Book By: Gardner, John N. & Jewler, A. Jerome
Review By: Amy Perkins
Student Success
Florida Community College at Jacksonville

“Get ready, get set, and go” is the call to action voiced by John Gardner and Jerome Jewler in the sixth edition of Your college experience: strategies for success (2006). The edition’s updates confirm the authors’ level of expertise in student success and demonstrate sensitivity to the changing world of today’s students. With this text in hand, professors and advising staff alike are “ready and set” to foster a successful first-year experience for students.

Gardner and Jewler discuss their strategies for success in ways that are consistently accessible for student readers. Exercises assist students convert abstract concepts into tangible ones. To better define personal values students “list fifteen items in [their] room (or apartment or house) that are important or that symbolize something important to [them]” (p. 131).

The authors achieve just the right depth of information on topics. Even with its focus on individual development, material is contextualized within the bigger picture of academic life, careers, and society. A variety of students will find the material relevant due to the inclusive language used, but the traditional freshman at a four-year university may best connect with the content and supporting scenarios.

Although icons in the margins highlight the relevancy of chapter exercises, the chances that a student will pause to experience said exercises is slim. Gardner and Jewler strive to incite active learning throughout the book but students may miss out on the wealth of resources without the urging (read that requirement) of a professor or advisor. Other resources, such as “Your Personal Journal,” could be invaluable reflective tools but receive little mention in the text. So what’s a professor to do?

Advisors and professors who take the time to familiarize themselves with the abundant resources that accompany this text will reap the rewards. The opportunities to customize the material for a given audience are limitless. Every chapter offers activities for small groups, large groups, and individuals. Just as the text reminds students to consider their learning styles, the exercises and instructor notes encourage instructors to build a course that incorporates diverse learning styles as well.

Gardner and Jewler know what skills students need to develop during their first year in college. To expose students to the concept of critical thinking, they emphasize that “the questions that lack simple answers usually are the ones most worthy of study” (p. 54). With that same thought in mind, this book can be a wonderful resource not just for professors of student success courses, but for new advising staff as well. Advisors meeting with students will address the same issues discussed in the text; wise advisors will proceed from “ready and set” to “go” by adopting the same type of approachable language mastered by Gardner and Jewler.

Your college experience: strategies for success (Annotated Instructor’s edition with CD-ROM and InfoTrac). (2006). Book by Gardner, John N. & Jewler, A. Jerome. Review by Amy Perkins. Boston: Wadsworth-Thomson Publishing, 201 pp. ISBN #0-4950-0033-7.

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