Book By: Gardner, John N., and Van der Veer, Gretchen, and Associates
Review By: Lisa Schmidt
College of Engineering Williams Student Services Center
The University of Oklahoma, Norman
Educators supportive of John Gardner’s First Year Experience initiatives will recognize and appreciate the interest in successful transitions, and how advisors, faculty, student affairs professionals and others can contribute to the “second major transition” in the lives of college and university students. The Senior Year Experience serves as a “bookend” to the first year experience classic Your College Experience: Strategies for Success and draws on the same technique to invite contributions from scholars and authors, representing a broad spectrum of institutions, to craft a valuable collection of best practices and sample programs. The range of opportunities introduced for collaboration with faculty, alumni affairs, development offices, and others is especially timely for those of us seeking new and innovative on-campus partnerships. The unique challenges associated with these initiatives are effectively explored in a way that will inspire academic advisors to consider the roles they currently play in their students’ concluding year and how those roles can be strengthened to benefit students. Most of us would agree that a student’s first year of college is a significant life experience, but how many of us have given as much consideration to how we can help students prepare for their next major transition: student to employee, citizen, college graduate and lifelong learner?
One of the challenges addressed in the text is that senior year experiences often are more strongly connected to specific majors or academic programs as compared to a more generalized freshman year experience. As more institutions implement capstone experiences -- courses that encourage students to synthesize the whole of their academic coursework and experience -- advisors will play an increasingly important role in helping students reflect on the entirety of their educational experiences not just the purely academic component. One strength of this work is how it encourages educators, including academic advisors, to consider a wide range of opportunities that will help students reflect on their preparation for life after graduation. These can range from panel discussions to workshops; graduation “fairs” to presentations from development officers and financial planners. The potential for exploring ways to help students experience a more meaningful senior year is not limited to the design and implementation of yet another course.
The Senior Year Experience is a valuable resource for advisors interested in a thoughtful look at what can help graduating seniors better prepare for life after college. This book can help guide advisor questions regarding seniors’ concerns about graduating. The Senior Year Experience can be your roadmap to helping seniors prepare for leadership roles in their communities as educated citizens regardless of their major or career ambitions.
Gardner, J.N. and Jewler, A. J. (2003). Your College Experience: Strategies for Success. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
The Senior Year Experience: Facilitating Integration, Reflection, Closure, and Transition. (1997). Book by Gardner, John N., and Van der Veer, Gretchen, and Associates. Review by Lisa Schmidt. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 378 pp. Price $44.00 (Hardcover). ISBN #0787909270