College Success

Reviewed by Abhijit Suresh, Graduate Student, CU Boulder on 5/5/19, updated 7/1/19

Comprehensiveness rating: 4

College success is a comprehensive guide for college students to thrive in a college environment and graduate with flying colors. The text covers a wide spectrum of topics from preparing for exams to handling the finances. It is very challenging to compile supporting materials for a bigger audience such as students since there are a wide difference in the family, educational and financial backgrounds. Nevertheless, the material is a great resource in its current form and have scope for improvement. Strengths: Chapter review, figures, key takeaways, checkpoint exercise, activity and learning objectives make the material fun and engaging to read. It is easier to navigate to individual sections from the index. Weakness: A Glossary is missing. For example: if I want to know more student clubs and how to effectively make use of them, I have to use the find feature to look for student clubs. This might be easier to do in a laptop (PDF version) but it is harder to do it in Kindle or other versions. The preface should be expanded. It is unclear who the target audience is - Is it for college going undergraduates or graduates students. Does it apply for international students?. Can I skip chapters? What is the recommended way to read the different chapters ?. Further clarification is required for certain sections such as “Making money”. It is important to note that it is illegal to work more than 20 hours a week as an International student. This section is misleading in its current form and could potentially lead to losing the student status. A simple suggestion is to add a paragraph or two asking students to check with the International office before signing up for on-campus jobs. For non-international students, some universities provide an opportunity to work for more than 20 hours by signing a petition with graduate school. All the activity, checkpoint exercises are great but it would be easier if the students can print everything. Since it is not easy to print out 500 pages, an appendix section which combines all the printable sections into the appendix would be a great choice. The material (in my opinion) is designed and written as a one-time read. A few paragraphs on “How to monitor all this progress” could be useful.

Content Accuracy rating: 5

Content is the highlighting aspect of this material. The text is easy to read with no complicated jargons and presents a compelling case to follow the tips for successful college life. Strengths: The figures presented in the material are relevant to the corresponding topics and helps the readers to relate the figures with the content. The material is unbiased to a specific university or a group. It presents an extensive list of tips. Finances, Future and Health are some topics which are not really taught in universities. I consider these sections super important for any student to learn early in their career. Addressing topics such as generation gap, communicating with instructors are very useful for students success. Weakness: At certain times, the content seems overwhelming. For example: In page 333/334 of the PDF version, there is an exercise titled “Explore Your Interests for College Clubs and Organizations”. I find it hard to do the exercise without an example or two. I would suggest to include hypothetical examples to help the reader to do the exercise easier. I could not find material regarding leadership opportunities and the benefits of taking responsibilities. For example Student government.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 4

As I mentioned previously, writing this material is challenging since difficult to write for a wide audience. However, the authors did a great job of keeping the content up-to-date. Strengths: Sections such as “The Transfer ticket” on page 463, is still relevant to the students. These sections are very volatile in reference to the new laws and policies from the government. Weakness: In page 33 of the PDF version, there is a picture of students participating in a hackathon. Unfortunately, I could not find material where the authors talk about hackathons. Hackathons have become fairly common and are a great way to meet new students and work on cool interesting projects. I would recommend the authors to include links to other OER material if the reader wants to learn more about a specific topic. Version control is recommended to keep track of content added and removed. There is very little information about investing for students. It is important to mention details regarding the IRA (Investment retirement accounts), 401k, negotiating, tips for negotiating salaries with prospective employers and more.

Clarity rating: 4

The text is clear and written in accessible prose. However, not all the jargon/technical terminology used are explained in detail. For example; hackathons. I understand that it is not possible to explain each and every term in the document. However, it is possible to suggest reading material for those terms. This, in turn, provides an opportunity to refer to other OER materials and expand the community.

Consistency rating: 5

There are no issues with the consistency of the material presented.

Modularity rating: 5

The text is broken down into 12 chapters with several subheadings. Strengths: The font, spacing, and activities make the chapters easier to read and review. The text can be easily reorganized to emphasize difference student group and at the same time, it is easier to add sections without much hassle. Weakness: None

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 4

In my opinion, the text is a compilation of materials from different authors. As mentioned earlier, it is important to explicitly mention the target audience. For example, I believe “Thinking about thought” is not really useful. That said, different readers focus on different aspects. A paragraph or two on how to choose which chapters to read can go a long way in establishing a logical connection to the reader.

Interface rating: 4

I used the PDF version and found it easier to read and navigate. Adding a glossary is recommended.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

I was not able to find any grammatical mistakes in the material. However, some sentences especially (For example: “Time Management Tips for Students Who Work” section on page 88) could be passive aggressive instead of assertive.

Cultural Relevance rating: 5

The text presents generic tips for any student and in no ways culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. The text includes sections that are exclusively allocated to talk about diversity in the classroom. However, I would suggest adding information about culture shock and how to overcome it (preferably under the emotional health section).

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