinion of the book or am I misjudging it?

Leave a Reply