Why I Wrote This Book [A Different Road to College: A Guide for Transitioning Non-traditional Students] – Alise Lamoreaux
Most textbooks available on the topic of college transition/success today focus on the traditional 18-year old student, and the needs of someone living away from home for the first time. The desire to create this textbook comes from years of experience helping GED and other non-traditional students transition to community college and beyond. For over a decade, I have taught a class designed to specifically help non-traditional students build the contextual knowledge of college systems to help them be able to advocate for themselves and navigate the world of college. I have witnessed the struggle and confusion on the part of students trying to understand the contextual aspects of college and develop the confidence needed to take the transitional step. The content of this textbook will not focus on the needs young adults living away from home for the first time. There will be no shopping list for dorm supplies.
The goal of the book is to help students understand how to select the right college for them and then become acquainted with the inner workings and language of college. The content will be infused with stories about students who have successfully made the transition to college and their advice.
Today’s classrooms are increasingly becoming more diverse by age, race, ethnicity, and life experience. While their preparation and pathway to college may have been non-traditional, they are all “students” once they have enrolled in college.
Preface to Foundations of Academic Success: Words of Wisdom – Thomas C. Priester
“Success doesn’t come to you…you go to it.” This quote by Dr. Marva Collins sets the stage for the journey you are about to take. Your success, however you choose to define it, is waiting for you, and Foundations of Academic Success: Words of Wisdom (FAS: WoW) is your guide to your success. Some may believe that success looks like a straight and narrow line that connects the dots between where you are and where you are going, but the truth is that success looks more like a hot mess of twists and turns, curves and bumps, and hurdles and alternate pathways.
Putting this textbook together was challenging because there is so much to tell you as you embark on your college journey. I have worked with college students on academic success at a number of college campuses, and have hunted for the most effective and most affordable college student academic success textbook but could never find everything I wanted to teach in one book. So, I figured the answer was to write my own textbook!
Like any good research project, the outcome was not exactly what I expected. In addition to a host of true-to-life stories written by real people who have successfully navigated the journey through college, the first draft of the textbook included everything (and more) that the other similarly themed textbooks about college student academic success do.
Once the first draft was finished, I decided to test-drive my new textbook with the students in my First Year Experience class to see what they thought. I figured, who better to give me feedback on the textbook than actual students who would use the textbook in class, right? I gave the first draft of the textbook (facts and figures and all) to my students to read, review, and reflect upon. It turned out that the pieces that my students learned the most from were the true-to-life stories. They either didn’t read or barely glanced over the facts and figures, but provided very positive feedback (and even remembered) the words of wisdom from real people who have successfully navigated the journey through college.
I guess it makes sense; students love when real-life stories are infused into the activities and lessons. Plus, as a number of students told me, the facts and figures on topics such as note-taking and how many hours to study per week can be found by searching online and can vary by person. What really mattered to students were the real-life words of wisdom that you can’t find online. Thus, Foundations of Academic Success: Words of Wisdom (FAS: WoW as I lovingly call it) emerged.
I share this story because my intended outcome (to be the author of the world’s best open access college student academic success textbook) was not exactly what I expected it to be. The same is true of your journey through college, and you’ll read more about that in the stories right here in FAS: WoW. You’ll find that this is not your typical college textbook full of concrete facts and figures, nor does it tell you how to succeed. No textbook can truly do that —success is defined differently for everyone. The stories in FAS: WoW are relevant, relational, and reflective. The authors welcome you into their lives and offer ideas that ignite helpful discussions that will help you succeed.
FAS: WoW introduces you to the various aspects of student and academic life on campus and prepares you to thrive as a successful college student (since there is a difference between a college student and a successful college student). Each section of FAS: WoW is framed by self-authored, true-to-life short stories from actual State University of New York (SUNY) students, employees, and alumni. You may even know some of the authors! The advice they share includes a variety of techniques to help you cope with the demands of college. The lessons learned are meant to enlarge your awareness of self with respect to your academic and personal goals and assist you to gain the necessary skills to succeed in college.
In the text, the authors tell stories about their own academic, personal, and life-career successes. When reading FAS: WoW, consider the following guiding questions:
- How do you demonstrate college readiness through the use of effective study skills and campus resources?
- How do you apply basic technological and information management skills for academic and lifelong career development?
- How do you demonstrate the use of critical and creative thinking skills to solve problems and draw conclusions?
- How do you demonstrate basic awareness of self in connection with academic and personal goals?
- How do you identify and demonstrate knowledge of the implications of choices related to wellness?
- How do you demonstrate basic knowledge of cultural diversity?
After you read each story, take the time to reflect on the lessons learned from your reading and answer the guiding questions as they will help you to connect the dots between being a college student and being a successful college student. Note your areas of strength and your areas of weakness, and develop a plan to turn your weaknesses into strengths.
I could go on and on (and on) about college student academic success, but what fun is the journey if I tell you everything now? You need to learn some stuff on your own, right? So, I will leave you to read and enjoy FAS: WoW with a list of tips that I share with college students as they embark on their journey to academic success:
- Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable!
- Get the book(s) and read the book(s).
- Take notes in class and when reading for class.
- Know your professors (email, office location, office hours, preferred gender pronouns, etc.) and be familiar with what is in the course syllabus.
- Put your phone away in class.
- Emails need a salutation, a body, and a close.
- Don’t write the way you might text—using abbreviations and clipped sentences.
- Never academically advise yourself!
- Apply for scholarships…all of them!
- Speak it into existence and keep your eyes on the prize.
Enjoy the ride! Cheers,
Dr. Thomas C. Priester, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Dillon, Curator, co-author, and editor of Blueprint for Success in College and Career
As an adjunct counselor and instructor between 2004 and 2007, I began teaching counseling and personal development courses at multiple community colleges. Some campuses assigned textbooks for some courses and others gave the freedom to choose from a variety of texts. As my materials grew, the actual textbooks, an assortment of copies of assignments, handouts, class activities and exams for many different courses became challenging to transport and keep organized for preparation and teaching. I distinctly remember frantically sifting through a rolling suitcase bag (which my colleagues teased me about) trying to find the handout I wanted to use for the third campus I was at on that particular day. I told myself that when and if I became a full-time counselor, I would write my own textbook so that all of the material would be in one place.
Hired as a full-time counselor and instructor at Grossmont College in 2007, I decided to start writing my own textbook for a Study Skills and Time Management course instead of continuing to carry around so many different materials. I began writing in 2009 and some of the ideas from that first effort helped shaped this project.
This book was also written because there is a need for it. Many students do not learn how to study effectively and efficiently or how to manage their time. Others aren’t certain what to choose for their major or their career. And some are lost trying to navigate through the maze and culture of college, often balancing their school workload while working and taking care of family responsibilities. Students are sometimes unsuccessful when they begin college—not for lack of motivation or hard work, but because they did not acquire the skills or information necessary to allow them to succeed.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “the overall 6-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began seeking a bachelor’s degree at 4-year degree-granting institutions in fall 2012 was 62 percent. That is, by 2018, 62 percent of first-time, full-time students who had began seeking a bachelor’s degree at 4-year institution in fall 2012 completed the degree at that institution within 6 years.”
There are multiple reasons for these statistics, but there is clearly great opportunity for improvement, and I believe learning and utilizing better study skills and time management skills will yield higher graduation and retention rates for students. Research has proven students who complete a study skills course remain in higher education longer with higher grade point averages and more success than students who did not complete the course. 
Despite my interest in keeping the cost of the original textbook low, I found that the cost was still prohibitive for many students and as I began to research textbook affordability solutions, I found OER (Open Educational Resources). I made a decision to publish this book as an OER, as well as the second edition of Blueprint for Success: Indispensable Study Skills and Time Management Strategies, and the first edition of Blueprint for Success: Career Decision Making. As one of my colleagues said, “You have gone all in with OER.” There are many reasons for why this book is an Open Educational Resource, including but not limited to textbook affordability, access, empathy, openness, inclusion, diversity, and equity. I want students to be able to have access to the textbook on day one and after the course ends, not have to choose between buying food and purchasing the text, and not have to worry about a lost, stolen, or expired digital access code. This Santa Ana College student panel from the Open Education Conference 2017 exemplifies why this text is an OER:
Video: Santa Ana College OER Student Panel OpenEd 2017
I also found a wonderful community of supporters of Open Education and Open Educational Resources along with existing high quality, peer reviewed College Success OER. I researched and identified content from multiple sources, chose what information best fit my project, and then “reused, revised, remixed, and redistributed” with a Creative Commons by attribution license so that future users can freely retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute.
It has been my desire to deliver an easy-to-read, simple-to-understand instruction manual for study skills, time management, and career exploration, full of real-life examples.
This textbook is not designed to preach to you what you should or shouldn’t do with your life, your time, or your study skills. It is not meant to judge you. It is, however, designed to allow you the opportunity to examine and explore how you do certain things, and offer suggestions along the way that have helped other students.
My general philosophy is that if you are doing something that works well for you, then continue doing it. But if your results are less than optimal, or if you want to try something new, this book gives you suggestions. Experiment. Try some of them out. Keep what works best. Toss out what doesn’t work. See what fits best for you. We are all works in progress.
This is a book that I wish I had when I was a college student. Through trial and error, I found some strategies that suited me, and many that did not. I improved my time management, but it was a long process marked by learning from failure rather than following a recipe for success. The same could be said for selecting my major.
The first edition of the Blueprint for Success: Indispensable Study Skills and Time Management Strategies text elicited this response from one of my students: “The book really helped me. It was supportive of the assignments and was extremely easy to understand and follow. It truly served as a blueprint. It was almost like a map or instruction manual for being successful in your course. The best part was it can be used and applied to any college level class.” Since that publication, I have further developed theories and strategies specifically designed to help college students be successful, and I am excited about sharing them, and combining them with the expertise and content from other open licensed works.
It is my sincere hope that this book will help guide you to success in college and beyond.
Licenses and Attributions:
CC licensed content, Previously shared:
A Different Road To College: A Guide For Transitioning To College For Non-traditional Students. Authored by: Alise Lamoreaux. Located at: https://openoregon.pressbooks.pub/collegetransition/front-matter/introduction/ License: CC BY: Attribution.
Foundations of Academic Success: Words of Wisdom. Edited by Thomas Priester. Located at: https://milnepublishing.geneseo.edu/foundations-of-academic-success/front-matter/preface/ License: CC BY: Attribution.
Original content authored by Dave Dillon. License: CC BY: Attribution.
Content previously copyrighted, published in Blueprint for Success in College: Indispensable Study Skills and Time Management Strategies (by Dave Dillon). Located at: https://press.rebus.community/blueprint1/ Now licensed as CC BY: Attribution.
Video: Santa Ana College OER Student Panel OpenEd 2017. Located at: https://youtu.be/vtPm3zsSfWo License: CC BY: Attribution.
Version History: Updated statistics and minor cultural responsive edits: July, 2021.