Book by Betsy O. Barefoot
Review by Tracey A. Glaessgen
Academic Advisement Center
Missouri State University

While many universities focus on the transition that occurs for first-year students as they acclimate to a college setting, Betsy Barefoot asserts that “In spite of its importance to students and institutions, the first year is not the only significant transition period that affects student success” (p. 1). Thus, The First year and beyond: Rethinking the challenge of collegiate transition guides the reader through the various transitions that students make both within and beyond the university. Barefoot’s book is a compilation of different authors’ viewpoints on the transition process that takes place for students who are not the traditional first-year student; rather, important collegiate transitions take place for adult students, transfer students, and sophomores along with the complexities involved with traditional students.

To begin, the book addresses the idea that one of the key factors in a student’s success is how prepared the student is, both academically and emotionally. Understanding the roles that high schools and parents play are also indicators of how well students will be prepared for university life. On the other hand, the transition for adult students, who are either entering college for the first time or are returning after an absence, differs from traditional freshman. Another topic discussed is the continuing adjustment that sophomores face and the lack of university support for them. Similarly, transfer students may also be unfamiliar with the particular rules and policies that govern their new university. Finally, graduating seniors have a major adjustment to make as they leave the familiarity of the university to enter the “real” world. 

Part of the book’s strength in having different authors is also a weakness in that there is a lack of consistency in the substantive material. Some chapters provide a good overview of information and a few detailed examples; other chapters do not.  For instance, chapter three discusses the “whole” academic student, including scholastic readiness and emotional readiness, particularly with Millenials, whereas chapter two offers more statistical information that is probably more appropriate for college admissions personnel.  

While academic advisors should find that the book serves as a starting point for foundational information as various students begin their transitions to university life, some of the statistical information seems  suited to collegiate administrators. Although it is important that academic advisors have some knowledge of academic preparedness issues and academic expectations of other universities, it would have been more helpful to this reader if the author had included more in-depth examples of programs that have been successful at various universities. However, academic advisors who want basic information discussing the transitions that many university students, not just freshmen, undergo, then The first year and beyond:  Rethinking the challenge of collegiate transition serves as a great reference.

The first year and beyond: Rethinking the challenge of collegiate transition. (2008). Book by Betsy O. Barefoot (Ed.). Review by Tracey A. Glaessgen. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.  112 pp. $29.00. ISBN 978-0-470-44847-2
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