Richard J. Light - Making the Most of College

Making the Most of College is a good book for faculty and/or students to explore. Initially, I thought it was a great book, but the second half wasn't as exciting for me. Perhaps the first half is more interesting for faculty and the second half is more interesting for students.

The book contains dialogue (and some statistics) from Light mingled with quotes from students. Many of the comments I wholeheartedly agree with from first-hand experience. Those include the effectiveness of quick feedback from faculty to students and soliciting feedback from students for course improvements, the importance of--and techniques for--successful advising, and improved student response and learning from (highly) structured courses. Some items were less applicable for students and faculty at larger institutions. That is one of the drawbacks of the book--especially in the second half. Light tends to get a bit Harvard-centric at times, perhaps forgetting that most readers aren't students or faculty at Harvard. Sometimes what he says applies more to Harvard than it would at non-selective, public institutions where students aren't all of the motivated, cream-of-the-crop variety.

But don't let the above criticisms scare you away from Making the Most of College. There are many gems to be had regardless of where you are going to school or teaching. This is a must read for any open minded student or professor.

from the publisher:

Winner of the Virginia and Warren Stone Prize, Awarded Annually by Harvard University Press for an Outstanding Book on Education and Society
Why do some students in the United States make the most of college, while others struggle and look back on years of missed opportunities? What choices can students make, and what can teachers and university leaders do to improve more students' experiences and help them make the most of their time and monetary investment? And how is greater diversity on campus--cultural, racial, and religious--affecting education? How can students and faculty benefit from differences and learn from the inevitable moments of misunderstanding and awkwardness?

Two Harvard University Presidents invited Richard Light and his colleagues to explore these questions, resulting in ten years of interviews with 1,600 Harvard students. Making the Most of College offers concrete advice on choosing classes, talking productively with advisors, improving writing and study skills, maximizing the value of research assignments, and connecting learning inside the classroom with the rest of life.

The stories that students shared with Light and his colleagues about their experiences of inspiration, frustration, and discovery fill the book with spirit. Some of the anecdotes are funny, some are moving, and some are surprising. Many are wise--especially about the ways of getting the best, in classroom and dormitory, from the new racial and ethnic diversity.

Filled with practical advice, illuminated with stories of real students' self-doubts, failures, discoveries, and hopes, Making the Most of College presents strategies for academic success.