Book Review: Dean’s List – 11 Habits of Highly Successful College Students
Author: John B. Bader
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press – 269 pages
Book Review by: Paiso Jamakar
This book was many years in the making, as the author John B. Bader states in his
Acknowledgements. Some 40 people contributed to in the form of essays on various
subjects based on their knowledge and experience in the academic world. They are deans,
assistant deans and directors of various departments in numerous colleges, universities
and other institutions.
After the Introduction, Bader presents to you each of the 11 habits in a chapter containing
two to five essays. But in the Introduction itself, he gives you a few practical tips now
that you’re a college freshman. And guess what (surprise!): he presents to you a mini
version of the 11 habits then, with teasers – about a paragraph-long mini-explanation of
each of them.
The observations under the “Going to College” heading may surprise, amuse and
probably even scare you. But Bader gives you tips on how to cope with each one of them.
For example, as a freshman, you begin to realize that there are no teachers in college!
The professors are not there to make sure you learn your material. No, the material is
presented to you and it is up to you to learn it by yourself alone in the best way you
know how. But that does not mean you cannot ask your classmates, tutors and teaching
assistants to help you put you on the right track to learning.
Secondly, you realize that the professors do not know you and do not care to know you
well. This is radically different from your high school teachers, who likely came to know
you more each day they saw you and after some time, knew you quite well.
But don’t despair, the author writes. There are ways to get your professor to help you
learn your material, so that you benefit more from your courses.
Bader points out other observations freshman make that surprise them. They used to take
their parents for granted in high school. When you get to college, you realize you miss
them but your parents are no longer around to give you advice and encouragement.
They’re not there to make sure for example, that you eat an adequate amount of the right
food and get enough sleep.
Yes, you now have the freedom to spend as little (or as much) time on your homework
with you parents not nagging you, but now it’s your own responsibility to take care of
what your body needs, lest you fall apart physically.
One of the other surprises you get when you enter college, as Bader points out,
is that college is a big place. It is easy to lose your way, not only physically, but
also emotionally, what with several campuses, professional schools (e.g. for law or
medicine), research centers, dorms and what have you. In other words all of this can be
overwhelming for you.
Following these surprising freshmen observations is the meat of the book itself – the 11
habits of success for college students. I am simply enumerating for you here what those
1. Focus on Learning, Not on Grades
2. Build an Adult Relationship with Your Parents
3. Work the System By Understanding the System
4. Approach the Curriculum Like It Were a Great Feast
5. Understand that Majors and Careers are Not the Same Thing
6. Don’t just Work Hard – Work Smart
7. Build Integrity to Get into Professional or Graduate School
8. Learn from Diversity at Home and Abroad
9. When You Are Failing, Understand Why
10. Cope with Failure By Rebuilding and Coping
11. Plan boldly for Life after College
To get the details on how exactly to put these suggestions into action for yourself and to
achieve success in college (and it is not as easy to be successful as simply knowing the
habits) there is nothing better I need to say to you other than just: Get the book!