Conditions of Use
OpenStax's College Success bills itself as "a comprehensive and contemporary resource that serves First Year Experience, Student Success, and College Transition courses." Indeed, with chapters on college culture, learning, time management,... read more
OpenStax's College Success bills itself as "a comprehensive and contemporary resource that serves First Year Experience, Student Success, and College Transition courses." Indeed, with chapters on college culture, learning, time management, academic planning, reading and note-taking, studying and test taking, thinking, communication, diversity, money, health, and career planning, I would say it qualifies as comprehensive, as these are all topics one might reasonably expect an Intro to College-type class to cover. It also includes three appendices and an index, but the index, as other reviewers have noted, is brief. There are some nice bonuses though, including resources for both teachers (an instructor's manual, PowerPoint slides, a test bank, etc.) and students available to download from OpenStax. Anyone who adopts the text should definitely take a look at the ancillary materials.
Content is accurate. Resources are linked to. Sources are footnoted. If the text has a glaring bias, it's toward college — i.e., it takes a pro-college position. That's probably to be expected with a text like this — and indeed, aren't all textbooks partial to their subjects? — but when you teach an Intro to College-type class, questions like "Is college right for me?" do come up and the book seems to assume that the default answer to that is "Yes," one just has to figure out why exactly for themselves. Sometimes, however, the answer may be "Maybe not."
College Success was first published on March 27, 2020. The web version, as of this review, was last updated on July 26, 2021. Given these dates it's no surprise the book feels up to date. If I had a criticism here, it's that the college experience the book presupposes feels like a pre-pandemic one. But COVID-19 altered the college experience, in some ways maybe permanently. Accordingly, it would be nice, I think, to see a book like this address topics such as online vs. in-person instruction in future permutations. That said, the topics it covers and the advice it offers are of lasting significance.
Text is readable without feeling overly simplified. Key terms, for instance, are defined. However, some chapters (e.g., the chapters on thinking and communication) feel denser than others.
Chapters are structured similarly and, to quote the book's own description, "[e]ngagement, self-analysis, personal responsibility, and student support are reflected throughout the material."
The text is modular. With the web version, for instance, one is able to easily navigate to an individual chapter (all of which are "stand-alone"), or to a specific section within a chapter. Within these sections are different headings, as well as images, tables, figures, shaded boxes, and so on, all of which serve to break things up into remixable chunks. Instructors could thus tell students something like, "Check out the 'Get Connected' box in section 2.4 of Chapter 2."
Does the order in which the topics are presented make sense? Yes. Could one imagine them being presented in a different order? Also yes. For example, the time management chapter comes before the chapter on reading and note-taking. But one might want to assign the latter chapter first. The good news is it's easy to do this. See my point about modularity above.
The web version of the text on the OpenStax website — which is what I'm specifically reviewing here — is easily navigable. Text, images, tables, figures, shaded boxes, etc. appear in my web browser without issue. There's an option to create a free OpenStax account and make highlights and notes.
None that I could find. If one were to find an error, though, OpenStax notes that "since our books are web-based, we can make updates periodically" and invites readers to submit suggested corrections.
The text makes use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. This is something the publisher, OpenStax, takes seriously. According to their June 2020 Diversity and Representation Development Guidelines document, "OpenStax undertakes substantial efforts to properly represent genders, gender identities, races, cultures, geographies, ethnic backgrounds, disabilities, nationalities, ages, sexual orientations, socio-economic status, and diverse viewpoints in our books." In addition to an entire chapter on diversity and "how it plays a role in personal, civic, academic, and professional aspects of our lives," diversity is woven into the text itself, and in a casual, self-evident way, too. Here's one example: section 9.2 contains a discussion of gender pronouns. Then, in the introduction section of the next chapter on financial literacy, the reader is presented with a story about a student who goes by "they" pronouns. The book doesn't make a big deal of this however. Its examples just are.
Indexing could be more detailed. read more
Indexing could be more detailed.
Specific information for student success is very accurate.
After a semester of using the textbook students found the information very relevant.
Easy to read.
The message for student success was consistent throughout each chapter. The author(s) were very clear with the message.
Faculty were able to use chapter information for on time instruction rather than the given arrangement of the chapters.
We did not use the chapters in the arrangement given as there were specific assignments targeted to given times in the semester that did not match the chapter arrangments.
The only navigation problem found by faculty was the matching of page numbers of the paper copy with the PDF/Word versions.
There were a few typos.
Found the title to be culturally significant.
This book has all the necessary components for college freshmen. read more
This book has all the necessary components for college freshmen.
It is accurate
It is relevant but could be updated a bit about learning and self-care in a pandemic.
It is well written.
It has consistent terminology.
The headers were well designed but the font is small. Some chapters have several bullets which is easier to read while other chapters were a lot of text. I felt it could use more pictures and color.
I liked the flow of this book.
I had no problem navigating the book.
It is inclusive.
College Success (Baldwin 2020) is truly a comprehensive textbook for incoming first year students who are making the transition to college. It takes the traditional themes of college success and FYE/FYS texts and makes them relevant to the issues... read more
College Success (Baldwin 2020) is truly a comprehensive textbook for incoming first year students who are making the transition to college. It takes the traditional themes of college success and FYE/FYS texts and makes them relevant to the issues of our times, including many hands-on and practical activities for student engagement and self-reflection for every chapter. The book is accessible to students of all backgrounds and experiences in their first year of college, and gives many examples of students' personal stories, real-life scenarios and visual illustrations. The authors were very comprehensive in their units on diversity, emotional intelligence, understanding civility, and themes related to cultural competence throughout the textbook.
The book is up to date with recent sources cited and relevant charts and graphs. Themes of diversity, equity, and cultural competence are relevant to current events and issues of our times. I would say that the authors could update sections such as health and self-care in relation to the current public health crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic.
As mentioned above, the authors have made the essential FYR/FYS college success topics relevant. There are many hands-on activities and exercises for students to help them understand the material/concepts, and put them into practice.
The text is very well-written and well-organized.
The format for every chapter is very consistent, well-organized. I especially liked the sections called: Activity, Analysis Question, Rethinking, and Where do you go from here.
Each chapter is a self-sufficient and independent module that could easily be used in any order that the instructor chooses. Each sub-unit could definitely be used in an order chosen by the instructor.
As commented previously, the text is very well-organized, presented in a very clear format.
There are many interesting and relevant images, graphs, and charts throughout the book that are well-documented, explained, and with relevant sources cited.
I did not find any grammatical errors.
The book is accessible to students of all backgrounds and experiences in their first year of college, and gives many examples of students' personal stories, real-life scenarios and visual illustrations. The authors were very comprehensive in their unit on diversity, understanding civility, and cultural competence. They include thoughtful material on implicit bias, identity and diversity, and changing demographics in the United States, They also look for a way forward with themes of digital civility, rules for fair debate and civility, and critical thinking: opinion vs. factual arguments. These themes of cultural diversity are present throughout the textbook.
I will definitely use material from this textbook in the fall for my First Year Seminar. I would suggest a glossary of definition of terms and concepts to help students who are developmental learners and/or ELL, English language learners.
The text covers the key areas and ideas related to college success appropriately. There are multiple ways to access the text, each provides effective ways to navigate the content. read more
The text covers the key areas and ideas related to college success appropriately. There are multiple ways to access the text, each provides effective ways to navigate the content.
The text provides accurate, error-free, and unbiased content.
Content is refreshingly relevant and up-to-date. The tech tools, even, established to the point where those may not even need to be changed or removed. It's apparent this was taken under consideration when developing this text.
The text is written in a very straightforward way. The tone is almost conversational and feels very student-friendly. The case studies and scenarios throughout the text along with easy-to-understand graphics and tables support the content in a very effective way, ensuring that even the more theory-based, jargon, and technical areas are relatable and support the student's understanding of the concepts.
The text is consistent in terms of terminology and framework. Some OER resources seem to try to do too much, including every concept ever discussed on any given topic. This text, however, effectively ties together the content in a very consistent way.
The text is super easy to digest because it's very well-organized with section headers, images, and a table of contents throughout.
The text is very well-organized with section headers. The content flows together seamlessly. When the text is viewed on the web, navigation arrows are present at the bottom.
No interface issues encountered.
No grammatical issues encountered.
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. Case studies and scenarios throughout the text provide a variety of different student perspectives that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds.
A text on how to be successful in college could be inclusive to the point of being overwhelming, particularly for a student making the transition into the early college years. The authors identified the most salient, action-oriented components of... read more
A text on how to be successful in college could be inclusive to the point of being overwhelming, particularly for a student making the transition into the early college years. The authors identified the most salient, action-oriented components of a solid foundation for college and beyond. Chapters offered clear definitions of cultural vernacular (i.e. syllabus, office hours), and a map for navigating available resources at virtually any institution of higher education. Broad concepts were titrated into clear, understandable formats, such as the chapter 1 table outlining “Six Areas of Adjustment for First-Year College Students” followed by the chart on useful “Help-Seeking Behaviors”. Each topic was addressed thoroughly, yet not in a manner that was too complex or esoteric for the reader.
The authors successfully wrote an evidence-based text with a neutral yet conversational tone. Particular attention seemed to be paid to the evolving research on how learning works, and opened up the possibilities for the readers instead of being prescriptive. Examples of this included how a light was shone on “not constraining learning activities based on a predetermined model” such as learning styles and MBTI preferences, while not dismissing the value of the learner understanding and applying these frameworks intentionally and contextually.
The authors seemed to plan ahead for keeping the content up-to-date. One example is reserving most of the text’s links to articles, TedTalks, and other recent sources to the “Where do you go from here” section at the end of each chapter, making these easier to edit, adapt, or update as new examples become available.
The authors seemed to have kept accessible language in the forefront of their writing process, avoiding jargon and defining any terms that could have assumed prior knowledge of concepts and vernacular, yet not in a way that may be experienced as condescending by the reader.
The text is structured in a way to offer consistency for the reader. Each chapter includes an Introduction, the content in sub-chapters, the Summary, a Career Connection component, a “Rethinking” section to revisit the questions for considerations posed in the Introduction, and a “Where do you go from here” offering resources and further action steps. Within each chapter is a story-based student profile complemented with aggregated student responses regarding experiences associated with the chapter’s main concepts or foci.
The text can be read in its entirety, or just as effectively assigned piecemeal without diminishing the value and impact of the content.
The text moved seamlessly from broader concepts and reflections early on to more strategy-based offerings as the reader progressed through the chapters. There did not seem to be any outlier or out-of-place topics. With the consistency of the sections within each chapter, the reading experience quickly becomes familiar and comfortable.
The text was intuitive to navigate, and all of the content was clean and clear.
There did not appear to be any grammatical errors.
As an administrator and course instructor at a comprehensive public institution, I am always mindful of the attention to diversity and inclusion. I believe the authors did an excellent job in this arena. While the text does not seem to be targeting a solely traditional-age student population, I think a potential enhancement would be to intentionally refer to the adult learner segment of undergraduate students.
The authors clearly had a broad audience in mind, including students, faculty, and staff. I appreciated the use of voice that resonated with all of these audiences. I also found the appendices to be quite helpful, offering a section with Recommended Readings and a section on “Activities and Artifacts from the Book”, curating the more experiential components of the text in one place for ease of reference.
This text is a thoughtfully-designed, solid introduction to topics that would be most relevant to a new college student. The 12 chapters cover appropriate topics of consideration - things like learning styles, time management, study skills, and... read more
This text is a thoughtfully-designed, solid introduction to topics that would be most relevant to a new college student. The 12 chapters cover appropriate topics of consideration - things like learning styles, time management, study skills, and financial literacy. It provides interesting student profiles and student surveys in each section, and analysis questions designed to help a student "dig deeper". There is an overall focus on the application of skills that would help any student work toward academic and personal success. The Index at the end seems comprehensive and helpful for navigating.
I found no errors in accuracy, either in theory, data, or possible bias. All information provided seemed objective and accurate. The data provided is consistent with what I know in areas such as learning styles, memory function, and cultural competency.
The main topics for each chapter are relevant and seem timeless. I did find that the information in each subcategory is more theoretical than practical, on the whole. A more abstract, theoretical approach can be useful in terms of not needing as many updates over time, but it creates a textbook that lacks a lot of practical tools that might need to be updated as more research becomes available. I would have liked to see more practical career information, for example. There is a 'Career Connection' subcategory at the end of each section, but it is often a thinking prompt instead of a concrete tool that might help a student become more major secure. However, the text also features concepts such as using personal values to help set goals are helpful and do not require updating.
The text was refreshingly clear of excessive jargon or technical terminology. It seemed well-suited to the reading level of a college student without dumbing down any information. The student profiles provided were relatable. The prose did tend to be more theoretical than practical, on the whole, so perhaps more suited to some students than others. For example, the tone and writing style would probably appeal more to a psychology major than a student pursing a career/technical program.
The information and flow of the text was consistent in it's style and set up from top to bottom. Each section followed the same layout and was easy to navigate. There was an introduction, a good number of sections (12), a summary, a career connection, and a "where to go from here" at the end. It followed the same level of flow throughout. There were a good amount of clear, relevant visual additions throughout, from pictures to charts. it also provided the activities all together at the end of the text for ease, and a comprehensive index.
Unlike some OERs that seem to have endless sections and subcategories, this one has 12 sections with a handful of subcategories for each. The sections seem relatively equal in length and content, which is nice for assigning reading in chunks. Each section is interspersed with boxes for activities or profiles, easily signaling the reader of what is expected. I read through the text from top to bottom and could imagine a student navigating through the sections with ease.
There isn't a necessary order for these kind of topics, but I found the progression to be a little clunky. I believe it might work better to alternate between soft skill sections (like thinking or communication) with more hard skill sections (like study skills or financial literacy). I would also have liked to see the text wrapping up altogether on something motivating and personal instead of ending on Safety and then Planning. But that is a personal preference.
The text was easy to read and appeared logically and linearly on my screen. Charts provided were easy to understand and appeared as a whole, not broken or confusing. Headings were well marked, and there was a 'Previous' and 'Next' button at the bottom of every section for easy navigation. This OER seemed particularly well-designed in terms of interface. I enjoyed the simplicity of it.
There were no grammatical errors that I noticed, nor any noticeable issues with word choice or sentence structure.
I thought that the section on Diversity, Civility, and Cultural Competence to be quite well-designed in this OER. It was modern, up-to-date, and objective, while still outlining sensitive issues relevant to higher education. The subsection on micro-aggressions was well-written and student-centered. The information in the Safety section was a bit like what you'd hear in middle school health class (about drugs and sex and not walking alone late at night), but not incorrect or irrelevant. The photos and graphics in the text also did a pretty good job at featuring some people of different races/backgrounds.
I have used OnCourse in previous College Success classes, which I loved, and also the OER Blueprint For Success in a quest for more affordable options. I like this OER in some ways better than Blueprint - it is more concise, simpler, and more straightforward. But it is also missing things that Blueprint has, like embedded video links and deeper student snapshots that help students relate or see themselves. I don't know that I would switch to this instead. I can see using parts of it.
This book is very comprehensive, it covers all relevant topics that a first year college student should read and integrate in their college lives. Important information on adjusting to college life to information about choosing a career path is... read more
This book is very comprehensive, it covers all relevant topics that a first year college student should read and integrate in their college lives. Important information on adjusting to college life to information about choosing a career path is covered. In addition information on making Academic adjustment, Cultural adjustment, intellectual adjustment and social adjustment all of which are important for achieving success in college.
There is high accuracy and impartiality in this book, no errors were detected.
This book is completely relevant for college students today. However, in order for this book to stay current the various websites given as supplemental reading along with the various assessments tests, such Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Clifton Strengths, Strong Interest Inventory, Keirsey Temperament Sorter, etc will have to be updated on a regular basis.
This book is very transparent. Each chart, graph, and the suggested activities at end of each chapter are easy to comprehend and easy to read.
The organization of each chapter is relatively good. It would have been good for the career assessments covered in Chapter 3 and chapter 12.3 to be merged together. All other chapters are consistent.
This book is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course. chapter 11.2 that focuses on Stress Management and Chapter 9.1 on Equity and Inclusion are good examples of chapters that can be easily divided into smaller sections.
This book flows very well. For example Chapter 1 provides a charts that outlines an average of lifetime earnings based on level of education. chapter 1 also gives information in a very organized fashion on college terms such as attendance policy, final exams, learning, office hours, plagiarism, study, syllabus and other relevant terminology that college students need to know. This information flows well in this chapters well as in other chapters of this book.
There were no interface issues in this book.
No grammatical errors was found in this book.
This book has a great section in Chapter 9.1 to 9.4 on Understanding Civility and Cultural competence. None of which is culturally insensitive or offensive. The information in this book on Equity and Inclusion is demonstrates makes use of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. I plan to use this book in my college Success course as it is very comprehensive and it offers a variety of success strategies that can be valuable to college students.
Overall this book is a very good tool for first year students and can include sophomores students as well. For example Chapter 4 gives good information on timeline for earning a college degree. Also a plethora of time management is offered in this book in addition Setting long term and short term goals, having a good note taking system and good study habits. I highly recommend this text book as a main textbook that can be used in a College Success and First Year Experience college course.
The book is quite comprehensive and covers most every topic that I enjoy in teaching this class – including the cultural shift from high school, financial literacy, academic/career planning, time management, etc. The only topic that I thought... read more
The book is quite comprehensive and covers most every topic that I enjoy in teaching this class – including the cultural shift from high school, financial literacy, academic/career planning, time management, etc. The only topic that I thought could have been covered in more detail is around self awareness and the creation of positive self talk.
The overall content in this book appears to be accurate and unbiased with appropriate citations throughout.
There are references that will need updating, such as social media platforms, starting salaries, and costs of college. However, they were written in such a way that I feel updates can easily be made as the text progresses. The inclusion of pertinent references to platforms such as Instagram, as well as links to numerous websites, is much appreciated to better connect to today’s college student.
The text is written clearly. Examples are given throughout the text for further information, along with graphs, photos, and numerous activities that link textbook content into a real world situation.
The text is highly consistent throughout. The chapters build upon the essential framework in a logical sequence, taking the student from the basics of cultural shifts from high school into a plan for beyond the college years. Within the chapters themselves, they begin and end with a survey in which the reader is allowed to consider their own understanding of the content on each side of the reading.
The text does an amazing job in this respect. Each chapter is divided up into smaller chunks of information with an estimated completion time. For students learning to navigate time management in college, this is a wonderful addition. The overall flow of each chapter is also presented in a way that is consistent.
The topics are presented logically, starting with self-awareness and self-management and then gradually flowing into learning, memory, and thinking and ending on notes that lead the student forward into college and beyond. As I noted above, I would have liked a more robust section on self-talk possibly included in that early course information.
No interface issues were noted.
No grammatical issues were noted.
One of the highlights of this text for me was the Chapter titled "Understanding Civility and Cultural Competence” which is often missed in other books. The topic includes why this is such an important topic in today’s world, along with fundamental information on civility, making assumptions, implicit bias, as well as on equity and how it differs from equality. The information given is a wonderful starting point for class discussions.
The listed topics are comprehensive in scope and contain all of the necessary topics relevant to student success. Including a chapter on financial literacy and healthy lifestyle was a refreshing addition to a book aimed at supporting student's... read more
The listed topics are comprehensive in scope and contain all of the necessary topics relevant to student success. Including a chapter on financial literacy and healthy lifestyle was a refreshing addition to a book aimed at supporting student's transition to college.
The theories, ideas, and concepts contained within this book appear to be accurate and descriptive.
Although the text does an outstanding job of including websites, apps, and other helpful resources, the issue with tech is that it is constantly changing. The book in itself is completely relevant, but will need to be updated within a couple of years in order to ensure all of the referenced tech resources are still valid.
All terminology and prose are helpful in clearly communicating with an entering student. The provided examples and case studies are also very helpful in linking textbook content with real-world scenarios.
The text is consistent and well organized. The framework builds upon the previous chapters and at times, emphasizes certain concepts that were previously discussed.
An impressive feature of this book is how it is organized into smaller sections complete with an estimated reading time. This could be highlighted by the instructor to model planning and use of time. Many first year college students struggle with procrastination, time management, and completing reading assignments prior to attending class. By providing an estimated amount of time that a reading should take, the author allows the student the opportunity to break up a chapter reading into several shorter reading sessions and/or the instructor to assign particular sections.
The flow was very good for this book with the first six chapters being the most important in building self-regulation. I would have liked to have seen the chapter on memory (chapter six) expanded to discuss the process of learning and how memory works in more detail. To that end, the discussion of memory and learning is an excellent segue to discussing the importance of reading and writing notes before attending class which is in chapter five. Also, I would move chapter four right before chapter seven.
The text had no interface issues.
There were no visible grammatical errors.
Although the book did an excellent job at including a variety of Caucasian and African-American student faces and names in examples, case studies, PowerPoints and test bank, I did not find many Latinx references. I teach at an HSI and could not find many culturally relevant material in this book. Most of my students live at home and commute to school and/or work part-time. Most of the examples in the book were geared for the traditional student that does not live at home and/or work.
After teaching a learning framework course for fifteen years, I have finally found a book that is comprehensive in scope, well organized, and comes with sufficient theoretical content so that I do not need to supplement much information. This OER book is such a welcome addition and I congratulate the author, Dr. Baldwin, on a job very well done.
Table of Contents
- 1. Exploring College
- 2. Knowing Yourself as a Learner
- 3. Managing Your Time and Priorities
- 4. Planning Your Academic Pathways
- 5. Reading and Notetaking
- 6. Studying, Memory, and Test Taking
- 7. Thinking
- 8. Communicating
- 9. Understanding Civility and Cultural Competence
- 10. Understanding Financial literacy
- 11. Engaging in a Healthy Lifestyle
- 12. Planning for Your Future
About the Book
OpenStax College Success is a comprehensive and contemporary resource that serves First Year Experience, Student Success, and College Transition courses. Developed with the support of hundreds of faculty and coordinators, the book addresses the evolving challenges and opportunities of today’s diverse students. Engagement, self-analysis, personal responsibility, and student support are reflected throughout the material. College Success also includes an array of student surveys and opinion polls, and OpenStax will regularly provide the results to adopting faculty.
About the Contributors
Amy Baldwin, University of Central Arkansas
Lisa August, Canisius College