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What the Best College Students Do

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  338 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
The author of the best-selling book "What the Best College Teachers Do" is back with more humane, doable, and inspiring help, this time for students who want to get the most out of college--and every other educational enterprise, too.

The first thing they should do? Think beyond the transcript. The creative, successful people profiled in this book--college graduates who wen
Hardcover, 289 pages
Published August 27th 2012 by Belknap Press (first published July 16th 2012)
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Jul 21, 2013 Melissa rated it liked it
As a student entering college as a freshman this fall, I felt the book was very encouraging, although not exactly insightful. The book's main argument focused on what it meant to be a "deep learner" versus a "strategic learner". Personally, I felt in an ideal world a student must be a blend of the two. I didn't like that Ken Bain rejected the idea that students should be focusing on grades. Grades should reflect if you've done the work, shouldn't they? And if a student completely reject their gr ...more
May 30, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book had an interesting and unexpected effect on me. I read it through a teacher's lens thinking about what I, as a teacher of students about to head to college, could do to facilitate the kind of learning that will most benefit good college students. And while I chafed at the book's anecdotal and seemingly unacademic style, it actually made me think about teaching and learning more than any other book I've read recently, and I try to delve into professional literature quite a lot, actually ...more
Bonnie Irwin
Aug 19, 2012 Bonnie Irwin rated it really liked it
Every faculty member should read this book, despite the fact that it is actually written for students. Bain brings together a wide range of research on learning as well as synthesizing the experiences of several very successful people. What results is a thought-provoking little book on how to learn deeply instead of just making good grades in college. I am not sure the prose is consistently engaging enough to reach the students who most need to read it, unfortunately, and despite the fact that s ...more
Aug 22, 2013 Mary rated it liked it
Shelves: public-education
Could be titled "What the Best College Students Read." I'm not sure it's really geared to the average college freshman, but teachers and parents could benefit from reading it and potentially needling their students about it. Bain emphasizes the need for curiosity, love of learning and the liberal arts. His case studies include students rich enough to take summer service vacations in India and also families which were poor and marginalized, but sacrificed for education. The criteria for these "su ...more
Emily Ellsworth
Aug 13, 2013 Emily Ellsworth rated it liked it
It wasn't what I was expecting. In many ways, I really wanted to get into what he was saying about being a deep learner. I feel like as an older student, I get that concept much better than I did when I was 18 and in college. However, I felt like many of his anecdotes pertained to overly political and biased points of view. There was a lot of discussion about students who found passion through combating the policies of Republican administrations, but nothing that tackled students who questioned ...more
Jan 23, 2014 Rachel rated it liked it
Shelves: university
As a soon-to-be college student (internal screaming), I found this book a good introduction to attitudes and a few habits to foster success. It led to a lot of thinking about what I want out of my education, myself, my life.

The entire book is summarized well in the last passage:
(My notes) Don't focus on yourself (fame, short-term rewards, etc.), focus "on what you want to learn, see, do, change; what questions you have; what passions drive you—not on your own emotions or desire to be creative."
Elizabeth Theiss
May 27, 2014 Elizabeth Theiss rated it really liked it
Although this book is written for students, I've found it very useful for thinking about how I can best mentor students through their college years. While I have a passion for introducing students to the great questions facing political science, I also have a warm interest in how students develop wisdom, citizenship and a path in the world. Bain's idea of success is not high grades but rather developing a passion that motivates students to become creative and even joyful problem solvers.
Anton Frommelt
Apr 28, 2015 Anton Frommelt rated it it was ok
Good intentions, but most students didn't quite connect with the overall themes. Lots of anecdotal fluff and too many success short stories distracted from rather than amplified the important messages. A level of implicitness is great, but a certain amount of explicitness is necessary especially considering the target audience for the book. Overall, the idea is terrific as it focuses on getting the most out of education and invoking curiosity and motivation in academia rather than giving basic s ...more
Geneva Dischinger-Smedes
May 02, 2016 Geneva Dischinger-Smedes rated it it was amazing
This is a tricky review to write. I finished this book almost two years ago, and in that time I have graduated high school, taken a year off, worked three different jobs, biked across America, and finally, chose and (nearly) completed my first year of college. I have so many great things to say about the content of this book, and the author, mostly for understanding how important it was to put this out there. At the time, I picked it up at Barnes and Noble along with, How Children Succeed (Paul ...more
Apr 08, 2014 Andy rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book by Ken Bain. The main thesis of the author is that the best strategy that should rule a college student's work at college is the following: Don't seek grades at college. Seek instead holistic learning that is propelled by curiosity and a desire to find links between subjects that will lead to a fulfilling college experience, and more importantly to a life-time of learning and self-development. This will contribute positively to self and to those around us.

The inspiration for
Jeff Chamberlain
Aug 21, 2012 Jeff Chamberlain rated it it was amazing
Wonderful synthesis of research on successful learning (not just doing well in college). It reads well and is easily comprehendable (and has some soaring and profound passages), but one would benefit reading it multiple times. It emphasizes creativity, metacognition, and self-directed learning. It also celebrates the joy of learning, and how that helps one live a fulfilled life. Should be required reading for every student (and teacher).
Clara Biesel
Feb 27, 2013 Clara Biesel rated it really liked it
This book has a very strong message, advocating deep, rich learning, rather than reaching for immediate success in good grades. Though longer than perhaps necessary, the chapters are full of stories and research promoting an idea of education which changes you as a person, and which wrestles with big questions and ultimately leads to a more profitable life. Did you know Martin Luther King Jr. got a C in public speaking? Didn't stop him.
378.198 BAI

my review: before I read this book, I saw one review which says this book has not so much themes, but several loose connected strings. I really feel like this way when I read the book, but it is really writing style the author applied. When I read in details, there are definitely methods how to be a deep learner, curious, creative, critically thinking individual. Whatever the author tries to address in this book, I already figure these out myself. Chap 1 deal with how to become a deep
Neil Baer
Jan 01, 2015 Neil Baer rated it liked it
Bain's What the Best College Students Do is an interesting book built around a fairly simple idea--success in college and life comes from "deep learning". The book is composed of anecdotes from successful people that illustrate the research findings on successful learning. It is not a how-to manual, but the final chapter offers some nice advice on ways to achieve deep learning.

The most provocative advise, especially for today's students, is stop worrying about grades. Grades do not equal learni
Sep 13, 2014 Patrik rated it really liked it
Although not quite as good as Bain's What the Best College Teachers Do, this is well worth the read. Especially if you are a college student (hopefully in the beginning of your college career), but also if you are a college professor.

The bottom line of the book is that successful students are deep learners, as opposed to surface or strategic learners. Successful learners pursue true understanding (understanding for an intrinsically motivated higher purpose), rather than passing an exam or achie
Talbot Hook
Jan 24, 2016 Talbot Hook rated it liked it
I originally discovered this book with my significant other, as we discussed my younger cousin, who is soon going off to college. Almost needless to say, I purchased the book, with the intention to give it to at least three people I know who could potentially get more out of their respective undergraduate experiences. There is a certain mindset that develops in all thoughtful people who attend liberal arts colleges, and this book seeks to facilitate the creation of that mindset through anecdotes ...more
Katie Letterman
May 10, 2015 Katie Letterman rated it it was ok
Bleh. Read for a class in which I was a TA, and I had a hard time motivating myself to read this, and I was getting paid for it. So, it's safe to say very few of the students actually read it. I get what Bain set out to do here, but it was terribly repetitive, and sort of dumb, to be blunt.
Kevin Browne
Apr 29, 2015 Kevin Browne rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
This book should be required reading for every student entering college. In it, Ken Bain provides concrete tips for success and uses many examples of real students to illustrate each point. Most of the advice is not surprising; maybe it even seems obvious but judging by many of the students I teach these points need to be made and students need continuous reminding.

Among the insights he discusses the need for successful students to take ownership of their own learning. After all, learning is som
Dec 07, 2014 Ale rated it really liked it
Bain does a good job at setting up the scene for a transformative journey any college student should experience. Weaving from narrative to facts about the human brain, our psyches and, even, the meaning, purpose and potential of creativity makes for an important and useful read. The chapters are easy to digest, albeit they do cram a lot of information, which, in some cases, if the student is not familiar with something about the core concept, or if they are not interested in ensuring their full ...more
Shelby Kuzma
Aug 11, 2013 Shelby Kuzma rated it really liked it
What the Best College Students Do is a great book to read if you are entering college. The concept behind this book is that in order to get the most out of your education and your life, you must become a deep learner. It challenges many aspects of society and education that are considered normal, and uses many different experiments and surveys to prove their flaws. It is also filled with success stories of people who used a deep learning approach to their education, as well as tips on how to ga ...more
Feb 11, 2016 Charlie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: keeper-shelf
I would order a crate full of copies of this book. Bain focuses on the real factors affecting student performance. He thoughtfully explores the locus of student motivation, how students respond to difficulty, and how they maintain an open and curious mind. This is not a book about the challenges that plague education, but a careful study of what makes students successful in this complicated context. It's a great read, one I want all of my students to choose to read.
Oct 29, 2014 Mckinley rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, college
This a a compilation of theories and practices about learning and how to learn. Great pointers for college students and others interested in the process and success of thinking and learning. There are a lot of personal stories, too many for my taste (sometimes they went on too long and seemed like filler at times to pad the length of the book). The problem I had with all the stories was that instead of being inspiring they read like the extremes, the exceptions that proves the rule. So the stori ...more
Jun 07, 2015 Shane rated it really liked it
Ken Bain offers a nice summary of current thinking on learning and success in school. This text can be very useful for an ambitious students or for a parent trying to support their child. However, if you are already versed in the literature on this topic you may find that each chapter covers material that is already well argued elsewhere. For example, Chapters 4 & 6 cover failures and encouragement. I believe these topics are more easily understood in Dweck's Mindset book. Another example is ...more
Jan 06, 2015 Jeehye rated it really liked it
최고의 공부
(What the best college students do)

여기서 Best 란 어떤 의미인가?!
좋은 성적을 얻고, 훌륭한 일자리를 찾고, 부자가 된 학생?!

아니다, 최고의 공부를 한 학생이란 1) 심층적인 학습/공부를 통해 창의적이고 새로운 생각과 영역을 도출하여 인류에 이바지하고 2) 실패에 좌절하지 않고 교훈삼아 발전하는 사람으로 정의된다.

이런 정의의 범주에 속하는 실존 인물들의 학습법/인생관/업적을 중심으로 이들의 공통점과 차이점을 설명하고 있다. 그 공통점을 살펴보면 1)다독! 2)자기주도 심층혁 학습 3) 실패극복능력!에 4) 자유롭고 창의적인 사고가 생활화되어 있는 사람들

다분히 미국의 “you-can-do-it spirit”과 “work/study to die” 등의 underdog 정신이 좀 깔려있긴 하지만 새겨들은 만한 내용들이 많다. 좋은 성적을 위한 전략적 학습보다는 보다 심층적이고 다른 영역과 연결고리를 찾아 새로운 영역을 모색하고 확장해나가
Lisa Matherson
Jul 23, 2014 Lisa Matherson rated it really liked it
I read this book as a faculty member in a college of education and as the parent of a college student. It offered great insight into learning. While the anecdotal stories were enlightening, they were not of your typical students. I still advise a reading of this book because there are many points to ponder that will help one as a teacher or parent wanting to provide students with a better educational experience.
Janice Liedl
Dec 30, 2013 Janice Liedl rated it really liked it
Shelves: academic, non-fiction
An intriguing counterpoint to his earlier "What the Best College Teachers Do", this volume concentrates not on how-to-beat college advice but longer-term and more ambitious ideas of how to live a creative and fulfilling life. Peppered with interviews with captivating individuals, both famous and lesser-known, who made and are making their mark on the world, Bain's clearly interested in encouraging readers to see education and life as something more than a game for better grades. He does include ...more
Feb 12, 2015 Karen rated it liked it
This book offers insightful information on how we learn and many ways of thinking that hinder our ability to enhance our education. However, I ink some of the information is most helpful for high school students about to enter college rather than college students. Some parts can also seem a bit redundant.
Hamideh Mohammadi
Aug 27, 2014 Hamideh Mohammadi rated it really liked it
This book does not try to teach you how to make the grade, but to show you a process and viewpoint of education that leads to growth and success in life after school. What I liked about it was the notion of deep learners vs. surface and/or strategic learning.
Mary Louise Sanchez
Jan 22, 2016 Mary Louise Sanchez rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A book that makes you think about habits which make students learners rather than test takers. Even though the book is directed at students, teachers can learn much about helping students strive to be intellectually curious their entire lives.
Ashley Trevizo
The anecdotes in this book were great, however, after I finished reading it I still feel that its theory over how intentions matter more than grades in school is absurd. Personally, grades are a significant part of my education so although I liked Ken Bains' book I don't agree with the concept of the book.
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