Book Review: Say This NOT That to Your Professor

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.  See our Resources and Tools page for suggestions.

This book is one that we recommend that parents give to their students as they head off to college.  Although it would be a nice idea for parents to read Say This, NOT That to Your Professor as well, it is intended to give advice to students about how to make the most of their communication skills to enhance their relationships with faculty members and to enhance their chances of success.

We especially like the approachability of this book for students.  The author writes in a comfortable conversational style that will resonate with most students.  The book is as close as students can come to a heart-to-heart chat with someone who knows students and knows college professors.  The advice is real, concrete, and immediately useful.

Each chapter follows a pattern, presenting a situation in which any student might find himself.  Beginning with what the student might say will help students identify immediately.  This is followed by what the professor might be thinking and then the ”Real Story,” the whole scenario.  Finally the ”Back Story” gives the rationale and advice the student needs, including actual ”say this,” but ”not that” dialogue.

Section 1 of the book deals with topics ranging from parents, classroom behavior and peers, grades, assignments and social media.  Section 2, equally valuable, covers some topics best left out of discussions with faculty members.

Before you give away this book to your student, take a few minutes to at least read Chapter 1.  The advice given to students about parent involvement serves as a good reminder to parents that there is an appropriate level of involvement, but times to stay in the background.

Consider this book as an ”off-to-college” gift for your student.  We think she’ll benefit from it over and over.

About the Author:

Ellen Bremen is a tenured faculty member in Communication Studies at Highline Community College.  She has received national recognition for teaching innovation by the Sloan-Consortium, the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development and the National Council of Instructional Administrators.  She was competitively selected to serve on the leadership team of the Gates Foundation’s Open Course Library Grant which offers open source course materials to students.

As a 14 year classroom veteran, Ellen Bremen has worked with countless students on their communication skills.  She is a sought-after subject matter expert in public speaking and interpersonal communication.  She blogs as The Chatty Professor and lives in Seattle with her husband and children.

What the author has to say about the book:

”I realized there are tons of college success guides available, but not a single one deals solely with the relationship between the two people who interact in college every single day: You and your professor.”

”College is the ideal place for you to practice excellent communication.  Professors are among the first people in your life you’ll interact with as an adult. . . You need to deal with most issues fact-to-face and sometimes via e-mail.  I want you to have inside tips on how to interact so your professor will respond in a positive manner.

I want you to learn what goes on behind the scenes of your classes so you can create opportunities rather than fumble over excuses.  I want you to confidently and properly stand up for yourself when you’re concerned about your classes or grades.  I want you to have improved relationships with your profs, an incredible learning experience, and most of all, better grades.”

Say This NOT That to Your Professor is meant to stay with you at all times, either in your backpack or on a digital device.  You’ll want to have this information accessible so you have the right words to deal with an immediate class-related crisis.

Are you ready to give yourself an amazing class and college experience?  Are you ready to find your voice?  Let’s begin the conversation!”

What others have to say about the book:

”Ellen Bremen’s book will help students avoid worst-case scenarios in the classroom and on their transcripts, with concrete tools and strategies for communicating effectively with professors.  Students will develop skills for college and for life.”

Jennifer Worick

Co-author of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: College


”Getting into college is only the beginning.  What really counts is squeezing the very most out of your time at college.  Ellen Bremen does an excellent job of sharing what it takes to not only survive in college, but more importantly, how to communicate to succeed.’

Lynn O’Shaughnessy

Higher-Ed expert for CBS MoneyWatch, and author of The College Solution


”I recently asked a professor (early!) what I could do to achieve a 4.0 in his class.  He explained his grading system.  I turned in my papers early and then made his suggested changes.  I aced each assignment.  I would not have thought to use Professor Bremen’s ideas had I not read her book!”

Don Crawley

Student and author of The Compassionate Geek: Mastering Customer Service for IT Professionals

Note: Some links in our post are for affiliate products. If you use our links, College Parent Central receives a small percentage of your purchase price. This does not change the cost to you.  We think it’s only fair to let you know that.

Related Posts:

Parenting College Students: Recommended Reading List

Parenting College Students: More Recommended Reading

Parenting College Students: Still More Recommended Reading


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