Book by Throop, Robert K. & Castellucci, Marion B.
Review by Teraya D. White
Academic Intervention Specialist, School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pittsburgh

Beginning with the preface, Throop and Castellucci emphasize that the ultimate key to success is the unfailing power of self-belief and self-belief is the underlying theme within each chapter. Reaching Your Potential shines best when the authors stick to emotional development, e.g., values, goals, and of course, self-belief. The connection of the power of self-belief to goal setting is highlighted in the Whatever It Takes section. Based upon the lives of Michele Hoskins, Doug Blevins, Elizabeth Vargas, Oseola McCarthy, Mike Krzyzewski, and Rosario Marín (to name a few), this section offers outstanding examples of success and excellence that transcend race, age, cultural and educational background. The entire book proposes that the reader evaluate his/her definition of success to encompass more than a life of accolades and financial gain. As Throop and Castellucci point out, “fame and awards are not the only marks of a successful life” (p.4).

This book is dedicated to the lifelong learner. A satisfactory amount of information relates to a student’s ability to evaluate his/her learning style, know how to read a textbook effectively, and become a better communicator. Unfortunately for the college student, much of the information conveyed is almost pointless and preposterous. For example, in the chapter that deals with the improvement of speaking skills, the reader is provided with minute detail on how to master the telephone. The reader is advised to “talk directly into the mouthpiece of the telephone and to apologize if you call the wrong number” (p.205). In a chapter that gives credence to the importance of developing verbal prowess, explicit information on how to use the telephone (particularly in an age where many students are technologically savvy) is a waste of time. With regard to the topic of time, it is unclear why the chapter on time management comes toward the end of the book. Time management is vital in all facets of life yet Reaching Your Potential provides no linkage to how time management relates to goal setting and the improvement of study skills. Instead, this topic is sandwiched at the end of the book between money management and career preparation (which are two appropriate endings).

Reaching Your Potential is a well-intentioned, well-written, feel good book that is best for two audiences: high school students and those who have been out of school for a considerable number of years. Although there is a great deal of information that would have benefited from closer editing, e.g., the fat and cholesterol quiz, Reaching Your Potential can provide direction to incoming students. The best features of Reaching Your Potential are in each chapter where authors recognize our multicultural society and urge readers to become more proactive and proficient on the “information highway.” Despite the book’s shortcomings, Throop and Castellucci provide a great snapshot of the beauty that can occur when self-belief merges with an action plan for success.

Reaching Your Potential (2005). Book by Throop, Robert K. & Castellucci, Marion B. Review by Teraya D. White. Clifton Park, NY: Thomson Delmar Learning. 417 pp., $36.95, ISBN # 1401881890
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