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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
How to College

How to College

What to Know Before You Go (and When You're There)

Andrea Malkin Brenner and Lara Hope Schwartz

St. Martin's Griffin

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The first practical guide of its kind that helps students transition smoothly from high school to college

The transition from high school—and home—to college can be stressful. Students and parents often arrive on campus unprepared for what college is really like. Academic standards and expectations are different from high school; families aren’t present to serve as “scaffolding” for students; and first-years have to do what they call “adulting.” Nothing in the college admissions process prepares students for these new realities.

As a result, first-year college students report higher stress, more mental health issues, and lower completion rates than in the past. In fact, up to one third of first-year college students will not return for their second year—and colleges are reporting an increase in underprepared first-year students.

How to College is here to help. Professors Andrea Malkin Brenner and Lara Schwartz guide first-year students and their families through the transition process, during the summer after high school graduation and throughout the school year, preparing students to succeed and thrive as they transition and adapt to college. The book draws on the authors’ experience teaching, writing curriculum, and designing programs for thousands of first-year college students over decades.

Praise for How to College

“Relevant, timely, and insightful. A modern guide to all the things you didn’t know to ask about before going to college. With advice about tackling course readings, meeting your new roommate, and making the most of online apps to support your success, this book is a great primer for any high school graduate heading off to college!” —Rachel E. Aho, M.S., Associate Director of Housing, University of Utah

How to College is an unprecedented guide, workbook, conversational philosophy treatise that breaks down the transition to college into its smallest, most practical parts. As a university professor who routinely teaches first-year students, I found the book’s descriptions of college-level academics and writing personally instructive for my own classes. My hope is that all first-year students read this book and complete all the exercises the summer before starting college. The book manages to be accessible and starts at the ground level, yet never talks down to its audience and gives readers of varying comfort levels with higher education something to learn and think about.” —Angie Chuang, Associate Professor, Journalism, University of Colorado Boulder

"How to College is the best college prep guide I've ever encountered, equally strong in both breadth and depth. For breadth, the book covers every relevant topic I could have imagined for such a guide, and many that I honestly would never have thought of; all will be very helpful for rising college… More…

“Relevant, timely, and insightful. A modern guide to all the things you didn’t know to ask about before going to college. With advice about tackling course readings, meeting your new roommate, and making the most of online apps to support your success, this book is a great primer for any high school graduate heading off to college!” —Rachel E. Aho, M.S., Associate Director of Housing, University of Utah

How to College is an unprecedented guide, workbook, conversational philosophy treatise that breaks down the transition to college into its smallest, most practical parts. As a university professor who routinely teaches first-year students, I found the book’s descriptions of college-level academics and writing personally instructive for my own classes. My hope is that all first-year students read this book and complete all the exercises the summer before starting college. The book manages to be accessible and starts at the ground level, yet never talks down to its audience and gives readers of varying comfort levels with higher education something to learn and think about.” —Angie Chuang, Associate Professor, Journalism, University of Colorado Boulder

"How to College is the best college prep guide I've ever encountered, equally strong in both breadth and depth. For breadth, the book covers every relevant topic I could have imagined for such a guide, and many that I honestly would never have thought of; all will be very helpful for rising college students and their families alike. And for depth, to cite just one example with which I'm very familiar, the section on college writing is stronger than many entire books dedicated to that subject, and would be a vital aid for students entering first-year writing classes." —Dr. Ben Railton, Professor of English Studies, Fitchburg State University

"Offers practical advice for students as they make the transition from high school to college. Despite my experience in higher education, I could see myself reading How to College with my sons when they begin their collegiate experience and reviewing the checklists of things to know, do and discuss before you go with them. The authors have gone beyond the information covered in a traditional campus orientation and addressed topics that students often learn about when it is too late.” —Keith B. Humphrey, Ph.D., Vice President for Student Affairs, Cal Poly

"Provides students with practical advice and thought-provoking, timely issues to consider before embarking upon their new journey as a college student. The book is easy to read and covers a wide range of topics from study habits and writing an email to mental health, safety, and sexual misconduct. Sprinkled throughout are the voices of current college students, campus staff, and administrators who offer information, insight, and wisdom. The tone light, but serious – a recommended resource for high school students, high school counselors, and even anxious parents and family members!" —Donna A. Lee, Vice President for Student Affairs, Macalester College

"A comprehensive resource which will be valuable to transitioning high school grads and college freshman, as well as their parents, high school counselors, and college staff. It breaks this very complex time into many topics and offers manifold practical suggestions for each component. I plan to recommend it to parents and to fellow counselors." —Christine Ransom, Retired public high school counselor, Hudson Valley, NY

Less…

Andrea Malkin Brenner and Lara Hope Schwartz

Andrea Malkin Brenner, PhD taught in the Department of Sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) at American University for over 20 years. She created and directed AU’s award-winning first-year experience program and consults with colleges that wish to create their own first-year transition courses.

Lara Hope Schwartz, JD teaches in the Department of Government at American University School of Public Affairs (SPA) and is the Director of the Project on Civil Discourse. In teaching law and government, she draws on her experience as a legislative lawyer, lobbyist, and communications strategist in leading civil rights organizations.

image of Andrea Malkin Brennero
Carly Glazier
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Mike Olliver

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