- Success in College: From C’s in High School to A’s in College
Success in College: From C's in High School to A's in College offers strategies and advice students can use to flourish academically in [End Page 77] college. Burns provides first hand perspectives on the most important factors he believes to affect student learning and grades. He also makes suggestions on what students should expect from college, how to mentally prepare, and how to approach each semester by offering them tips on scheduling, studying, and writing.
Burns's delivery is presented in such a way that it is effortless for students to grasp and retain. Concluding each chapter is a section entitled Burns's Rules. Here, the author emphasizes important points he would like readers to remember and reference. Throughout the book, Burns also includes research data and interviews of colleagues and students to support his claims in each section.
The author shares personal experiences in order to warn students not to underestimate the difficulties of college. "I wrote this book for those who think high school and college are similar but have no clue that college [courses] differ drastically from high school classes of the same title" (p. xiii). Burns begins the introduction with a story of his unforgettable experience with grain alcohol the night before his first day of college was to begin. After that night of misery, Burns pledged to transform himself from a mediocre student in high school to a responsible one in college.
King and VanHecke (2006) state that when students are in transition between high school and college they are often more open to examining questions about what they are doing and with whom, and where they are going. All students go through some form of transitional phase, and that night of drinking was a catalyst for Burns. The author wins his audience over with this story because it illustrates his evolution as a student. It is Burns intent to motivate students to believe that if he could graduate Magna Cum Laude, so could anyone else.
In this book, success in college is defined as earning good grades and learning. The book consists of fifteen chapters and is not divided into sections. Chapters 1 through 4 focus on the purpose of college and new semester preparation. Because many high school students have never seen a course syllabus, Burns includes a sample and supplies instruction on how to read it. Chapters 5 through 8 are dedicated to strategies for note and test taking, classroom behavior, and self evaluation. The author recommends that students implement regular study habits, assess underperformance, and ask professors how they could improve.
In chapter 9, Burns offers instruction on how and when students should approach professors. It is unclear as to what he advises. He firsts suggests that visiting office hours once a month is sufficient, and that it gives the impression that a student is committed to learning rather schmoozing for grades. Burns then goes on to state that students should have a reason to visit office hours. "Valid reasons include clarification of notes, a progress report on your performance, or discussion of the readings" (p. 17). It is obvious that the need for these things can occur more frequently than once a month, however, what Burns proposes is misleading.
Chapter 13 contains advice for parents who perhaps put unrealistic expectations on their college-bound children or university officials. Burns stresses that the students, and not anyone else, are responsible for their own grades. It is commonplace for parents to call university faculty and staff and question why their children are performing poorly, or ask why they are not being supervised. Burns iterates that parents must hold their children accountable for their grades, learning, and outside activities.
Perhaps the most important, invaluable advice Burns presents is about attitude and work ethic. "Hard work and not intelligence [End Page 78] strongly influences learning and grades at the collegiate level" (p. 2). These elements...