Lessons from college that every high school student should know: Rutgers professor tells all in his latest book
Every year, millions of students nationwide graduate college having learned numerous lessons during their time in school and a fresh group of rising first-years begin their own college journey shortly thereafter.
The big question is, what if a student could acquire some of that knowledge before they first step on campus — “101 Lessons They Never Taught You In High School About Going To College” tries to answer that.
Mark Beal, a professor in the School of Arts and Sciences, wrote “101 Lessons” to help students prepare as they transition into college, he said.
It is his second book, following last year’s “101 Lessons They Never Taught You In College,” which aimed to help recent graduates move into the workforce.
“So I started teaching at Rutgers in 2013, and from that first class, after every class, by email, in person (and) by phone, students just kept asking ‘How do I get an internship? How do I prepare my resume? How do I network professionally?’” Beal said.
He found himself helping college students at Rutgers and from across the country with questions about resumes, interviews and jobs, he said. These questions inspired Beal to compile a set of answers — which have now been put to paper in his latest book.
From “Lesson 37: Sleep Well” to “Lesson 78: Use Stress To Your Advantage,” the book covers the ins-and-outs of the college experience that are not always discussed, as well as the usual topic of how to succeed academically, which is kicked off with “Lesson 9: Go To Class.”
Beal said he pieced the literature together through crowdsourcing. It started with an email to students in a few of his classes, asking for a sentence about a lesson they learned at school. He said within minutes he had responses, and they just kept on coming.
The response was great, he said. He originally received more than 101 lessons before editing it down and organizing the layout of the book.
It is split into five parts all consisting of different lessons that students contributed to. Beal said 40 students from more than 20 universities, including Rutgers, added to the list of lessons. He then compared them to avoid duplicates, and flushed out the individual ideas that the students sent him.
“(The students) were the inspiration for the lesson and maybe a line, and then I would write it,” Beal said. “And then since they all contributed, I felt obligated that I should go back to each of them with their lessons and say ‘Here’s how I brought your lesson to life, do you approve?’” Beal said.
Carly Galasso, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, is one of Beal’s students and contributed to the book. She said she was excited to contribute her advice.
“I always wished that there was a book that I could just give someone coming straight out of high school to provide them with good advice,” she said. “But when Mark presented this idea and this opportunity to put in my own feedback, it was really interesting. And I already knew exactly what pieces of advice I wanted to say, because it’s what I usually tell everyone.”
Galasso said she contributed four lessons. They are to relax and breathe, get off on a strong start, get organized and be practical.
She explained that “Lesson 76: Be Practical” was the one she related to the most because of her experiences as a commuter and transfer student.
“I was a transfer student, and I felt like I didn’t take the path that all college students took,” she said. “… So I think what’s important is to tailor your path to you, and whatever works best for you, just choose what’s practical for you.”
Beal said the order of the book naturally fell into place, with lessons about family, friends and home falling under the "Family & Friends” part, and those about classes under “Classes & Professors.”
But due to its setup, this is a book that someone can flip open to a random page and find a quick lesson to read. He said he hopes the lessons can help high-school graduates take ownership of their college careers from the beginning.
He said that sometimes first-year students might be shy or apprehensive about things like reaching out to a professor, joining a club or striking up a friendship with classmates. The book gives advice and lessons on how to get the most out of the four years of college from the very beginning — instead of learning as one goes.
“In high school, that may sound a little strange, but that’s what you do in college, you try new things, you meet new people,” Beal said. “And so I think there’s that license, hopefully it gives them the license like ‘Okay, I go to this place where I can strike up friendships, I can join any club I want.’”