Review: How to Get the Most Out of 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 lists of recommended reading, and there is something for everyone. Visit our Resources page for suggestions of important books for college parents and their students.

How to Get the Most Out of College: 127 Ways to Make Connections, Make It Work for You, and Make a Difference by Elliot Felix should be shared with your student as they begin their college search and admission process. The core message that college is not an obstacle to survive but rather an experience you create should be front and center for every student as they approach their college years.

How to Get the Most Out of College is divided into three parts, and each part is essential to creating the successful and fulfilling college experience that every student seeks. Part 1 – Know Yourself and Your College Options lays the foundation for the college search. This section emphasizes the importance of understanding yourself before you can know what you are looking for in a college, and then follows that with the importance of knowing all of the options available to find the right match.

Part 2 contains six chapters, each containing short accessible tips about general advice for creating a strong foundation for success. These topics include thriving in class, feeling supported, mastering technology, enjoying your campus, and exploring career paths. Specific tips range from “connect the dots with your class projects” and “practice advocating for yourself” to “focus on belonging” and “get ‘lost’ on your campus.”

Finally, Part 3 addresses specific advice for various identity groups. We love that this book recognizes and affirms that everyone’s college experience will be unique and students with differing identities with have different challenges and needs. Felix addresses nine different groups: first-generation students, students of color, students with children, students with disabilities, LGBTQ+ students, transfer students, student athletes, international students, and veterans.

Students will appreciate that How to Get the Most Out of College is set up in short, readable tips. It is action oriented and each chapter ends with a summary of key points and a reflection activity asking students to identify what might be challenging about this section, how they will overcome these challenges, and one thing that they can do right now. If students are going to create their own experience, they need to get started taking action right now.

Although this book would be a great high school graduation gift to help students transition to college, we recommend it for high school juniors so they can begin building their solid college foundation as well as look ahead.

About the author:

Elliot Felix is an author, speaker, teacher, father, and consultant on a mission to make college work for all students. He has been featured in Forbes and FastCompany, spoken at SxSW Edu, taught courses on innovation, and been a consultant to more than 100 colleges and universities. Through his company, Brightspot Strategy, he has improved the experience of more than 1,000,000 students. Elliot lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Liz, their daughter, Nora, and their son, Theo.

What the author has to say about the book:

“Your experience in college isn’t something you navigate or get through. It’s more than an obstacle course, though it can sometimes feel like one. It’s an experience you create so you can get the most out of college. You make it work for you so you have the information, inspiration, and support you need. You make connections with people, to places, and between ideas. You make a difference.

I’ve had the chance to conduct more than two thousand interviews, focus groups, workshops, and town hall meetings with students, faculty, staff, and university leaders – plus surveys of many more. I’ve learned a lot from all these conversations and research along the way.

Now I want to share what I’ve learned about how colleges work so that you can get the most out of your experience and be better connected to your courses, campus, community and career. Because opportunities to make the most of college haven’t always been equally available to all students, the insights in this book can help level the playing field so that everyone has the chance to learn, grow, belong, and succeed.

By combining what I’ve learned from talking to a diverse set of students and experts with evidence about what works and what doesn’t from hundreds of research studies, I will show you how to get the most out of college.

Beyond the what, why, and how to make the most of college, there are stories from students throughout the book on what worked for them and what did not so that you can hear from other students directly.

You don’t have to read all the tips in order. You can skip around. You don’t even have to read all the tips. You can focus on the ones that interest you, at least to start with. And you don’t have to worry or feel bad if you can’t act on all the advice in here. If you can put a few tips to use, you’ll have made a good start on taking charge of your education, making college work for you, and getting the most out of it.”

What others have to say about the book:

​”Usually, books like this are obvious and useless. But How to Get the Most Out of College is uniquely savvy, insightful, and research based, on both finding the right college and thriving once you’re there.”

John Katzman, Founder of The Princeton Review, 2U, and Noodle


“This is a well-researched “Insider’s guide” to college that will empower students and their support structures to prepare, develop a sense of belonging, and be successful.”

Cedric Howard, Vice President of Student Affairs, University of Northern Colorado


“Who wouldn’t benefit from a roadmap for the college search AND what to do on campus? This book offers students – both those students who may not have a family member guiding them AND those who think they already know it all – a series of suggestions to find and benefit from institutions that value students in the co-creation of their education. A great read to inspire your selection process.”

Tom Ellett, Chief Experience Officer (CXO), Quinnipiac University

Something unique:

How to Get the Most Out of College has a special offer – not for you, but for others. For each copy sold, one will be donated to a student in need.  We think that’s pretty cool!

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 and helps to support our work.  We think it’s only fair to let you know that.

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