The Secrets of College Success

The Secrets of College Success

by Lynn F. Jacobs, Jeremy S. Hyman

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Heading off to college? Or perhaps already there? This book's just for you. Winner of the 2010 USA Book News Award for best book in the college category, The Secrets of College Success combines easy-to-follow tips that really work with insider information that few professors are willing to reveal—but all students need to know.

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 on top of the core requirements
  • Get good grades and avoid stress
  • Interact effectively with the professor
  • Match college and career, and more.

New to this second edition are tips for:

  • Online courses and MOOCs
  • Community colleges, engineering schools, and arts and design colleges
  • E-readers, tablets, and laptops
  • Taking out student loans and paying them off, and more.

Ideal for college students at any stage, and college-bound high school students, The Secrets of College Success makes a wonderful back-to-college or high-school-graduation gift—or a smart investment in your own future.

Praise for the first edition of The Secrets of College Success

"It would be impossible not to learn something important from this book."
—J. Steven Resnick, professor and associate dean for first year seminars, University of North Carolina

"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, 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; author, You're on Your Own (But I'm Here If You Need Me): Mentoring Your Child During the College Years

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781119561903
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 03/11/2019
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 871,540
File size: 1 MB

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 Second Edition xv

Introduction xvii

Top 10 Reasons to Read This Book xix

The Professors' Guide Icons xxi


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

What's New at College? Fun Facts 7

The 15 Habits of Top College Students 10

The 10 Worst Self-Defeating Myths 14

The 11 Secrets of Getting Good Grades in College 18

20 No-Brainers to Save Money at College 22

14 Ways to Ensure You Graduate in Four Years 31

Top 10 Tips for Community College Students 36

10 Best Tips for Engineering School 41

Top 10 Tips for Applied Arts and Design Colleges 45

The College Student’s Bill of Rights 49


7 Things to Do the Summer Before College 54

15 Things to Do the Week Before College 58

10 Things to Consider Before Buying a Tablet, E-Reader, or Laptop for College 62

Do's and Don’ts for Picking Your Courses 68

Top 12 Tips for Picking a Major 72

Top 10 Secrets of the Syllabus 78

10 Questions to Ask Yourself the First Week of Classes 82

The 13 Warning Signs of a Bad Professor 85

Tips and Tricks for Improving Your Course Schedule 89

3 SKILLS 3.0

Top 10 Time-Management Tips 96

Top 10 Reasons Never to Procrastinate 100

The How Not to Study Guide 104

10 Secrets of Taking Excellent Lecture Notes 109

15 Ways to Read Like a Pro 113

15 Strategies for Painless Presentations 118

How to Build Your Confidence 123


10 Ways to Whip the Freshman Comp Requirement 129

10 Tips for Taming the Math Requirement 134

Top 10 Tips for Mastering the Foreign (or World) Language Requirement 138

10 Ideas for Learning to Love the Lab 142

10 Tips for the First-Year Experience Course 146

Facing Up to Remediation: Top 10 Strategies 149

10 Tips for Online Courses (and MOOCs) 154

How to Take Courses on the Web—for Free 160


12 Tips for A+ Test Preparation 166

"So What's Going to Be on the Test Anyway?" 171

Top 13 Test-Taking Tips 174

10 Tips for Writing the Perfect Paper 179

10 Things Your Professor Won’t Tell You About Grading 185

How to Turn a B into an A 189

14 Techniques for Doing Research Like a Professor 190

Top 10 Tips for Doing E-Research 196


15 Ways to Make Your Professor Love You 203

10 Biggest Hesitations About Going to See the Professor—and How to Get Over Them 208

The 14 Secrets of Going to See the Professor 212

Etiquette for E-mailing Your Professor 217

10 Surefi re Ways to Piss Off Your Professor 220

Top 10 Things Professors Never Want to Hear—and What They Think When They Do Hear Them 224


10 Things to Do When You Can't Keep Up with the Lecture 228

Top 10 Signs You’ve Been Cutting Too Many Classes 233

What to Do When You’ve Bombed the Midterm 234

7 Best Last-Minute Strategies for Saving Your Grade 237

10 Signs You’re in Real Trouble at College 241

What, Then, to Do? The 7-Step Approach 244


10 Must-Do’s at the Halfway Point of College 249

13 Skills You’ll Need for a Career—and How to Get Them at College 253

10 Strategies for Women Considering a Career in STEM Fields 257

Transfer Tips—from Community College to Four-Year College 261

Summer School Pros and Cons 264

Top 10 Myths About Study Abroad 268

Top 9 Tips for Taking Out Student Loans 272

10 Tips for the Senior Thesis 277


The 10-Step Program for Thinking About Grad School 284

Top 10 Tips for Getting Bang-Up Recommendations 289

8 Tips for Finding a Job 294

Top 13 Tips for Acing the Job Interview 298

Top 10 Tips for Paying Off Your Student Loans 303


The 3 Most Important Tips 309

Top 10 People We'd Like to Thank 311

Web Resources 313

Index 317

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