Book Review – Smarter Than You Think

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.

Smarter That You Think: Accessing Your Personal Powers to Triumph in College by Susan Liff is written for students, but it addresses a question that many faculty members and parents alike often ask themselves — ”How can a student with such strong test scores, GPA, and obvious intellectual abilities flounder so much in college?”

Liff answers this question directly early in the book, ”Learning is personal. . . How well you do in college is not just about how ”smart” you are and what you know. As important is ”who” you are; how you think about yourself, how you approach, manage, frame, execute, and persist on the tasks you confront, and how you relate to the people around you in your college world.”

Smarter Than You Think is about Social Emotional Intelligence and how this combination of abilities allows students to ”recognize, identify, understand, and manage emotions.”

The first three chapters of the book explain the concept of Social Emotional Intelligence so students will understand what it is.  The next seven chapters tackle specific aspects such as self-awareness, regulating emotions, setting goals, self-monitoring, accountability, empathy, and social skills. Each chapter illustrates how these aspects play out in every-day college life.

This book is relatively small, so it won’t intimidate students. The tone is positive and encouraging, not preachy. Students will read it because it is direct and to the point and filled with real college life examples and situations. Each chapter is peppered with several ”Consider This” boxes that pose questions for students to consider to be able to apply the principles they are reading to their own lives.

Students who read this book and take it to heart will be better students. Parents who read it will understand their students better.

About the Author:

Suzanne Liff is Emeritus Professor of reading at Nassau Community College, and a former district chairperson of secondary special education in NY. A leader in professional development, she presents extensively on best pedagogical practices, and the significance of SEI on teaching and learning. She is the author of three groundbreaking developmental reading textbooks for college students. Professor Liff is the recipient of an honorary life membership to the Special Education PTA, the Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award for Outstanding Scholarly and Professional Accomplishment, and the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

What the author has to say about the book:

”Your success in college is not just about your academic skills and strengths.  Nope, it’s not about how great you read, how well you do math, or if your IQ is off the charts.

In the coming pages, you will learn that there are many ways to be smart. Some reflect your intelligence and cognitive abilities. Others include your athletic, musical, or even spiritual capacities. But the most encompassing ones, shadowing you wherever you go, are not measured on achievement tests, writing samples, or at auditions.

Get ready to discover, develop and strengthen the amazing components of your social and emotional self. You will learn how they improve almost every aspect of your college life, from managing the work load to relating to your professors, completing your assignments on time, studying in ways that work, enriching how you socialize and forge relationships, and dealing with missteps or even occasional failures that are part of the college experience.

Let’s take this important and transformative journey together. Find out all about your personal powers and how to access them to triumph in college. And yes, you will discover that you have the capacity to be smarter than you think!”

What others have to say about the book:

”This marvelous, easy-to-read book provides anyone thinking about , planning on or actually already in college a wonderful how-to on being a successful college student. It’s full of advice on how to face the academic and social pressures that college students face. It teases apart the issues related to these pressures; and breaks them down into manageable concepts that can be mastered. As a clinical psychologist and educational consultant who works with many high school students who are planning on going to college, and many college students who are already there, I will be heartily recommending it!”

“Smarter Than You Think, Accessing Your Personal Powers to Triumph in College is a remarkable book in its clear presentation of theory and practice. The language and style of the book are appropriate for high school and college students, and the inclusion of real- life stories from campus adds impact to the message that social and emotional intelligence are key to success and happiness. In my many years as a college professor teaching developmental courses, I have met countless students who struggled with academic life for reasons beyond IQ or academics. Now there is a resource for these students and for all young people finding their way in new environments and facing new challenges.”

“The author masterfully weaves together theory and life experience with reflection opportunities and concrete action steps to guide students on their personal journey of discovery. Written in a friendly, conversational style, this book is a concise but impactful must-read not only for incoming freshmen but for all college students.”

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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2 thoughts on “Book Review – Smarter Than You Think”

  1. Social emotional intelligence isn’t talked about enough! All of those characteristics are important to a student adjusting to college life. Well done on this article!


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