Posts filed under ‘book review’

Book Review: The Early Admissions Game

Early Decision programs clearly benefit the colleges. But how can a student leverage Early Decision (ED) to his benefit?


Continue Reading September 9, 2009 at 11:23 am Leave a comment

Book Review: Early thinking about grad school

My son wants to major in some aspect of science.  There’s a good chance that he’ll end up wanting and/or needing to go to grad school.  I earned an MBA, but that’s sort of a different animal, so I feel inadequate advising him about grad school.

Getting What You Came ForThen a book caught my eye:  Getting What You Came For: The Smart Student’s Guide to Earning a Master’s or Ph.D.    It was written by a Ph.D. in biology from Stanford who was frustrated at how long it took him and his friends to earn their graduate degrees, due to missteps along the way.

I found the book very helpful in enabling me to understand the process, and I plan to try to get my son to read the first half of the book before he goes off to college.   It deals with topics like:

  • Do you need a Ph.D., a master’s degree, or neither?
  • Should you work first?
  • What is grad school like?  How does it differ from undergrad school?
  • How do you select a grad school and what can you do to improve your admission chances?
  • What constitutes a good advisor, how do you get one, and how do you dump a bad one without sabotaging yourself?
  • How do you work the grad school politics, even if politicking isn’t your thing?
  • How do you pick a good research topic, one that will be manageable, yet lead to results, and result in getting interim papers published so you build a track record?
  • Should you pursue opportunities as a teaching assistant or a research assistant?

Some of the advice – like how to select and use an advisor or what to pick for a research topic – is very apropos for undergrads, too.  But more importantly, an undergrad should be contemplating the grad school decision much earlier than senior year.  To borrow advice from Stephen Covey, “Start with the end in mind”.

The book also helped me rethink my bias towards sending my son to an liberal arts college rather than a research university.  I now think it would be good for him to get to know grad students informally and see what is expected of them, before he makes up his mind about grad school.  But I think this book will help him get a bigger picture than what he might get in casual conversation with grad students, who might be tired, discouraged or lonely at any given point in their long slog towards their Ph.Ds. and who therefore might discourage him in an off-hand conversation.

The book is thick, which can be daunting.  It’s helpful to know that (a) you can skim or peruse much of the first half and (b) you really don’t need the second half until you are actually starting thesis research.

August 6, 2009 at 11:56 am Leave a comment

Book Review: Getting Good Grades in College

Looking for a high school graduation present? Trying to help a student who is struggling in college? Buy the Professors’ Guide to Getting Good Grades in College. Their book is as well-organized as your lecture notes should be. Once read, this book can easily be used as a reference point or checklist for students as they progress through the semester.

Continue Reading May 4, 2009 at 6:56 am 2 comments

Affirmative Action: Is there still a need?

“The reasons for affirmative action are far more compelling [than alumni or athletic preferences]: helping to cure the country’s racial cleavage, improving the parity of blacks in the job market, encouraging blacks and whites to know each other on campus, and giving a hand to many young black people who grew up in bad environments.”

Continue Reading April 20, 2009 at 6:26 am Leave a comment

AP World History recommended reading

My son’s AP World History teacher recommended The World That Trade Created: Society, Culture, and the World Economy 1400 to the Present as good reading to prepare for the essay questions on the AP exam.

Continue Reading April 16, 2009 at 11:01 am Leave a comment

Book Review: 3 meritocracies

* CalTech, the elite science and technology school
* Cooper Union, the NYC school of art, architecture and engineering, where tuition is free
* Berea, a school strictly for poor students from Appalachia, with free tuition

Continue Reading April 10, 2009 at 12:14 am Leave a comment

Book Review: What Colleges Don’t Tell You

The author advocates being a helicopter parent in extremis, which makes me hesitate to recommend this book. With that said, this book contains lots of detailed tips.

Continue Reading April 5, 2009 at 8:41 am Leave a comment

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