Book by Virginia Gordon & Thomas Minnick
Review by Courtney L. Weiss
Academic Advisor, Department of Computer Science
Florida State University

This fourth edition of Foundations: A reader for New College Students continues to be a profound collection of articulate articles that encompass various aspects of college life. With the addition of new chapters on personal wellness, life after college, academic advising, and the role of faculty in students’ college experiences, the fourth edition is extraordinarily useful for college freshmen.  In fact, students should find it relevant beyond their freshman year.

Advisors will find that Gordon and Minnick cover topics that will aid those adjusting to the ever-changing student demographics. The authors promote ideas that are vital to proper advising of students. They have chosen works from educators with a wide variety of backgrounds to reinforce the idea that obtaining an education is not just about the classes you choose.

The format of the book supports student journaling of personal thoughts and feelings as well as provides stimuli for group discussions. Each entry highlights a unique aspect to college life and challenges students to examine what may happen during this period of their lives.  

The authors maintain that “college should be a road to your ambitions” (p. 4); this is an essential notion advisors should convey to students. The Foundations authors suggest that first time college students are generally confused during their transition period; they use thoughtful prose to present the case that it is normal to feel inadequate and confused. The book emphasizes that “choosing a major does not mean that you are choosing a career” (p. 57). This is pertinent to those in the advising community who routinely stress that students should know their options.

Foundations is full of true stories shared by professors. Many of these antidotes prove that although professors may seem harsh and strict in their manner, on the inside they enjoy a bit of humor.  

The text closes with a plea for acknowledgement of power. Students are the future; their education can lead to extreme greatness or extreme danger. This leads readers to believe that one person can make a difference and that we are all accountable for our actions, past and present.

Foundations provides a basis for the life of the current college student while it creates an excellent resource for advisors. This book could be incredibly useful to students as a textbook in orientation classes; it likewise should be an advising office staple for students to peruse as they wait to see their academic advisors. Foundations: A Reader for New College Students enlightens the reader as it addresses the tough issues our students face daily. I highly recommend this book for students and advisors. It is a reminder why educational institutions need caring and quality advisors.

Foundations: A reader for New College Students (Fourth edition). (2008). Book by Virginia Gordon & Thomas Minnick. Review by Courtney L. Weiss. Kendallville, IN: Thomson Learning. 320 pp., $43.16. ISBN # 978-1-4130-3287-1
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