Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds

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Overview

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 ...
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Overview

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?

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist

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

Harvard Magazine

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

Christian Science Monitor

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

Newsweek

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

Hartford Courant

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

Chronicle of Higher Education

[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

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Despite the author's having interviewed 400 Harvard students and visited more than 90 campuses over 10 years, his report on the findings of the Harvard Assessment Seminars would be more accurately titled "Getting the Most Out of Harvard." Rather than reflecting the experiences of average college students, his findings are more consistent with the experiences of students who arrive at prestigious universities already primed for intellectual inquiry. Yet some useful, if obvious, themes emerge from his 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. Still, the author's efforts to extrapolate from the experiences of these privileged students to the majority of college students are often unconvincing. (Mar. 5) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Light (Graduate Sch. of Education and the John F. Kennedy Sch. of Government, Harvard) interviewed 1600 Harvard students over a ten-year period to discover how to make the most of the college experience. The result is this valuable and practical book, recipient of the 2001 Virginia and Warren Stone Prize from Harvard University Press for an outstanding publication dealing with education and society. Filled with advice and illuminated by real stories of students' self-doubts, failures, discoveries, and hopes, the book is a blueprint for academic success. Some of the issues examined include collaborative selection of classes, talking productively with advisers, improving writing and study skills, maximizing the value of research assignments, and connecting learning inside the classroom with the rest of life. The 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 types of libraries. Samuel T. Huang, Univ. of Arizona Lib., Tuscon Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Martin Trow
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.
Booklist - Vanessa Bush
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.
Harvard Magazine - John S. Rosenberg
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.
Christian Science Monitor - Amelia Newcomb
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.
Newsweek - Alisha Davis
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.
Hartford Courant - Robert A. Frahm
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.
Chronicle of Higher Education - Alex P. Kellogg
[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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674013599
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 198,026
  • Product dimensions: 4.64 (w) x 7.96 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

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

  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Powerful Connections
  • 3. Suggestions from Students
  • 4. The Most Effective Classes
  • 5. Good Mentoring and Advising
  • 6. Faculty Who Make a Difference
  • 7. Diversity on Campus
  • 8. Learning from Differences
  • 9. What College Leaders Can Do
  • The Assessment Project
  • References
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2014

    I loved this book!  It really highlighted the importance of crea

    I loved this book!  It really highlighted the importance of creating an experience for students.  Also, it is a good explanation of what is missing from many online learning experiences.

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