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Reviewed by:
  • Transforming the First Year of College for Students of Color
  • Stephanie M. Foote
Transforming the First Year of College for Students of Color Laura I. Rendón, Mildred García, and Dawn Person (Eds.) Columbia, SC: National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, 2004, 208 pages, $35 (softcover)

This monograph, a collaborative effort of several authors, serves as a handbook for all first-year student educators. With an increase in the number of students of color enrolling in colleges and universities, it is an important time for a publication such as this. In addition to its timeliness, the monograph provides information that creates a foundation for understanding the college transition for students of color, and suggests methods to use to transform that experience. The authors represent diverse voices and backgrounds and used current and predictive statistics throughout each chapter to support the concept of transformation. They also presented the college transition of many first-year students of color with the use of narratives throughout the chapters. The inclusion of student experiences contributes to the overall practicality and appeal of this publication, and helps to distinguish the monograph from other literature.

The need for transformation in the first-year experience for students of color is introduced in the foreword written by Gwendolyn Jordan Dungy and continues through the first chapter of the monograph. The reader is immediately convinced of the urgency of this as the authors of the first chapter wrote that the effects of programming on the experience of first-year students of color can transcend the first year, and essentially contribute to the retention and eventual graduation of these students. The authors of this chapter provided enrollment and degree attainment data to help the reader understand enrollment trends among students of color. The second chapter provides a foundation for the reader to begin to understand the pre-college experience in addition to value and goal development of students of color. This chapter is of particular importance because it begins to establish differences between student groups that comprise the collective "students of color" group. This understanding is further explored in the third chapter, which is devoted to the college transition. Although some of the transitional concepts provided in this chapter (separation, validation, and involvement) are often considered part of the vocabulary of first-year student educators, this chapter serves as a reminder that the college transition can be similar to that of the majority group and also dramatically different for students of color. The final section of this chapter provides a number of examples of programs and initiatives that focus on the college transition, all of which are particularly useful in assisting students of color, but can also be applicable in work with other student groups.

The second section of the monograph presents the concept of inclusiveness of all students both in and out of the classroom. The first chapter in this section is specifically devoted to promoting an inclusive environment within the classroom and speaks to the need to reform curricula to promote and represent the voices and experiences of students of color. Additionally, the chapter addresses methods of engaging students in classroom discourse, and reminds the reader that curricula and pedagogical transformation [End Page 351] are on-going processes. The authors of the fifth chapter introduced another facet of student engagement and success: intragroup (interaction within one group) and intergroup (interaction with members of other groups) relations. Throughout the chapter, they supported the necessity of both forms of interaction through an array of examples illustrating the relationship between involvement and success of first-year students of color. Chapter six further develops the importance of engagement through exploring academic and social integration for students of color, and provides a wealth of strategies for educators to employ to help students become more fully integrated in the process of higher education.

Section three presents a comprehensive snapshot of the first-year experience of five student populations that help to comprise the students of color group. Each chapter provides recommendations, suggestions, and examples of methods that can be used to transform the first-year experience for that student group. This section is of particular importance...


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pp. 351-352
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