Book Review: Collegiate: 7 Big Ideas to Make College Awesome

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.

In this review, we take a look at a book that is not technically for parents, but for their students. Reading this book may give parents a clearer vision of college, but the true benefit of this book is as a gift for your student.

When we first considered the book Collegiate: 7 Big Ideas to Make College Awesome, we’ll admit to being skeptical. The book is small, has simple graphics, and was written by two college students. How much wisdom can two college students share? The answer is – a surprising amount.

Collegiate would make a great gift for any student heading to college. The book is written, as the authors put it, ”from the trenches” by ”two regular college dudes” who share what they’ve learned through their college journey. The book is written by students for students and is filled with stories and anecdotes, and sometimes the mistakes, with which students can identify. It isn’t preachy and full of practical study tips by the adults who know better, it is filled with advice from students who’ve lived it — more recently than the rest of us.

The book begins with three core ideas: college can be remarkable, living for yourself is boring, and you have more time on your hands than you think. Understanding these ideas alone will set a student on a good path. But we are particularly impressed with the seven ”big ideas” that every ”awesome college experience” has in common: purpose, vision, community, growth, impact, adventure, urgency. Each chapter of the book explores one of these seven ideas.  Rather than filling the book with practical tips (except perhaps in the last chapter), the authors have filled the book with their stories, and the stories of their friends. Students can understand the concepts and how they play out in practice.

The authors express their hope ”that these ideas will help change the way you think about college. Because college is too important to get wrong, and it’s too short to squander.” We think the book has the potential to do just that.

About the authors:

Caleb Stevens is a 2016 graduate of the University of Georgia where he studied Business Management and Personal and Organizational Leadership. During college, Caleb started a podcast show for the business school, helped launch a faith and work conference, and was the student commencement speaker at graduation.  He spent his summers working with startups, marketing at Chick-fil-A corporate and the Center for Faith & Work in New York City.

Nick Salyers is a 2016 graduate of the University of Georgia where he competed on the varsity swim team while completing a degree in Marketing and certificates in Entrepreneurship and Leadership.  Nick has a passion for adventure, community, and stories.  In college, he was named a Deer Run Fellow and Leonard Leadership Scholar and was on UGA’s Homecoming Court. He is now the co-founder of Champion Tribes — a start-up in Atlanta that helps fathers and sons connect in life-changing ways.

What the authors have to say about the book:

”This isn’t a book about developing productive study habits or getting better grades. . . This isn’t a book supported by years of empirical research and hardline data.

This book is different.  Two regular college dudes wrote it — straight from the trenches of our real life college experiences.  In fact, at the time of this writing, we are both in our final year of college.  You read that right. We haven’t even officially graduated yet! Technically, we’re still in the trenches ourselves.

One thing is for sure, college has been awesome — for both of us — and we want to share with you what we’ve learned.”

”We didn’t write this book for ourselves.  We wrote it for you.  We wrote it because too many people go through college passively.  They let the years go by without much rhyme or reason for what college is, and what college can be..  We want you to seize these days.  We want your college experience to be unforgettably awesome.  We’re rooting for you.  Now, it’s go time.

Go live with purpose. Go chart your remarkable vision. Go build a community worth walking with. Go embrace each and every hurricane that comes your way. Go make a campus-shaking, impact-making ruckus. Go pursue the ultimate adventure. And never, ever, waste a weekend.”

What others have to say about the book:

”Informative in its frameworks as well as humorous in its anecdotes, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Although my time at college has come and gone this book contained relevant insights for my life today. I have bought this for high school graduation presents, but would definitely suggest it to parents and recent grads as well. Honestly, anyone could learn something from Collegiate!”

Sarah N.

”I wish that I had this book before I started college! This is everything that I wish I had known as a freshman. This is my new go-to for graduating high school students.”


”A great inspirational book!! It’s a quick-fun read and has lots of voice.This book will be great for anybody starting college or starting a new stage in life, it motivates the reader to do new things and be adventurist, daring and above all being happy with what you’re doing. Highly recommend this book to everybody!”

Pilar Valdez

”As someone who works with college students, I would highly recommend this book to any college student, and especially incoming freshmen. Most students have no idea what they’re getting into when they arrive on campus at a large university, and it’s easy to get lost in the many opportunities, good and bad. This book is about not getting lost in college. It’s seven big ideas with practical steps to help you think through and apply them to whatever your own interests and situations are. It helps you to have a plan to become the type of person you really want to be and live college life pursuing your deepest passions and values. Don’t be intimidated by that phrase “having a plan.” It’s not a strict structure. It really is some big picture wisdom that being aware of in advance will help you get more out of college than a degree.

Also, the book is super easy to read. It goes fast, and Caleb and Nick do a great job incorporating their own experiences, some of which are quite entertaining and funny. If you want a light read that will give you great direction and wisdom to make college more than just school and good times, Collegiate is a great guide!”


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.

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