Book Reviews

Book By: Marcia Y Cantarella, PhD
Review By: Kristin M Mauro, PhD
Academic Advisor, Construction Engineering
Iowa State University


This book is a must read for anyone (parents, college-bound students, and academic advisors) who has a vested interest in someone’s college success.  Drawing on her experience as a dean and vice president of student affairs, Dr. Cantarella uses humor, wit, and vignettes to educate the reader on how to effectively overcome any obstacle by using the vast resources provided by their institution, while at the same time making as many connections as possible.  The book covers topics such as financing your education, the importance of becoming resilient in the face of adversity, appropriate academic behaviors for success, and skills needed for success after college.  It’s written in a format in which it can be read all at once or chapter by chapter as needed.  To gain the most from this book, read it entirely then access specific chapters as needed.

Dr. Cantarella’s ability to clearly articulate the operational structure of higher education, while at the same time explaining how each role within the institution works collaboratively with one another to create the most meaningful student experience was impressive.  This does not mean that the onus of a student’s individual academic success and graduation is solely the responsibility of the institution.  Quite the contrary, the onus is on the student to make the most of their college experience by asking the right questions when they do not know. Creating and using their “network of people” (pg. 101) when they experience a crisis, and realizing that their number one priority is to develop the basic skills necessary to be competitive in today’s fast-paced, ever changing society. 

Three main themes emerged from this book and are important to note in this review.  The first was that with creativity and persistence you can finish college.  By focusing your talents in the best places, you can achieve your dreams and whatever you do, don’t quit, change your approach and use your network.  The second, college is the most forgiving environment you will ever encounter.  It is also the last time to engage in purely intellectual play.  It is a time to enjoy and embrace where you are, learn to use technology as a tool to help you, and truly understand that progress, not perfection is your ultimate goal.  The third theme served as a reminder that what you learn and are exposed to while in college will benefit you in your life and work, even if you do not understand it at the time (pg.72). 

Academic advisors will benefit from this resource in many ways.  From developing a solid understanding of how scary college can be for those who are unfamiliar with its rules, regulations, and processes, to reminding academic advisors that they are there to assist in the transition.  Students aren’t expected to know all of the answers, but in time, they will.  Academic advisors are the main source of support and as such, assist students in widening their contacts and support team while helping them help others along the way. College is a time to separate from families as an individual.  Parents are reminded to hold onto their children with open hands because everything their child accomplishes in college should push their future forward.  It is the job of many to support them in this journey.  Academic advisors educate students that affiliations can make or break you, so choose wisely (pg.115).   


I Can Finish College. (2012). Book by Marcia Y Cantarella. Review by Kristin M. Mauro. SourcebooksEDU. 288pp., $12.99, (Paperback), ISBN #978-1-4022-7275-2

      

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