Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Can Finish College (BOOK REVIEW)

I Can Finish College:
The Overcome Any Obstacle and Get Your Degree Guide
by Marcia Young Cantarella, Ph.D
Paperback, $17.85
248 pages, Illustrated
ISBN: 978-0-557-71731-6

Book Review by Kam Williams

“Almost half of the students who get into college do not graduate… Students who succeed have what is known as Emotional Intelligence. This means that they are resilient and know how to face obstacles, manage time, take advantage of resources, build networks, become self-aware, become self-confident, learn from every experience, focus on personal aspirations, and take responsibility for themselves…
You can succeed and finish college if you learn how these institutions work and how they can work for you. This book is meant to help you do just that. The goal is your graduation.”

-Excerpted from the Introduction (pg.7)

At my college orientation way back when, an administrator intimidated the freshmen by having us look at the person sitting on our left as well as the one on our right, before soberly prophesying that “one of the three of you will not graduate.” I was sitting between my roommates, both of whom, as it sadly turned out, did eventually leave the university without getting a degree.
Today, I can’t help but wonder how much their prospects might have been improved by a book like I Can Finish College. For this handy, how-to guide supplies plenty of great tips about identifying and dealing with the array of potential pitfalls lying in wait to torpedo the promising careers of unsuspecting undergrads before they even have a chance to blossom.
The author, Dr. Marcia Young Cantarella, is a veteran in the field of student affairs, having done long stints as a Dean on the campus of prestigious places like Princeton, NYU and Hunter College. Such ivory tower trappings notwithstanding, she nevertheless has a knack for breaking down her sage advice into readily-digestible layman’s terms.
Dr. Cantarella fields practical questions on topics ranging from how to pick and pay for college; to how to select your major and courses; to how to study and manage your time. Designed more as a utilitarian resource than as light reading to be consumed in one sitting, I Can Finish College is ideally approached as an academia encyclopedia to be returned to at any time during college that a higher education issue suddenly surfaces.
To appreciate the degree of the author’s selfless dedication to the next generation, one only need consider that she is the daughter of the late Whitney Young (1921-1971), the venerable Civil Rights Era icon who served as the Executive Director of the Urban League for over a decade. Ostensibly inspired by her father’s lifelong commitment to the disenfranchised, Dr. Cantarella conveys on these pages the sense of a person sincerely commited to alleviating the escalating, minority student dropout-rate, a crisis she refers to as the “Silent Epidemic.”
A common sense, college survival guide designed with the most vulnerable demographics in mind, especially the endangered black male.

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