Book Reviews

Book by: Chad Hanson
Review by: LeighMarie Weber
New York University


Although Multicultural Affairs is a relatively new concept across many higher education systems today, the idea of student exploration and identity development is not. College has always been a time for students to reevaluate themselves, meet new people, develop new perspectives and build relationships that will impact their future lives. The book, In Search of Self: Exploring Student Identity Development was recently published with a compilation of various editors who suggest the process that many students experience in order to discover their true identities.  

Chad Hanson, the editor, collects various perspectives on the ways college impacts the overall mentality of a student. Articles include methods and studies from various professionals involved in the higher education environment. The findings are essential to these professionals as they help contribute to a “better understanding of the long- ranging effects of becoming a college graduate” (p. 2).

Research presented by authors Dan McAdams and Jennifer Guo in chapter two, conduct interviews with students that allow them to reflect upon how they spend their time in college. Their intention is to help students develop meaning to their experiences and create a story that they would be proud to share with others. The authors present the students with a set of tools that will provide them with a framework in order to implement conversations with others that revolve around purpose and their roles as students. In addition, they remind these students the importance of authenticity and how it is essential to express themselves the way they want to be perceived by others. The authors also discuss the importance of virtue and how to live a good life as well as the importance of vocation and why students should learn to make a difference during their college years.

Perhaps the most prominent study with a group of students stemmed from chapter nine as authors David Blumenkrantz and Marc Goldstien discussed the idea that those who attend and later graduate from a postsecondary institution experience a “rite of passage”. The authors in this chapter present a series of questions that are a reflection of how young individuals view their “rites of passage”. Many students view college as a place of initiation and a place to find themselves. However, the issue is that many higher education systems leave it up to the student to understand their college experience, their own development, and put the pieces together. The authors suggest that some students need a bit more guidance than to try and figure it out for themselves. Additionally, college is a place where diversity is seen for the first time and some students do not know how to interact with others who do not share the same cultures and experiences at them, which in turn can hinder their overall experience claiming their “rite of passage” to be a true adult.

This book provides an abundance of useful information for higher education professionals. Each chapter is broken down into concise sections that further allow the readers to understand the context of this book, especially those who are not higher education professionals. One particular flaw of this book is that some of the sample sizes were small, which is indicative of less comprehensive results. 

Student Identity can be a complex aspect especially since each student has a different college experience and, furthermore, is entering college with different backgrounds and resources. This book serves as an excellent resource to help Higher Ed professionals have a better understanding students’ experiences.


In Search of Self: Exploring Student Identity Development. (2014) Book by (Eds) Chad Hanson. Review by LeighMarie Weber, Wiley. 120pp. $22.61, (Paperback) ISBN # 9781118915080

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