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Mastering College: The Tried-and-True Way Review by Sheila Chairvolotti

Darren Sapp

College—does it feel far away for your child, or is looming on the horizon? As a homeschooling parent, completion of a program of study progresses through the elementary school years, the middle school years, the high school years, and then what? Darren Sapp has written a book entitled Mastering College the Tried-and-True Way which will give a college-bound student some suggestions and tips for succeeding in college. This book is a short soft-covered book with fourteen chapters intended to help a potential or current college student succeed in college life. At a price of under ten dollars, it would make a nice gift for a high school student in your life!

Some students seem to naturally figure out the “tools” for success in school—memory tricks, time-management skills, purpose and the ability to prioritize, paper writing skills, and more; other students need some guidance, a college “how-to” type of introduction. Darren Sapp reaches into his own college experiences to share with potential students some ideas, techniques, and suggestions which were helpful to his own successes in his college experiences.

Sapp’s book is a small book, unintimidating looking, with short chapters that are easy to read in small chunks. The author covers topics such as personal safety, time management, memorization tips/methods, writing papers, health/exercise/sleep, fraternities and clubs, speed reading, using the syllabus, labs, tutors, and more.

In my family, we have a student currently in college as well as one who will be in college next year and another for whom college is a few years off. I read this book with them all in mind and discussed aspects of it with them. I love the idea of giving students a head start by helping them know what good habits look like. As I read the book, much of what the author addressed was tips which I have used in my own learning life—and ones which I have taught my children to use with varying degrees of success. I do think that they are valuable ideas, but I also think that they will resonate more with some students than with others.

I did not necessarily agree with all the tips given by the author. For instance, for reading a textbook, I recommend reading at a slower rate and taking notes all along, rather than the speed reading that he suggests. Other topics cover ideas which are not original to the author but might be new to some students.

Though I had a few reservations about some of the tips given, I would still recommend this book. It is a short read, and I do think that it would be a great idea to have a college or pre-college student read it and pick up ideas which they could try. The author has proven success in his own life with his methods of learning and though everyone learns a bit differently, I think it is a good idea to find out what has worked for someone else and choose parts of their method to assimilate into your own learning method.

-Product review by Sheila Chairvolotti, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2020