- Today’s College Students: A Reader ed. by Pietro A. Sasso and Joseph L. DeVitis
Today’s College Students: A Reader, edited by Pietro A. Sasso and Joseph L. DeVitis (2015), is a comprehensive exploration of the diverse college students on campuses throughout the United States. It thoroughly explores the complexities facing students across social identity groups (i.e., race, gender, disability, sexual orientation), functional areas (i.e., sororities and fraternities, residential life), and important issues (i.e., mental health, drinking, service-learning, enrollment, persistence).
The editors thoughtfully frame the content within current academic capitalistic culture and era of institutional efficiency. Most authors do not situate their chapters within this contemporary cultural milieu, yet many hone in on historical, theoretical, demographic, and/or developmental aspects that relate to the respective chapter focus. Each chapter is extremely well written, which is not always the case with edited volumes. As such, this book would be beneficial for graduate students, researchers, and/or practitioners interested in current research specifically on college students. As the book comprises 29 chapters, we forgo providing an overview of each chapter, but instead, reflect on the focus of each section and a few select chapters. Chapter authors are listed parenthetically.
The stated aim of the reader is to achieve an “extensive, in-depth overview” (p. 2), which seems to be a contradicting task; however, the editors work toward this goal by grouping topics within four broad areas: student diversity, student equality, student life, and student development. Expert authors and careful topic selection ensure a thorough, [End Page 112] yet wide-ranging picture of students in higher education today, albeit the topics are not mutually exclusive – nor are they treated as such by the chapter authors. Further, the editors intentionally include marginalized and privileged student identities, perspectives, and research throughout the entire book, a rare and important approach when considering all college students.
Section 1, “Student Diversity,” focuses on African American (Ufumoa Abiola, Marybeth Gasman, Thai-Huy Nguyen, Andrés Castro Samayoa, & Felecia Commodore), Latina/o (Cristobal Salinas, Jr.), Native American (Robin Minthorn & Heather J. Shotton), Asian American (Samuel D. Museus & Varaxy Yi), Asian Indian (Sudha Wadhwani), Middle Eastern (Jose M. Maldonado & Britni V. Epstein), and international students (Chris R. Glass & Elizabeth J. Kociolek). A particular chapter of interest was the chapter on Native American students as the authors underscore the absence of literature on Native American students in the field. Minthorn and Shotton write from an informed personal perspective while also providing a view of existing research on Native American students. The authors argue that absence of scholarship perpetuates misunderstanding regarding how college affects Native American students, which further underscores their “invisibility” (p. 32). Readers benefit from the authors’ record of student experiences in college and recommendations for Native American student success.
The Student Equality section provides representation of the experiences of privileged and minoritized students (i.e., students “minoritized” by the system of higher education and society) who are treated with varying levels of attention. Chapter topics include women (Paige Haber-Curran & Chris Linder), men (Daniel Tillapaugh), students with disabilities (Karen A. Myers), Whiteness (Tina R. Paone, Krista M. Malott, & Brighid Dwyer), LGBTQIAA (Sue Rankin, Genevieve Weber, & Jason Garvey), first-generation students (William Arnold & Will Barratt), and privileged access (Dafina-Lazarus Stewart & Keenan Y. Colquitt, Jr.). Myers contributes valuable scholarship within this section by arguing for a new level of service for students with disabilities. As a person with disabilities, she utilizes her own journey to discuss student development through Gibson’s (2006) Model of Disability Identity Development. Myers argues that it is no longer enough to fight for equal access to student success; students with disabilities need to be viewed for their significant contributions to campus and society – not in spite of their disabilities, but because of them.
Section 3, “Student Life,” provides historical and current views of student experiences within the American educational landscape. Chapter topics include transfer students (Karen L. Archambault), the history of student life (Amy E. Wells Dolan & Sara...