Book Review: College: Been There Should’ve Done That

From time to time, we like to review some of the books available for parents of college students.  There is a wealth of literature available to help parents cope with the transition to college and the changes that occur throughout the college years.  We’ve created lists of recommended reading, and there is something for everyone. Check out our Resources and Tools page for suggestions.

This is a review of a fun little book put together by Suzette Tyler titled Been There, Should’ve Done That: 995 Tips for Making the Most of College This is a book for you to give to your college student – but to read first, before you give it away.   It contains tip after tip – from college students for college students about topics from orientation to dorm suggestions to clubs and activities to choosing courses to taking notes in the classroom.  Most of the topics of interest to students are covered somewhere in this book.

The format of this book makes it fun and easy to read.  The personality of the student comments make it personal.  Some of the contradictions in advice by different students highlight the fact that there is seldom an exactly right answer for many issues, although some of the mixed messages might be confusing to new students.  Much of the advice makes sense.  Student favorite web tools listed give helpful follow-up.

We wouldn’t recommend this as the only source for helpful advice for college, but this book is a great way to help your college student begin to think about the realities of college life – and to start some conversations between you and your student.  If you read it together, you’ll have lots of food for discussion together.  Not all of the advice in this book should be taken to heart or accepted at face value, but all of it should be considered.  It will give students reason to make thoughtful choices of their own.

Here are a few of our favorite pieces of advice from the book.

“The problem with college is that you figure it out about the time you’re ready to graduate”

“College is a good time to become the person you want to be.  People accept you for who you are now, not who you were in the third grade.”

“There’s no reason to fail – NONE!  There are people here to help and it’s free.  Actually, you’ve paid for it, every single thing, so you might as well use it.”

“If I had it to do over I’d have gone to more than just football games and parties.  There were excellent speakers, concerts, theater all right there!  Those things aren’t available to me now . . . and for sure, not at student prices!”

“Geez, where do I start . . .?  There are so many things I wish I’d done . . . I could kick myself for not realizing that college was probably the only time I’d have the freedom and the opportunity to explore options and try a lot of different things.  After you graduate, it’s all about paying bills . . . there’s no time and no opportunity for much else.”

“It seemed like there was sooo much more free time in college than in high school – until I realized that it isn’t ‘free’.  You’re supposed to be studying!  It’s just that there’s no one there to tell you to . . . “

What others have to say about the book

“It’s like having your best friend say, ‘I’m gonna tell you exactly what you need to know.’  I found myself nodding in agreement with every chapter.”

Dr. Meladee McCarty, Educator

“I was amazed at how true the title is.  It really is everything I should’ve known before I left for college.”

Lance Nathan, Brown University

“As a college instructor with over twenty years of experience, I can say without qualification or condition that this is a book that should be given to all students.”

Charles Ashbacher, Marion Ohio


1 thought on “Book Review: College: Been There Should’ve Done That”

  1. Hi Vicki,
    I have forgotten your wisdom! Missed your voice too!
    I have a parent on our board looking for book recommendations. Would you like to visit and tell her your ideas?

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