Book Reviews

Book by: Robert Shoenberg
Review by: Lucinda Blue
Academic Center of Excellence/Biddle Institute
Johnson C. Smith University


Preparing for college takes more than packing and having a high-school diploma in hand. Shoenberg’s book is a quick read for high-school students, high-school teachers, guidance counselors, and parents. It gets a “thumbs up”! In What Will I Learn in College: What You Need to Know Now to Get Ready for College Success, Shoenberg indicates that one must possess five (5) important skills to bring to college; they are: 1) The ability to write clearly; 2) The ability to read thoughtfully; 3) The ability to ask good questions; 4) The ability to reason logically; and 5) The ability to evaluate opinions and support arguments with evidence (back cover).

Shoenberg cleverly explains the skills that one shall acquire through school years before college. He uses testimonies from college students to justify the points about college preparation. These college students emphasize how their high-school classes contributed to college readiness. One student states that college is about applied learning, which means that material is studied in more depth than merely memorizing the “five Ws” but understanding the concepts. Another student talks about communication skills and how this competency is critical to college success and during a career. Communication goes further than verbal presentations, written assignments, and expressive skills and realism, but it relates directly to analytical thinking and dealing responsibly with unstructured problems. The good news is that these skills are practiced through course applications, co-curricular activities, internships, and other real-world settings.  Lastly, a third student summarizes skills learned in community involvement and leadership exposure, which will become helpful skills noted on resumes.

In addition, Shoenberg interviewed college professors to learn what they have observed about incoming students’ academic competency levels. They reported that students lack writing and reading proficiencies. They also stated that students should be effective analytical readers to comprehend information, ask logical and intellectual questions, and engage in active and in-depth discussions. They also concluded that consistent reading and writing enrich communication skills and consistent practice with different course concepts help to heighten overall knowledge. By reading this book, one will understand that liberal education, which is also called “general education”, helps re-emphasize broad knowledge and strengthens skillsets and capabilities that were supposedly learned before college. Consequently, after these studies, a major is declared, and one can then concentrate on core courses that relate directly toward career goals.

Shoenberg outlines each chapter to highlight the importance of the college experience. He helps the reader to understand that college is more than academics, but it shapes students into more responsible and reflective individuals. Through commitment, a college education gets one to appreciate the total environment in which to learn about global matters.  Learning foreign languages and understanding different cultures prepare one to connect globally, diversely, and intellectually.

The contents of the book clearly explain that college experience inside and outside the classroom is the journey that one should take to prepare for career planning.  In conclusion, I highly recommend this book as an informative read. As Shoenberg suggests in the book, there are nine questions about college readiness. Depending on the responses, high-school students should discern how they are preparing or have prepared for college and seek additional guidance in subject areas to bridge the gap from high school to college. Hopefully, this book shows that college readiness is workable and achievable for a successful career and life fulfillment.

What Will I Learn In College?. (2008). Book by Robert Shoenberg. Review by Lucinda Blue. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities. 29 pp., $12.00, (Paperback). ISBN 978-0-9796181-5-4

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