Book Reviews

Book by Robert Shoenberg
Review by Dina Abdul Rahman
Coordinator of Academic Advising
Lebanese American University
Beirut, Lebanon


What Will I Learn in College? is a book intended to help high school students gain a concrete idea about college life, its challenges, and outcomes. It also is a useful guidebook for freshmen in need of assistance in transitioning to college. This book contains practical, realistic information that will put students on the right track.

Shoenberg focuses on the ways in which students are expected to learn in college (p.1), implying that readers will discover a secret formula that will maximize students’ learning experiences and shape them into well-rounded, educated, cultured individuals. As much as this book guides students, it is also useful for academic advisors who work with matriculating students. The author provides a list of issues readers can discuss with their advisors and thus help advisors craft conversations that will fit each student’s needs.

Although the book is slim (which may be why students will be interested in reading it!), it covers a variety of issues within college life. It starts with the main differences between high school and college and suggests successful transition strategies. Then the author addresses the main outcomes of college education so that students can contemplate the uses of Liberal education. The later will help students develop three skills that all employers seek within their employees: “communicate effectively, think analytically, and deal responsibly with unstructured problems” (p.9). Shoenberg puts his finger on the biggest challenge students face in college: decision making. He notes that students will make many decisions during college and that despite mistakes, persevering students will eventually acquire the skill.

Shoenberg notes that students can go into college well prepared if they train themselves during high school through “challenging courses and extracurricular activities” (p.17). Confidence, knowledge, and social skills are important to college success. Shoenberg shows how students can grow in college and apply the lessons learned there to the real world.

The author is persuasive as he delivers his message and encourages students to apply the outlined tips. In several chapters a column entitled “Advice from Campus” is included where different campus constituents (faculty, students) contribute their personal experiences and the lessons they have learned in the form of short articles. The author also highlights a number of insightful ideas with quotes from professionals, employers, and students.

Overall this book is easy, simple, straight-forward, and most importantly realistic regarding what students should expect in college. Although some chapters are too short, readers will appreciate how to-the-point and concise it is. Listings of important issues are included all through the book summarizing many different concepts e.g.,” Five important skills to bring to college”. This book is so diversified and colorful that it will motivate students to embrace college life.

Many students go to college for the wrong reasons. This book puts into perspective the learning outcomes for the college experience. It helps students perceive this new world within its context; it will help students adjust their expectations and clarify their obligations towards such a commitment. It is a reference not just for students but for advisors as well who can use it to walk students through the educational and evolutionary journey they have embarked on!


What will I learn in college? What you need to know now to get ready for college success. (2008). Book by Robert Shoenberg. Review by Dina Abdul Rahman. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities. 36 pp. $20.00 ISBN # 978-0-9796181-5-4
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