Book Review – There Is Life After College

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 offered some recommended reading, and there is something for everyone. See the Recommended Reading section of our Resources page for more suggestions.

The problem with There Is Life After College, by Jeffrey Selingo, is the title.  This sounds like a good book for a college senior to pick up for after graduation advice.  The subtitle helps: What Parents and Students Should Know About Navigating School to Prepare for the Jobs of Tomorrow. If parents and students take time to read the subtitle, they will understand that this is a book that should be read well before college graduation.  It is a book that both parents and students should read, and talk about together, while they are in high school – and then again several times during college.

One of the things we like about There Is Life After College is that it is a book for everyone.  High school students should read it to understand that, as the author states, “What you do in college is more important than where you go to college.” During that stressful college decision time, students would do well to think about how they plan to maximize their experience at the colleges they are considering.  College students and recent graduates should consider, “To thrive in your career, don’t treat college or your job as a spectator sport.” As parents read There Is Life After College, they should think about their student’s strengths and challenges.  The many specific descriptions in the book will help them to understand, and then motivate, their student. Parents will also be reminded that the world of college and career today is not the world they entered.

Finally, college administrators and faculty members should read this book to better understand their students and how the college system may be failing to prepare those students for the workplace they will encounter. “In school, students are rewarded for having answers, not asking questions. . . The college classroom reinforces the message that failure is unacceptable.  Students are never exposed, for instance, to the feedback process that is the hallmark of most jobs today. . . People know how to take a course, but they need to learn how to learn . . . College is very task based: take an exam, finish a paper, attend a club meeting, go to practice.  Meanwhile, the workplace is more of a mash-up of activities with no scheduled end.”

There Is Life After College helps students, parents, and faculty/administrators, see the thread of preparation that runs from high school through college and early career.  All of these participants will need to work together to help motivate, and support students toward career and life  preparation in order to succeed in the workplace of today – and the future.

We highly recommend There Is Life After College. Beginning to think about life after college even before college can make the college years even more meaningful and productive.

About the author:

Jeffrey J. Selingo has written about higher education for two decades.  He is a regular contributor to the Washington Post and is the author of two previous books, College (Un)Bound and MOOC U. He is the former top editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education, where he worked for 16 years in a variety of reporting and editing roles. Selingo’s writing has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Slate, and he has appeared on ABC, CNN, PBS, and NPR.  He is a special adviser and professor of practice at Arizona State University and a visiting scholar at the Center for 21st Century Universities at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Jeff received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ithaca College and a master’s degree in government from the Johns Hopkins University. He is a member of the board of trustees at Ithaca College. He lives with his family in Chevy Chase, Maryland. 

What the author has to say about the book:

“Everyone wanted to know if there were other paths to a successful life beyond the one suggested to most teenagers: graduate from high school, go straight to college three months later (preferably a four-year one), and get a job. . . In this book I set out to answer their questions.  How can young adults navigate the route from high school through college and into an increasingly perilous economy?  What are the fundamental experiences that shape their success in the job market?  What skills prove most helpful? And most of all, why do some prosper while others fail?”

“This book will help you get off to the right start on that journey.  What it won’t do, though, is set out a single path or another set of hoops for twentysomethings.  This is about shifting how we think about life after college, about the trajectory toward a successful career – a journey that is not linear, but personal and unique.

Over the course of the chapters ahead, I’ll describe a broad range of approaches for students to follow and programs to discover – both while they are in college and after they are out – that are already helping college graduates land firmly on their feet.”

“. . . the heart of this book is a how-to, structured around the key markers for adolescents as they march toward adulthood: the pathway to college, the college experience itself, and, of course, the critical first years after graduation. . . The final part of the book outlines the future of work, how companies will hire, and how tomorrow’s college graduates can better translate their experiences and skills into a coherent story to succeed.” 

What others have to say about the book:

“Jeffrey Selingo’s book belongs on the desk of every career counselor, on the shelf of every parent, and in the hands of every young person planning his or her future.  There Is Life After College is essential reading for navigating the new workplace terrain.”

Daniel H. Pink, New York Times bestselling author of To Sell I Human and Drive

“Why are so many young adults wandering or straggling in the job market?  How can parents help their kids thrive out there?  Drawing upon his decades of research and extensive conversations with twentysomethings, educators, and employers, Selingo convincingly frames the twenty-first-century job market as a wholly unfamiliar terrain, then provides comprehensive strategies and tactical tips for tackling it.”

Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise an Adult

“An eye-opening exploration of what the future holds for college grads.  It’s a must-read for students – and their parents – to prepare for launching careers in a radically different job market.”

Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take and Originals

“Amid all the anxiety among parents and students about how to get into college and how to pay for it, Jeffrey Selingo identifies the question we should be worried about: What comes after college?  This book is an important wake-up call for anyone concerned with the future of our higher-education system, as well as an invaluable guide for students who want to make the most of their college years.”

Paul Tough, author of the New York Times bestseller How Children Succeed

“Jeffrey Selingo’s There Is Life After College is essential reading for high school and college students and their parents.  Selingo doesn’t just provide the answers, he make sure his readers know the important questions to ask.  Students looking for a road map to the future should get this book and heed its advice.”

Patricia Rose, director of career services, University of Pennsylvania


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