Book by George McClelland & Jill Parker (Ed.s)
Review by Deborah Mayhew, Ed.S.
Director, Engineering Student Development & First –Year Advising
University of Florida

Some years ago, an undergraduate student described what led him to college.  He explained that on his 18th birthday, his mother told him, “Son, you have three choices: get a job, go to college, or join the army. You’re on your own now.” Not knowing what kind of job he could get, and not drawn to military service, college was the only remaining choice. The decision was made. Four years later, bachelor’s degree in hand, the same student faced the same decision: join the workforce, pursue graduate studies, or consider a military career. This time, though, his decision was made differently. It was deliberate, planned, and well-informed. During his undergraduate years, he had been mentored by an outstanding student affairs professional who understood the importance of preparing students for the transition from college to post-graduate life, whatever that might entail.

Stepping Up to Stepping Out: Helping students Prepare for Life after College is a treasure trove of useful articles that provide insights into the different transitions students make after they become undergraduate students. Academic advisors will appreciate the book on several levels, because the editors have taken care to assemble a well-balanced collection of pieces that address the context in which student affairs professionals assist students to prepare for life after college.  A brief historical overview traces the evolution of student affairs contributions from the in loco parentis model to today’s model of shared responsibility between student and mentor. The book illustrates the changing needs of generations of students over time, and explains the need for advisors to teach their students specific skills. Also discussed is the relatively new expectation that entire families may be part of the advisor/student relationship.

This book is packed with useful resources for the advising practitioner. Thoughtful, well-written articles address a variety of transitions that occur during the undergraduate years: the transition from a 2-year to a 4-year school, the transition from college to the workforce, or graduate school, or the military, and the transition from the military back to the classroom.

The chapter on using theory to inform practice provides concise summaries of theories that can guide practitioners as they help students to prepare for life after graduation. The remaining chapters are divided between programmatic and curricular approaches to each type of transition. Examples of programs and classes from institutions of differing sizes, locations, and student populations are discussed. The authors have generously shared course outlines, program plans, assessment strategies, and results.  Case studies provide clarification and an opportunity for the reader to consider the best ways to assist students.

Despite the many tangible takeaways the book offers, it is most definitely a collection of scholarly articles based on research and assessment. Readers who want to delve more deeply into any of the areas addressed will find plenty of references for additional reading.

Stepping Up to Stepping Out is highly recommended as a must-have resource that belongs on every advisor’s book shelf.  It is jammed with tools for addressing individual student concerns or preparing workshops or classes aimed at groups. It is also a user-friendly professional development tool for academic advisors, peer leaders, and faculty advisors.

Student affairs professionals do inspire their students. The undergraduate student mentioned earlier is currently the Vice President for Student Affairs at a large southeastern university.

Stepping Up to Stepping Out: Helping students Prepare for Life after College: New Directions for Student Services Number 138 Summer 2012 (2012). Book by George McClelland & Jill Parker (Eds.). Review by Deborah Mayhew. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass. 110 pp. $29.00, (paperback), ISBN # 978-1-1184-4397-2

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