Cracking the College Code – Catherine O’Connor

20170404_151307‘A practical guide to making the most of the first year college experience.’

Written by a college lecturer this book fills a gap in the market. I don’t know of another really practical book that gives a student (and parent) the information they need to know to make the transition from Second to Third Level education in Ireland.  This book provides advice on how to choose the right course, what to consider when choosing a college, how to find student accommodation, what to expect when living at home and studying and more. The book gives a description of how colleges are run and how they differ greatly from the school environment. Overall ‘Cracking the College Code’ is a good reference point for any prospective student.

The book is brief, 116 pages. There are 10 chapters dealing with different aspects of college life. The writing style is informative and concise. It is therefore easy to access the desired information. Key aspects of college life are explained such as what to expect from lectures, tutorials, student services, library services, college societies etc. There is a nice section on how to fit in socially and gives advice on this to the nervous student. There is also a section on different learning experiences such as lab work, presentations, group work, demonstrations and so on. There is a detailed section on the examination process also.

There is a strong emphasis on the difference between second level education and college. I couldn’t help but feel that the book was preaching to me. The book reiterates over and over how students are responsible for their own work and deadlines must be respected. Parents can no longer intervene on your behalf. This information is important for students to understand but I felt it was a little condescending and could have been written in a more empowering way.

Overall this is an informative and practical guide for students. Most students would not need to read this book as they will find their own way through college. But for the more anxious student it could really alleviate the worry and fear they may experience as they embark on a new journey in life. This book sheds light and takes the mystery out of the college experience. Should parents be reading this book? Yes, for one reason only. . . to understand that they need to take a back seat in their son’s or daughter’s  college education and allow them the freedom and independence to navigate their life by themselves.

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