Book Reviews

Book by: Donald J. Foss
Review By: Dana R. Barnes
Academic Advisor, School of Public Affairs
University of South Florida


Transitioning from high school to college is not always an easy process for students because they are trying to adjust to the rigors of college life. The transition process involves students being confident in themselves and being concerned about meeting new people, such as their academic advisors, classmates, and instructors. Thinking about career interests and deciding on a major are essential to students’ future success. Making decisions that can result in positive or negative consequences are of critical importance for students to progress towards graduation. Your Complete Guide to College Success: How to Study Smart, Achieve Your Goals, and Enjoy Campus Life by Donald Foss, is an effective and informative guide that provides students with a roadmap for success in college and beyond.

Your Complete Guide to College Success is broken down into seven succinct parts. In sections one through three, Foss does an amazing job of describing students’ reflections about starting college, how they should manage their time effectively, and engage in goal-oriented active learning. How students should manage both their attitudes about college and social interactions is also discussed. As an academic advisor, the weakness of this book is that there is a limited focus on how academic advisors could contribute to the success of students.  

Parts four and five address the importance of students learning how to navigate campus resources and receiving the assistance they need, such as receiving academic advising on how to select the appropriate courses and becoming familiar with the organization and culture of the university they attend. Foss provides useful tips on how to conquer challenging courses, such as mathematics and writing.

In sections six and seven, Foss discusses the challenges dorm residents and commuter students encounter. Dorm residents have to adjust to living in a residence hall with diverse students. He explains how commuter students have different challenges, such as working out arrangements with their families, if they continue to live at home, and having a “study headquarters” and a “social headquarters”. Foss gives beneficial advice on how to achieve social, financial, and physical success. He explains the importance of students being involved in campus organizations, developing budgets to help them manage their income efficiently, and how exercising regularly helps students stimulate energy and mental alertness. The author also points out roadblocks to success, which are abusing alcohol, drugs, mental health problems, and behavior problems.

I highly recommend this book for students entering college for the first time, faculty, and academic advisors. The content of the book is targeted for students, but it is an informative guide that instructors can use as a textbook for their First Year Experience courses. The author has provided many tools for student success. Some of those tools are study strategies, how to construct goals and achieve them, how to develop a time map and create a master calendar of all class assignments, tests, research papers, and non-academic activities, and how to conquer challenging courses. Overall, Your Complete Guide to College Success is a helpful book for academic advisors, advisees, instructors, and colleagues.



Your Complete Guide to College Success: How to Study Smart, Achieve Your Goals, and Enjoy Campus Life. (2013). Book by Donald J. Foss. Review by Dana R. Barnes, American Psychological Association. 295 pp. $29.95. (Paperback), ISBN #978-1-4338-1296-5


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