Book by: Gerald M. Greenfield, Jennifer R. Keup, & John N. Gardner
Review by: Melissa Gudiel
Administration, Leadership, and Technology Department
New York University

The US higher education system is experiencing a rapid rate of change as a more diverse student population enters with a unique set of needs and goals. In an effort to accommodate these needs and guide a student’s educational plan towards successful completion, institutions acknowledge the importance of a first year experience. By providing practitioners with an easy-to-use guide on how to successfully implement twelve different programs for a first-year experience, authors Gerald Greenfield, Jennifer Keup and John Gardner (2013) provide resources and outlines that can lead to improved focus on student success by institutionalizing the responsibility and leadership of the first year transition among all key players on campus.

As advisors dive into this guide, they will quickly see that each chapter focuses on one program, giving the option to read the guide as a whole or simply read the chapters that cover the programs they are interested in. Although advisors may not necessarily be called to oversee some of these programs in their entirety, such as new student orientation or summer bridge programs, they still may find that the guide, particularly the chapter on advising, is helpful in providing tools or questions that can assist in refining or developing programs for first year students. The authors intentionally clarify why a program is beneficial for an institution by applying well-known student development theories and research to back up their recommendations. As institutions grapple with scarce resources and division among departments, having this evidence can aid in convincing different constituents on campus to support a new initiative; especially faculty. The guide provides actual case studies of programs being conducted across various institutions and diverse student populations that do not apply only to traditional college environments. For example, it frequently uses programs at community colleges, which may have larger population of adult learners, ethnic minority and low-income students; groups that advisors many times need resources for.

The authors continuously state that the programs in the guide can be a great point of reference from which to extract ideas that can be modified within each institution to fit its capacity and culture. It is important to note, that because the authors take a non-prescriptive approach, some practitioners may dislike the repetitive and broad recommendations that are provided. If an advisor is looking for in-depth information on a particular program or assessment tool they may want to consider a book that just focuses on that specific program.

Although many of the programs that are reviewed may be housed in multiple offices across campus and not just advising, advisors should understand the various program components and dynamics that are being conducted for a first year experience. This knowledge can foster an improved and effective communication across departments. In a time where higher education is being evaluated, institutions will need to ensure that the programs they are funding are paving the way for our diverse students to achieve academic, personal and professional success that goes beyond the first year. This guide can be an essential resource for both new and old advisors who are looking for new ideas or new approaches from which to evaluate their institution’s commitment to first-year student success.  

Developing and Sustaining Successful First-Year Programs: A Guide for Practitioners. (2013). Book by Gerald M. Greenfield, Jennifer R. Keup, and John N. Gardner. Review by Melissa Gudiel. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. 368pp., $42.00 (Hardback) ISBN 978-0-470-60334-5

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