Book Reviews

Book by Santrock, John W. and Halonen, Jane S.
Review by Kerrie M. Rueda
Coordinator of Study Abroad, Office of International Studies
Florida International University, Miami


Providing useful tools for students and those assisting them through the first year of college is the focus of Your Guide to Student Success.  This combination text/workbook addresses the main issues faced by students entering their first year of college in a format that will appeal to students, instructors and advisors alike.

This text is divided into easily digested chapters that cover several areas critical to establishing foundations for success. Unlike other such texts Santrock and Halonen begin by guiding students through the frequently overlooked process of identifying their values and goals before providing them with a wealth of resources in areas that include time management, study skills, communication and relationships, health and wellness, and managing finances.  The process of identifying personal values and goals is then woven throughout the remainder of the text.  Each chapter builds upon the previous one as students are reminded to consider their values and goals when making choices.  This element is refreshing in a text that could otherwise be impersonal.  

What further sets this book apart as a valuable resource is its format for delivering the information in formulaic chapters that each follows a pattern. The authors begin each chapter with a self-evaluation called “Where are You?” that allows students to understand their aptitudes with regard to the chapter topic. They then provide real life stories of well-known public figures in order to place the topic in a context that allows the student to relate on a personal level.  

Within each chapter, myriad tools are provided to assist the student in understanding the material and putting it into practice.  “On Target Tips,” “Staying out of the Pits,” and “Take Charge” boxes appear throughout the book to offer strategies, suggestions for avoiding problems, and ideas for implementing aspects of the concept discussed.  “Learning Portfolios” end each chapter by offering self-assessment worksheets and journal exercises that ask the student to reflect, think critically, create and act on the topic.

The authors address each student as an individual rather than preaching to a group.  They have taken great pains to approach each topic so that every student will find something that resonates e.g., not only do authors explain different learning styles, they do so by inserting diagrams that appeal to visual learners.  Inspirational quotes from authors, sports figures, educators and other notable figures from history are scattered throughout the book; the variety of individuals quoted broadens the book’s appeal.

Instructors of First Year Experience courses should strongly consider using this text in their classes.  Students will find the text easy to understand and practical as they move through their first year and beyond.  Although this book’s primary audience is First Year Experience courses, Santrock and Halonen have created a tool that easily can be adapted for use by academic advisors.  Any academic advisor would benefit from adding this book to their personal library as it provides the advisor with useful tools to supplement advising sessions and workshops.  Although I am not currently in advising, I look forward to incorporating ideas from this text in my approach to teaching the First Year Experience class, as well as throughout my career as an advisor.


Your Guide to College Success: Strategies for Achieving Your Goals (Instructor’s Guide). (2007). Book by Santrock, John W. and Halonen, Jane S. Review by Kerrie M. Rueda. Boston: Thomson Wadsworth, 320 pp. Price $38.95. ISBN # 1-4130-2073-9
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