Book By: Amy Baldwin
Review By: Barbara A. Miller
Student Advising Center
Kent State University
The Community College Experience serves as a foundational tool for helping community college students navigate their academic environments. Although many of the subjects and information covered in the text can easily be adapted for freshman orientation courses at four-year institutions, it is keenly suited to the unique needs and attributes of the community college student. The chapters cover a wide variety of issues from study strategies to adjustment issues.
Chapter one, “Who Are You and What Do You Know?” helps students define themselves within the context of their community college as well as goal setting. One of the unique aspects of this chapter is that it directs students to the institution’s mission statement to discern what the school values. In doing so, students may find guideposts to help them define and develop their personal values. This chapter also includes information concerning learning styles. It spotlights Multiple Intelligences, Myers Briggs, and Visual, Auditory, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic (VARK). An appendix includes a VARK questionnaire for student completion. However, it is devoid of adequate information to help students interpret or apply the results.
Community college culture and student attitudes are discussed most succinctly in chapter two, “Understanding College Culture and Your Campus.” These themes are revisited throughout the text in discussions dedicated to academic integrity and classroom etiquette. These subjects, generally speaking, are usually not covered in college survival handbooks. Instruction regarding the importance of treating faculty with respect and what constitutes acceptable behavior may seem, at first blush, somewhat misplaced. But, given the wide variety of student backgrounds within the community college, proper behavior within a classroom is a subject many community college students never have addressed.
Chapter five, “Forging Relationships,” offers a relatively broad perspective on diversity. While higher education tends to focus on race, gender, religion and sexual orientation, the author invites students to consider diversity in terms of socio-economic status, educational background, and home environments. This reframing of diversity is in keeping with the community college culture as they historically draw a large percentage of students that may be considered non traditional or underrepresented at four-year institutions.
The final chapters, “Setting New Educational and Financial Goals” and “Preparing for Life After Community College” give useful guidelines that will help students transition to the next phase whether that be entering the world of work or continuing their education. Although the chapter mentions the resources most likely available at their current institutions, national and online references would have been a nice addition.
Appendix B discusses on-line courses. Given that students should be computer literate and good at managing their time, assessing readiness and the utility of on-line coursework is very important. This appendix outlines what students should know prior to registering for web courses and provides some tips for being successful. It does not, however, provide an assessment or any resources that can help students make the decision to enroll in distance and on-line learning.
Although this handbook provides solid information and strategies for success, it does not provide many resources or worksheets where students will be able to access concrete information or apply the techniques to their individual needs. I do recommend this book for community college professionals teaching an orientation or academic success course. It may need to be supplemented with other resources, but it will provide a solid framework for helping community college students identify and develop the skills they need to be successful.
The Community College Experience. (2005). Book by Baldwin, Amy. Review by Barbara Miller. Columbus, OH: Prentice Hall. 240 pp, Price: $26.67. ISBN # 0-13-117297-2