Becoming a Student-Ready College: A New Culture of Leadership for Student Success by: Tia McNair,  Susan Albertine, Michelle Asha Cooper, Nicole McDonald, Thomas Major Jr
Review by: Dr. Margaret Mbindyo, Assistant Professor, Academic Advisement and Student Development, Millersville University PA. Email: [email protected]


Becoming a Student-Ready College: A New Culture of Leadership for Student Success is the timely book our Faculty Learning Community (at Millersville University of PA) was reading recently. I had the honor to co-chair and moderate the book discussions and since I am a strong advocate for successful college transition for all students, this book review meant a lot to me!  We all know the diverse characteristics of students we are admitting as far as college readiness goes and also with most of them balancing multiple responsibilities. Yet when colleges decide to admit and open their doors to those students, they commit to a moral obligation to meet them where they are and support their future success. Success springs from a heartfelt commitment to serve all students equally.

The book poses an important question, “are the post-secondary institutions student ready”? The authors call on a new mindset and set of attitudes as these institutions plan, admit, transition and matriculate the students. A few years ago, I had the honor of serving as a K-12 supervisor for college career readiness in a local school district. As we prepared our students for college, we often wondered whether the post-secondary institutions we were sending them had intentional academic supports for them. The book points out that “deficit-minded thinking,” which blames students for being underprepared is common among college educators` (p 84). While this may be true, college communities can intentionally create support structures for student success. Student success begins when educators’ belief that all students can succeed despite who they are. Students need to hear that academic advisers and faculty believe in them for them to believe they can be successful (Umbach & Wawrzynski, 2005). Students need to feel welcomed, supported and connected to us and their peers in class. I agree with the authors that strongly encouraged inclusive professional development is crucial to help the campus community understand today`s students and how best to serve them.

This book provides clear and achievable ways that colleges can use to reduce systemic barriers and challenges that hamper student success especially the need for empowering organizational change through inclusive and collaborative leadership (P 38-39). It recommends the idea of distributed leadership practices (shared governance), diverse talents and collaborative efforts of the campus community where everyone becomes an “educator”. This model can be harnessed to improve student-centered outcomes. This means making sure that professional responsibilities including teaching and advising is done with expressions of care and emotion (NACADA`s Core Value) otherwise we lose them (Bucholz & Sheffler 2009). On the other hand, as they prepare students for college, K-12 school systems must play a role of teaching their students the crucial transitional skills including academic resilience and how to self-advocate as they progress through the schooling systems. These are important skills that goes hand in hand with student success. Lastly, I highly recommend this book even though some of the issues raised in the book might prove to be very uncomfortable but these are issues which must be addressed and courageous conversations started around them. If our higher education institutions are to become truly student-ready, educators must make difficult decisions, be accountable and question what student success really means.



Bucholz, J. L., & Sheffler, J. L. (2009). Creating a Warm and Inclusive Classroom Environment: Planning for All Children to Feel Welcome, Electronic Journal for Inclusive Education, 2 (4).

Umbach, P., & Wawrzynski, M. (2005). Faculty do matter: The role of college faculty in student learning and engagement. Research in Higher Education, 46(2), 153–184. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11162-004-1598-1

Becoming a Student-Ready College: A New Culture of Leadership for Student Success 1st Tia San Francisco: Josey Bass Books.  208 pp. Price $ 40  McNair, Susan Albertine, Michelle Asha Cooper, Nicole McDonald, Thomas Major Jr.; ISBN-13: 978-1119119517, https://www.wiley.com/enus/Becoming+a+Student+Ready+College%3A+A+New+Culture+of+Leadership+for+Student+Success-p-9781119119517

Review by: Dr. Margaret Mbindyo, Assistant Professor Millersville University, PA. [email protected]

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