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How to Win at College: Surprising Secrets for Success from the Country's Top Students

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,746 ratings  ·  147 reviews
The only guide to getting ahead once you’ve gotten in—proven strategies for making the most of your college years, based on winning secrets from the country's most successful students

What does it take to be a standout student? How can you make the most of your college years—graduate with honors, choose exciting activities, build a head-turning resume, and gain access to the beststudents
Paperback, 193 pages
Published April 12th 2005 by Three Rivers Press (first published 2005)
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Jon Hendricks The book is relatively heavily based within the culture of US colleges, but I feel like some of the more general points about how one structures their…moreThe book is relatively heavily based within the culture of US colleges, but I feel like some of the more general points about how one structures their learning would be valuable. I'd estimate about half of the points would be relevant? You may judge for yourself if that's worth it. If it's the technical stuff you want I'd really recommend Cal Newport's other book How to Become a Grade - A Student!(less)

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Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Great advice split into well-written chapters. Cal Newport made a wise choice with his concision - How to Win at College will appeal to busy college students who feel that they barely have any time to read. I appreciate how his tips ranged from social life to schoolwork to mental health; even if some topics could have been fleshed out more, students will acquire a ton of great tricks from reading this book.

Though I already considered and carry out some of his advice, I'm jotting down a list
378.198 NEW
75 rules how to do it.

1 Don't Do All of Your Reading
2 Create a Sunday Ritual (Party to until to Saturday, not Sunday. Study on Sunday, set the momentum for the rest of days. )
3 Drop Classes Every Semester. (Register extra classes, drop the least favorite)
4 Start Long-Term Projects the Day They Are Assigned. (Start small and start immediately) see rule #52
5 Make Your Bed. (a clear room create a focus mind, if has messy roommate, take care of wh
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
When it comes to non-fiction novels espousing advice, I am usually prone to skepticism. Newport's publication, though, is far more a list of tips than a long thesis on tasks college-bound students must tick off of a to-do list. Needless to say, I flew through this and thoroughly enjoyed the sparse prose, readily available to read even during the busiest of times. Recommended.
Thomas Clairmont
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this one, Cal Newport really knows what he is talking about.
Even though this book was kind of oriented for America's school system, as a foreigner I could still use most of the tips he gave to us.
Would highly recommend this book to any students who wants to become a better version of themselves.
Sep 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
3.5. The author and I differ in our organisational approach; useful tips though.
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this book because it was on Thomas Frank's list of books that he thinks should be required reading for students. After reading this book, I agree wholeheartedly with him. In fact, this book should be titled Things I Learned the Hard Way Freshman Year. It's a very simple format; it lists about forty things that you should do to "win at college" and explains each one. Some of them seem obvious, like planning ahead, others, like the time management system, are pretty genius. If you are going to college or alread ...more
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book will be useful to any student... But certainly a lot more useful to some than others. As a pre-medical student there are just certain suggestions of his that I can't follow due to the nature of my trajectory. For example, I can't ignore my GPA just to save some sanity because it has to be within a specific range for me to be considered for interviews. I also can't "just" skim my books. Not my science ones, anyway. Even if I can absorb the content fine during lecture for the test, I nee ...more
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's a very short read (finished in about two days) and there are 75 bits so it's very snackable. I'm a long-time reader of Study Hacks so a lot of the information in the book was rehashed. However, there were many gems that weren't covered in the blog. I gave it a 3 only because where the blog seemed to be targeted more towards high achieving students, there were many tips in the book targeted towards the average. However, because of the structure of the book, I was able to power through them. ...more
Þórður Atlason
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Cal writes from the perspective of an American post-graduate who’s opinion of academia is higher than of commercial success.
Regardless, there is a number of helpful, unintuitive points in the book.
My favorites are:
#73 - Start Fast, End Slow
#70 - Study With Quiz-and-Recall
#53 - Keep a Work-Progress Journal
#44 - Make friends your #1 priority
#20 - Jump into Research as Soon as Possible
#16 - Always Be Working on a “Grand Project”
#06- Apply to Ten Scho
Russell Romney
Dec 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Vague, boringly positive take on surviving at college. Despite this, it does have some great suggestions for things to do to help a student succeed. While many are good, there are several that seem to be a bit on the extreme side. As a college student, I have been trying some of them out and they've done well. There are 75 suggestions, and I narrowed them down to 32 that I could actually try to use. Of these, I've tried 9 so far and have found success with 6 of those. It's a great book if it is ...more
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read this with How to be a Straight A Student, also by same author. Excellent tips and a very fast read. The author has since gone on to get a PhD and is currently a professor in computer science. He has written two other books more recently that are also excellent.
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book's amazing, and I wish I had known about it back when I was in college. Picked it up as I'm taking a few more college-level classes before applying to grad schools, and still came away with a lot of tips. It's an extremely fast read, and doesn't sacrifice humor in its brevity. I'm already taking note to buy this (the future updated version of course) for my nephew when he goes to college. In 16 years haha.
Afreen Khalid
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help
Read this book to prepare for graduate school which starts in a week. This book is written with undergraduates in mind, but has helpful tips for students at any level. Highly recommended for anyone starting school.
Nov 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Short book, some useful advice on the college experience. A lot of top of the surface advices for undergraduates. The ones on the readings for class and note taking are pretty helpful. I got hooked by those chapters and read it hoping there would be more like them (only to be let down).

Jul 08, 2013 rated it liked it
My ratings on instructional books are mostly based on form and style rather than on content. That being said, I give this book three stars (meaning I liked it) because it is succinct, fulfilling its purpose and making it easy to annotate.

When it comes to organization, I sort of wish this book was arranged by categories rather than having all the tips conglomerated together, but I understand how that keeps the reader until the end rather than leading the reader to go through only the
I read this book after reading Newport's other study guide How to Become a Straight A Student and was looking forward to more of his easy to understand, quickly read nuggets of wisdom. Although I found the advice in his previous book to be more helpful, I did fine some words of advice that I will surely put to use in my upcoming semester.

Among the gems I found, Newport reminds students to "Study in Fifty-Minute Chunks" and "Learn to Listen." In these short chapters there are ideas to help the s
Ryan Clark
May 28, 2011 rated it liked it
This book is full of useful, succinct advice and I will definitely revisit its wisdom throughout my years as an undergraduate student.

My only qualm with the book is that it is short. It's a two hour read at best. Then again, so are most books of wisdom.

Check out Cal Newport's blog at It changed my life.
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: academic, non-fiction
Great book! I didn't get this until the end of my first year, but I read it and realized the advice is fantastic. I'm putting it into action now, in third year.
Ivan Vuković
Feb 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: miscellaneous, mind
Well written. Concise and extremely useful. Recommended!
Carter Hood
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book greatly helped me for some guidelines to follow when I enter college. While I did not read Cal Newport's book on doing well in high school, I feel it would have been just as helpful for me four years ago as this one has been for me. The book is easy to short and because it does not have a story about someone who implements each concept, it gives a plethora of useful information in less than two hundred pages.

Here are some of the points made that stuck out to me before I ent
Aroon Partha
May 12, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In "How to Win at College", Cal Newport raises quite a few interesting points regarding - as the title already states - how to win at college and become a standout student and person overall. An interesting read containing more than just the obvious advice you'd give any college student, it also suggests a few (at first) possibly counter-intuitive things. An example would be his note on networking and how most of the time students are trying to force it too hard, when usually they don't have any ...more
Al Saqib Majumder
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
The title might be attention grabbing but the content is worth the effort of turning the pages.
This book not only outlines how to be a good student, but also how to lay a successful foundation for a future career and life.
There are a total of 75 rules in the book, all of them build on the other. It is not necessary to devotedly follow all of them, the writer points that out himself, but to rather implement a few of them properly. The results will speak for themselves.
I have had to struggle ac
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pui Kim
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, non-fiction
I don't really know how to rate this book because it's my first time reading such a genre. I think that the advices here were very insightful and helpful, especially the parts on making sure that your body is well rested in order to ensure that you can perform well. The author doesn't simply just provide study tips for a student to do well, but he also provides tips and elaborates on how having a healthy body and mindset can help you to enjoy your student life. The tips were also very logical, w ...more
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's a pretty good book complementing the author's
other book - 'How to Become a Straight A Student' There are also many overlaps and a some contrary advices to the aforementioned other book. Although I feel that one could get by without reading the whole book, just the table of contents would suffice. The author has interviewed top students from across the USA to accumulate the given rules in the book. Most rules straight out oppose the popularly held beliefs and some may seem common sense. All
Mitch Flitcroft
Dec 08, 2017 rated it liked it
This book contains 75 pieces of advice for academic success, with a few pages on each one. Some are good, but most are very basic. The ones I found most useful were 7) Build study systems, 36) Exercise five days a week, 47) Seek out phenomenal achievers, and 70) Study with the quiz-and-recall method.

A general theme in this book is the importance standing out. For example, 7) Do one thing better than anyone you know, 8) Befriend a professor, 16) Always be working on a grand project, 18) Blow the
Carson Weaver
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
Cal Newport's How to Win at College is a short, concise guide to making the most of your college experience. Recommended to high school students who are about to enter an undergraduate program. It provides clear, actionable advice that will be new to most in its target audience. However, people over the age of 25 will likely find that it's not nearly as useful. An experienced adult may feel that too much of its advice is based in common sense.

Each "chapter" consists of two or three pages that d
Louis Shulman
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am a big fan of Cal Newport and regularly read his blog. It was cool to read this book and see how much he has developed as an author since he published this book in 2005. It is still well written, but after having already read Deep Work, my expectations for the author were pretty high.

The book itself was pretty useful and has a lot of specific and practical tips to improve the college experience. Many of his suggestions are counterintuitive but are well-reasoned and worth trying. I'd r
Tom McNamara
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
A nice collection of essays on the tools needed to be a successful student.

I teach college mathematics for a living. Thus, I am constantly on the look out for information that could help my students get more out of their time in school. This book has 75 short pieces on maximizing the benefit from the college experience. Tips range from ways to manage your paperwork to staying on top of your physical health. Everything is packaged in short, digestible chunks. I have a copy on my offic
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Cal Newport is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University, and the author most recently of Deep Work, a book which argues that focus is the new I.Q. in the modern workplace, and So Good They Can’t Ignore You, a book which debunks the long-held belief that “follow your passion” is good advice. He has also written three popular books of unconventional advice for students. Hi ...more
“Do some good in the world for no other reason than wanting to be part of the solution.” 28 likes
“Start small and start immediately.” 12 likes
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