Book by Karen Levine, and Alan Gelb
Review by Ember Keithley
College of Business and Technology
Western Illinois University

If you had the opportunity to tell new students a few things about college life, what would you tell them?  The authors of A Survival Guide for Students attempt to do just that. Here the authors cover a diverse range of topics including self esteem, goal setting, motivation, learning, studying, organization, communication, money and overall student health and well being.  They inform students that “this book is very focused on helping you deal with the demands being made on you” (p. 24).

Levine and Gelb challenge students to think in a broader context through the use of what they call “The Seven Guiding Principles” (p. 12). They ask readers to “determine what you value most in your life” (p. 12) by looking at the things they care about and arranging their time and activities accordingly.  These are principles the authors suggest should serve as a framework throughout students’ lives.

Success, motivation and goal setting are well-covered in the book. I especially liked that the authors remind students that the college experience is completely about them and their futures.  They encourage students to set realistic goals for themselves and state that the “deepest form of motivation is the intrinsic sort, where the desire to achieve comes from within you, not what your mother or your father or your grandfather has to say” (p. 56).

The book is small (4 ½” X 7 ½”) and read.”  Still, it covers a very wide range of topics.  I liked that the book focuses on students and strategies they can use to prepare for college life and beyond.  However, I was not as fond of the authors’ use of fellow student commentaries.  Some of the student stories and suggestions were not as helpful or constructive as they should have been. Some stories only highlighted the negative without providing students with the coping strategies needed to deal with similar circumstances.

The audience for this book is specifically students. The authors sought to help students navigate through their college careers and be successful in life.  This book is a good resource for advisors to remember the range of new experiences our students encounter on our college campuses and the uncertainties they face.  It also teaches and reinforces these same life skills for us as academic advisors.

A Survival Guide for Students (2004). Book by Karen Levine, and Alan Gelb. Review by Ember Keithley. Clifton Park, NY: Thomson Delmar Learning.  249 pp.  $14.95. ISBN # 1-40183-226-1.
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