Book by Bob Nathanson, and Arthur Kimmel
Reviewed by Holly Martin
Assistant Dean, First Year of Studies
University of Notre Dame

The College Athlete’s Guide to Academic Success: Tips from Peers and Profs is an exceptionally well-designed and well-written guide to college success.  Specifically designed for use by student-athletes, this text provides the reader with a detailed understanding of the unique problems and challenges faced by student athletes. However, with its down-to-earth advice and perceptive insights into the details of becoming a successful college student, it will also be extremely helpful to parents and advisors, as well as to undergraduates not engaged in athletics. In addition, its reader-friendly design makes it likely that students may even use the book outside of a college orientation class.

This guide covers the most important topics in becoming a successful student, such as the transition from high school to college and the resources students need to make that transition well.  It also concisely and accessibly covers time-management and study skills, how to select a meaningful major, successful in-class behaviors, personal well-being, and preparing for the transition to life after graduation.  The basic list of topics covered within the text is fairly typical of college guides, but the format of The College Athlete’s Guide to Academic Success and its focus on matters of particular concern to student-athletes set it apart.

Nathanson and Kimmel have written this guide with a keen awareness of students’ need to think for themselves and discover their own best study strategies. The informal but purposeful style, along with the structure of the guide reinforces student engagement. Each chapter includes excellent and concise discussions of the topic from a professor’s point of view; these discussions are interlaced with supporting advice from successful student-athletes. The chapters also include frequent, brief prompts which help students think about their own learning goals and styles as well as create their own next steps towards improving their performance.

The attention given to student-athletes’ particular challenges and concerns is one of the highlights of the guide; the authors cover these topics with the kind of honest understanding that comes from long experience. For example, the authors’ understanding of how important athletic life is to students and how difficulties dealing with injuries and travel can affect the success of student-athletes, makes their discussions of these topics unusually respectful and useful. However, for the most part, The College Athlete’s Guide to Academic Success will be helpful to the non-athlete as well. For example, in the chapter on “Learning to Study and Learning to Learn,” the authors discuss the benefits and the pitfalls of the mandatory study hall many entering student-athletes attend. They begin by pointing out that,
    Although this can be useful in forcing you to budget time to hit the books, there’s
    a problem; Being around teammates can be distracting.  It may be difficult, but
    rather than waste the time socializing, focus on why you’re there–to study–and do
    just that. (100)

Students who do not have mandatory study halls can also use this advice; studying with friends can help to budget study time, but it can also be distracting if students end up socializing rather than studying.  From this insight, the authors, and the student-athletes who contributed to the guide, make suggestions concerning how students can learn to create their own best study strategies. It is the combination of concise information and prompts for engagement that make this such a useful guide for all students making the transition to college-level work.

The College Athlete’s Guide to Academic Success: Tips from Peers and Profs. (2008). Book by Bob Nathanson, and Arthur Kimmel. Review by Holly Martin. Upper Saddle River, N. J: Pearson Prentice Hall, 175 pp, $24.00 ISBN # 0132379473

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