Book by Jennifer Latino, Sheri Moore & Scott Moore
Review by Laura R. Pittman
Academic Advisor, University College
Ball State University, Indiana

Teenagers preparing to embark on a collegiate journey are often unprepared (or underprepared) to engage in the various aspects of higher education.  Moreover these students often have parents or caregivers that are intent on doing all things possible to make the transition to college as smooth and successful as possible.  Connections: An Insider’s Guide to College Success by Latino, Moore and Moore is part handbook and part daily planner with the expressed intent to provide new matriculating freshmen with tools and resources as they bridge the gap between high school and college.
Connections: An Insider’s Guide to College Success is informational and covers the basics covered in many freshmen experience courses or tutoring center workshops including time management, learning styles, note taking, goal-setting, and taking tests.  And while the topics offered are not revolutionary or unusual, they certainly are the areas in which many of our students lack ability or could use extra guidance and support.  What differentiates this particular book from similar publications (like Life During College, Your Guide to Success by Arndt and Coleman) is its emphasis on soliciting student reaction and input through activities and reflections that make up a portion of each chapter.  For example, a chapter on developing critical thinking skills briefly gives the reader an outline of what critical thinking is, how it is important to the classroom and workplace, and a history of the term.  The short intro is then followed by a lengthy activity through which the reader is asked to write terms, use a dictionary to look up meanings, and discuss strengths and weaknesses with a peer.  The chapter concludes with another activity where the reader will list suggestions to assist him/her with developing critical-thinking skills including ranking 5 priorities and creating next-step actions.  This publication is clearly not one that is meant to be browsed through quickly.  It is, instead, meant to be written in, highlighted, and reviewed.
Academic Advisors may find Connections: An Insider’s Guide to College Success useful when interacting with students about a variety of issues.  Included in the chapter about writing is a helpful explanation that advisors could reference for students about avoiding plagiarism.  Advisors could also direct students to a list of tips to review prior to emailing college faculty or staff.  But perhaps more significantly is the planner section of the publication that advisors could show students as an example of an effective time management tool.  The daily planner encompasses over 100 pages of the book and includes a monthly calendar as well as weekly pages.   Also contained in the planner are separate sections to record assignments and tests as well as weekly goals, projects and ideas. 
The drawback for this particular book is that it is bulky.  As a guidebook to be read and reviewed, it is effective and informative.  The illustrations and activities contained within the first half are compelling.  But as a weekly planner, it is hefty and essentially contains 133 pages of preparatory “stuff” that a student could find nonessential when it comes to recording and managing daily assignments and activities.

In conclusion, Latino, Moore and Moore have created a visually interesting tool for students to use as they prepare for the college experience.  Although the subject areas are ones with which advisors are already very familiar, the activities contained within Connections: An Insider’s Guide to College Success may be helpful for advisors to use with students in one-on-one advising situations. 

 Connections: An Insider’s Guide to College Success.  (2010). Book by Jennifer Latino, Sheri Moore & Scott Moore. Review by Laura Pittman. Greenville, WI: School Specialty, Inc. 264 pp., $18.95, (paperback), ISBN 978-1599232935

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