Book by: Lynn F. Jacobs & Jeremy S. Hyman
Review By: Kyle W. Ross
Retention Specialist/Academic Advisor
Academic Success Center
Eastern Washington University

The first sentence in the introduction of this book pretty much sums it all up: “This is a book about getting good grades in college” (p. xi), and the authors Jacobs & Hyman certainly present many valuable tips for first-year students as they transition into higher education to accomplish this goal. Understanding that students are the primary audience of this book, the authors also created an entertaining and humorous voice to keep the reader engaged. 

Professors’ GuideTM to Getting Good Grades in College is organized very clearly into five sections, beginning with general tips and information about grading and choosing the right courses. Then, the authors proceed to discuss the classroom environment, exams, papers, and the last month of the course, including finals. While the majority of the book consists of insights from Jacobs & Hyman as professors themselves, they also incorporate suggestions from other professors to bring in a variety of perspectives. 

One thing to note about this book is that it incorporates very little research; it is rather a compilation of opinions and experiences that the authors believed first-year students ought to hear before their first lecture-based courses. While most of the insights students probably have heard or will hear in their first term, some of them are surprising enough that students may “wake up” and want to learn more about how to navigate different professors and courses.  For example, students may not be aware that the professor teaching the course is not the one grading their exams and papers. Or, no matter how well students are doing in a course, because it is curved, some will fail and others will receive an A. These suggestions are geared toward large, lecture-based courses, but some of them can be applied toward smaller classes.

This book is a great foundation for first-year students as they transition into higher education, but advisors and educators should be aware of some of the tips in the book that they may not agree with. However, if used in conjunction with a first-year seminar or workshop, instructors can choose specific pages or chapters to read and avoid the suggestions they would rather not bring up. One example is that the authors suggested using ratemyprofessors.com, which is something not always encouraged due to the student opinions on the website lying on the extremes of positive and negative. If students do read through the whole book, then educators could have conversations around some of the more opinion-based suggestions. Overall, I would recommend this book for students, depending on their situations, their institutions, and if educators can follow up with them.

Professors’ GuideTM to Getting Good Grades in College (2006). Book by Lynn F. Jacobs & Jeremy S. Hyman. Review by Kyle W. Ross, New York: Collins Reference. 368 pp. $15.99, (paperback), ISBN # 978-0-06-087908-2

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