Back To School Reading List


The best thing about going back to school? Getting an education? Pfft, don’t be ridiculous! Oh no, no, no; it’s Amazon Student (aka Amazon Prime) for 6 months then half-off Prime for up to 4 years just by having an .edu email address. Awesome. I love Prime but I don’t buy enough on Amazon to justify it on its own. I have always just done the free trials and worked them hard during that time to see if it is worth it in the long run. So far, no. But for free or nearly free? Sure! Given the recent hard line they are taking with Hatchette and now Disney, however, I am seriously questioning supporting Amazon in the future. For now I will just accept what is until I can make up my mind which direction to go.

Now my first newly minted Prime purchases? Books about going back to school. More than anything I wanted to make sure I remembered how to study smart. I never had terrible study skills, I just never really used them to the best of my ability. Lazy, scared and anxiety-ridden I guess.

And since I will be doing a whole lot of school reading in the next few years I decided to clean up my fiction reading list a bit before the quarter begins on Sept 2. But those books and that post are for another day. If you are curious about what I am reading I suggest you check out my Goodreads feed (its on the sidebar). I have been making decent attempts at keeping it updated this year since I wanted to actually track what I am reading. I will never guarantee it is up to date perfectly but honestly its not too far off the mark more or less.

Anyhow, back to college books. While searching I noticed that the majority of college directed books are old and out dated or filled with bad advice. Seriously, the selection is terrible. And the majority of books directed to going to college usually focus on teens. Fantastic I suppose but there are a lot of non-traditional students out there. I am certainly not unusual in that regard. So here I relied on reviews. And even with reviews these books are about 6 or 7 years old. Perhaps blogging has affected this chunk of the dead tree market as well.

The Adult Student’s Guide to Survival & Success by Al Siebert & Mary Karr

Lovely read. This was much more about getting in the right frame of mind for college as well as practical tips on what to do with yourself once there. Very concise and to the point, an easy read. I wouldn’t pay full price for it though IMO.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Going Back to College by Dolores Mize

Basically a longer, wordier version of the one above. It takes about 100 pages just for the chapters on deciding to go to college and choosing a college; something the former book did in only about 25 pages or so with more information. Sometimes less is more.

However, I do prefer this one over the former for anyone who has no college under their belt. Very simple things are explained like what credit hours are, etc. Redundant for me but insanely usefully for those not in the know and none of which are explained very well in the first book.

I do not like the stereotyping the author paints older and younger students with. She definitely creates an us vs them mentality. And she automatically assumes that an older student wouldn’t be “with the times”. Heck, this post was written on an iPad with a photo taken on an iPhone that was refined using 2 different apps! I think I got this, as would a healthy chunk of other non-traditional students.

Further this book has zero information about actually being in college. It only covers how to manage it, not how to study, etc. for that you need…

How to Become a Straight-A Student: The Unconventional Strategies Real College Students Use to Score High While Studying Less by Cal Newport

This book is amazing. Now I know why it gets such great reviews. Full of strategies for getting As. Easy to follow and easy to explain. I did most of these tips when I studied once upon a time but even I learned some new tricks. I recommend this one for any college student, not just adult students.

Interestingly his suggestions on how to write a paper are exactly how I write blog posts!

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr & EB White

As much of a classic as this book is you would have thought I already owned it but that would not be the case. Matter of fact I never even read it until now. A classic reference book with the do’s and don’t’s of writing well. Something everyone should have in their library. And it’s only 90 pages, the perfect pocket book or stocking stuffer.