The Secrets of College Success

The Secrets of College Success

by Lynn F. Jacobs, Jeremy S. Hyman


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Are you among the 22 million students now enrolled in college? Or a high school student thinking of joining them shortly? Or perhaps a parent of a college-bound junior or senior? Then this book is just for you. Written by college professors and successfully used by tens of thousands of students, The Secrets of College Success combines easy-to-use tips, techniques, and strategies with insider information that few professors are willing to reveal. The over 800 tips in this book will show you how to:

  • pick courses and choose a major
  • manage your time and develop college-level study skills
  • get good grades and manage the “core” requirements
  • get motivated and avoid stress
  • interact effectively with the professor or TA
  • prepare for a productive and lucrative career

New to this third edition are high-value tips about:

  • undergraduate and collaborative research
  • summer internships
  • staying safer on campus
  • diversity and inclusion
  • disabilities and accommodations

…with special tips for international students at US colleges.

Winner of the 2010 USA Book News Award for best book in the college category, The Secrets of College Success makes a wonderful back-to-college or high-school-graduation gift –or a smart investment in your own college success.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781119561804
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 04/02/2019
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 169,307
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

LYNN F. JACOBS and JEREMY S. HYMAN are college professors with a combined 50-plus years of teaching experience at eight different colleges, including the University of Arkansas, MIT, Princeton, UCLA, Vanderbilt University, and California State University, Northridge. They maintain a website at, blog for U.S. News & World Report, and have contributed to blogs at The New York Times, Chegg, and Reader's Digest.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Third Edition xiii

Introduction xv

Top 10 Reasons to Read This Book xvii

The Professors’ Guide™ Icons xix

1This Is College

10 Things You Need to Know About College (But Probably Don’t) 3

The 15 Habits of Top College Students 7

The 10 Worst Self-Defeating Myths 11

10 Ways to Get Motivated at College 15

The 11 Secrets of Getting Good Grades in College 18

14 Ways to Ensure You Graduate in Four Years 22

Top 10 Tips for Community College Students 27

10 Best Tips for Engineering School 32

The College Student’s Bill of Rights 36

2 In The Beginning . . .

8 Things to Do the Summer Before College 40

15 Things to Do the Week Before College 45

Do’s and Don’ts for Picking Your Courses 49

Top 12 Tips for Picking a Major 53

Top 10 Secrets of the Syllabus 59

10 Questions to Ask Yourself the First Week of Classes 63

13 Warning Signs of a Bad Professor 66

Tips and Tricks for Improving Your Course Schedule 70

3 Skills 3.0

Top 10 Time-Management Tips 77

Top 10 Reasons Never to Procrastinate 82

The How Not to Study Guide 86

10 Must-Do’s in Lecture 91

10 Secrets of Taking Excellent Lecture Notes 95

15 Ways to Read Like a Pro 100

15 Strategies for Painless Presentations 105

15 Ways to Build Your Confidence 110

4 Specialties of The House

10 Ways to Whip the Freshman Comp Requirement 117

10 Tips for Taming the Math Requirement 122

Top 10 Tips for Mastering the Foreign (or World) Language Requirement 126

10 Ideas for Learning to Love the Lab 130

10 Tips for the First-Year Experience Course 134

Facing Up to Remediation: Top 10 Strategies 137

10 Tips for Online Courses 142

5 It’s Showtime!

12 Tips for A+ Test Preparation 148

"So What’s Going to Be on the Test Anyway?" 153

Top 13 Test-Taking Tips 156

10 Tips for Constructing the Perfect Paper 161

10 Things Your Professor Won’t Tell You About Grading 167

How to Turn a B into an A 171

14 Techniques for Doing Research Like a Professor 172

Top 10 Tips for Doing E-Research 178

6 Overcoming Challenges

10 Strategies for Staying Safer on Campus 185

8 Strategies for Students from Underrepresented Populations 190

10 Tips for Dealing with Disabilities 195

Top 10 Tips for International Students 200

7 Interfacing with The Professor

15 Ways to Make Your Professor Love You 209

10 Biggest Hesitations About Going to See the Professor—and How to Get Over Them 214

The 14 Secrets of Going to See the Professor 218

Etiquette for E-mailing Your Professor 223

10 Surefire Ways to Piss Off Your Professor 227

Top 10 Things Professors Never Want to Hear—and What They Think When They Do Hear Them 231

8 In Case of Emergency . . .

10 Things to Do When You Can’t Keep Up with the Lecture 235

8 Things to Do When There’s Too Much Reading 240

Top 10 Signs You’ve Been Cutting Too Many Classes 244

What to Do When You’ve Bombed the Midterm 245

7 Best Last-Minute Strategies for Saving Your Grade 248

10 Signs You’re in Real Trouble at College 253

What, Then, to Do? The 7-Step Approach 256

9 The Second Half

10 Must-Do’s At The Halfway Point of College 261

12 Skills You’ll Need for a Career—and How to Get Them at College 265

Top 10 Tips for Doing Undergraduate Research 269

10 Strategies for Women Considering a Career in STEM Fields 274

Do’s and Don’ts for a Summer Internship 278

Summer School Pros and Cons 281

Top 10 Myths About Study Abroad 285

10 Tips for the Senior Thesis 289

10 Moving On

The 10-Step Program for Thinking About Grad School 296

Top 10 Tips for Getting Bang-Up Recommendations 301

8 Tips for Finding a Job 305

How to Ace the Job Interview 309

The End—And The Beginning

The 3 Most Important Tips 315

Index 317

Notes 329

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Advance Praise for The Secretsof College Success

" If I had my way, I’d give this book to every single college student, of any age, and make them read it. A book that moves from ‘How to Turn a B into an A’ to ‘10 Surefire Ways to Piss Off Your Professor,’ is beyond just ‘helpful.’’ It is ‘the Missing Manual’ for turning a merely ‘okay’ college experience into a delicious adventure. I laughed, I took notes, I loved every page. And I’m not even in college. If you are, don’t even think about not buying this book. It will be the best thing you ever did for yourself."— Richard Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute?

" Along with shower flip-flops and a very loud alarm clock, this book should be on every freshman’s college packing list. The professors have outlined solutions for all the major fears that students face when they start college." — Marjorie Savage, parent program director, University of Minnesota and author of You’re on Your Own (But I’m Here If You Need Me): Mentoring Your Child During the College Years

" Psychologically sound tips for thriving, not just surviving, in college. Lynn’s and Jeremy’s tips will make your college experience a spectacular success." — Chuck Snowden, director of honors program, University of Wisconsin

" Clear, practical, comprehensive — and caring. These authors want you to succeed. Listen." — Judy Genshaft, president, University of South Florida and past president, American Council on Education

" Riddled with humor and witty in presentation, this lighthearted "easy read" could be the most helpful, honest resource for today’s college student." — Scott H. Reikofski, director, fraternity/sorority affairs, University of Pennsylvania

" The Secrets of College Success needs to be required reading for anyone starting college, regardless of age. A great source of practical advice that could mean the difference between success and failure." — Eduardo J. Padrón, president, Miami Dade College

" The students who are most successful in college are those who are most prepared. The Secrets of College Success reveals what students need to know from the perspective of the professors who teach them. It pays to know the rules of the game before you play."— George R. Boggs, president and CEO, American Association of Community Colleges

" This volume provides a banquet of tips. Easy to read, easy to locate what you need, this book will be helpful throughout your undergraduate years. I highly recommend it."— Sharon J. Hamilton, professor and former director, Indiana University Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching

" Accessibly written and logically organized, there’s something here for everyone. This handy volume will help students focus on what it takes to be successful."—Peter H. Quimby, deputy dean, Princeton University

" This book provides sound advice in a great format on how to get the most from your college education, starting on Day 1 of your freshman year."— Martha O’Connell, executive director, Colleges that Change Lives

" High schools focus on getting their seniors  TO college but they rarely teach them how to get THROUGH college. Professors Jacobs and Hyman  fill this gap with a series of high energy, digestible and practical tips that any student can master in one sitting. This book should be required reading for every college-bound student so that they will be equipped with the "under-the-hood" expertise they need to succeed in h0000igher education."—Keith W. Frome, chief academic officer, College Summit Inc.

" The Secrets of College Success is an easy-to-read, highly informative book. In my experience, many students come in to Stanford unprepared for the realities of college life. With bite-sized and digestible tips, this book provides substantial advice applicable to any college student."— Kamil Dada, president

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Secrets of College Success 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very useful and straightforward
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw this book recommended in the National Catholic Register in their issue on which colleges were truly Catholic they listed books for the "college bound" to look at and this was one of them very handy tips in it there is some coarse language implied in the work also a scrutinous eye is called for in a few instances when the authors hint at their ideas on morals however it was informative and helpful for me as a high school senior!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago