Book Reviews

Book by Donald C. Martin
Reviewed by: Juliann Abercrombie
Transitional Advising Center
University of South Florida


As a seasoned professional in higher education admissions, Dr. Donald C. Martin imparts his knowledge and experience in the admissions process through his book, Road map for graduate study: A guide for prospective graduate students. For today’s undergraduate student, the prospect of graduation can bring about fears of an uncertain future. During this time, we as advisors want to present the student with a concrete approach to further education. Martin’s guide provides this in succinct, digestible steps that span the before, during, and after process of applying to graduate school. 

Dr. Martin’s book stands out in its ability to thoroughly cover the complex process of considering and applying to graduate school.  His use of real life examples from the perspective of an admissions professional allows the reader to trust his advice and be calmed in the process.  The practical tools he provides such as checklists and “do this, not that” tips are extremely useful in an application process that is much more involved than the undergraduate application process.

He gives students solid guidelines for what to look for in a program, and warns against placing too much emphasis on things like rankings. Though these can be helpful, he challenges the student to consider who awards the rankings and what they may be trying to highlight. Martin states: “Remember: rankings and your success in and after graduate school are two different things” (p. 24). His advice reminds students that that they are in the driver’s seat, and inevitably, it will be what they bring to the table that will determine their success. 

There is only one other piece missing from Martin’s Guide and that would be elaborating on paying for graduate school.  He mentions the prospective student’s options, but does not go into much detail.  Perhaps this is not his area of expertise, but understanding the ways in which one can pay for his or her education can make the difference between choosing one program over another.

Though this is a book written for a student audience, advisors could find it to be helpful in their own practices. The checklists are a practical and digestible tool to hand out to undergraduates when they come in seeking guidance. These lists can also serve as a guide for an advisor’s own timeline, as they emphasize the importance of starting a student’s search early and encourage their advisees to start thinking about the possibility of graduate school as early as their second of third year of undergraduate schooling.  Martin emphasizes an early start for this search process, which advisors can adjust to their students’ personal time frames.  Advisors will benefit from hearing Martin’s insider tips on the admissions process, as well as be able to use his timeline to alert students of important checkpoints during their search. 

Road map directs our advisees through the many options they face when considering graduate school and provides a good foundational understanding for the graduate admissions process.  Advisors will benefit from gaining an understanding for the timeline, tips, and etiquette of applying for graduate school.  Dr. Martin’s book would be a helpful addition to any advisor’s lending library.


Road map for graduate study: A guide for prospective graduate students. (2008).  Book by Donald C. Martin, Review by Juliann Abercrombie. Chicago: Atlas Books. 100 pp., $14.95,  ISBN # 978-0-9815432-0-8
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