Book by Joseph Cuseo, Viki Sox Fecas & Aaron Thompson
Review by Dorrie Unertl
College of Letters & Science
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
What does it mean to thrive? How is this different than surviving? Far from the passive experience of surviving, “thrive” comes from an Old Norse word meaning “to clutch, grasp [or] grip” (“Thrive,” n.d.). This word choice is particularly apt, as this is precisely what we want our students to do: to grasp onto the college experience and hold tightly to the opportunities it can bring. In their textbook, Cuseo, Fecas and Thompson explore multiple dimensions key to being both a successful student and a successful person. Topics range from the broad, such as critical thinking, to the very practical, such as study and test-taking skills. Rooted in research, their book convincingly reminds us of the frustrations, triumphs, and ultimately, the possibilities that lie in each student.
While students may theoretically know that college will be more demanding than high school, many enter college without a healthy understanding of what it means to be a successful college student. For example, we ask students to perform abstract concepts, like thinking critically or appreciating diversity, but how are these achieved? This textbook successfully creates a curriculum around these murky, complex ideas. This is its greatest triumph, in that it emphasizes mindfulness and intentionality in the pursuit of higher education (Cuseo, Fecas and Thompson, 2010).
This is foremost a textbook for student consumption, particularly in the context of a freshman seminar, first-year experience or academic success course. Unfortunately, it would have to be broken up to be useful to a non-teaching academic advisor. This is regrettable, as the whole is a formidable wealth of information and potential growth. Chapters are divided into easy-to-read segments appropriate for multiple learning modalities (text, charts/graphs, and discussion questions). Though integral to fully exploring each topic, the multiple sidebars can be visually overstimulating. Discussion questions and exercises accompanying each chapter could be particularly useful as advising assignments to create a dialogue about larger issues. For example, Chapter 4: Time Management includes an exercise using syllabi to map out future assignments and other time commitments. This self-assessment is followed by discussion questions an advisor could use to debrief with the student and discuss how their expectations meet (or do not meet) reality (Cuseo et. al., 2010).
Also potentially useful to advisors is the glossary of academic terms. We can forget that students, particularly younger or first-generation, may not know what academic probation is or why one would utilize a career development center. This glossary could spur those conversations, and be reproduced as a campus-specific handout.
When viewed as a whole, this great breadth of information encourages developmental advising simply by virtue of the topics covered. For example, advisors may find themselves inspired to discuss the virtues of a liberal arts education with their advisees. However, a struggle ensues between depth and the information-conveyance we often have to do as advisors. Topics like health or finances can be difficult to cover in a typical advising session. Advisors at small colleges or with small advising loads may be able to delve further into the depths of what this text has to offer.
Cuseo, J. B., Fecas, V. S., & Thompson, A. (2010). Thriving in college and beyond: Research-based strategies for academic success & personal development (2nd ed.). Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt.
Thrive. (n.d.). Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved May 28, 2012, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/thrive
Thriving in College and Beyond: Research-Based Strategies for Academic Success and Personal Development (second edition). (2010). Book by Joseph Cuseo, Viki Sox Fecas & Aaron Thompson. Review by Dorrie Unertle. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt, 404 pp. $54.95. ISBN # 978-0-7575-7279-1