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

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  2,207 ratings  ·  197 reviews
The only guide to getting ahead once youve gotten inproven 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 yearsgraduate with honors, choose exciting activities, build a head-turning resume, and gain access to the
Paperback, 193 pages
Published April 12th 2005 by Three Rivers Press
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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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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 whole room cleanup, such as dump basket,
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 of
May 04, 2020 rated it did not like it
Good grief: this might be the single most unironically cynical book I've ever read. It came up on my book recommendations because I read a number of books regarding education.

"Some students have modest ambitions. They would be happy to just land a decent job after graduation...other students pursue phenomenal dreams. They want to be a senator, start a major company, or get accepted into a world-class graduate program. As a student interested in becoming a standout, you should follow the example
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.
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 ...more
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.
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
"If you want to succed because you love the excitement of pushing your potential and exploring your world and new experiences, if you want to succeed because life is short and why not fill it with as much activity as possible, then you will win. If you approach life with an attitude of having no regrets and always having a hopeful smile on your face, you can find a measure of success in all your endeavors. Don't have no regrets, but have plenty of fun along the way. In the end, that is what is ...more
Ana-Maria Petre
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
Feeding the culture of competitivity and overachievement.
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 ...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
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
Þórður Atlason
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Cal writes from the perspective of an American post-graduate whos 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 Scholarships a Year

Some others are great.
Many others
May 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Decent. Some tips were good, others were obvious/had been mentioned before. Many tips didn't always indicate practical ways of actually accomplishing the tip (like scholarships: how should you explain yourself? what should be things you highlight? these weren't included and could've made the book more helpful). A bit dated because it came out in 2005. However, it was inspirational because of the many suggestions to be ambitious, and a number of new ways to improve efficiency.
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-2020
I really enjoy reading Cal Newport. He writes well and always backs up his statements with fascinating research. Many of the tips shared in this book have affected how I think and have prepped me for college. I have only one complaint. Seventy-five is a lot of tips and many of them could've been easily been combined into one. The book could have been a little more concise.
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.
Henry Fitzgerald
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Cal Newport shares useful insights into making the most of university life in this easily digestible book. Its flow is poor at times and not all of the 75 tips within are winners. Nonetheless one emerges from its pages a more confident student.

While half a dozen points are not relevant for students in Commonwealth countries, most of the advice bears fruit regardless of the location of one's university.

Dr Newport's most profound insight concerns attitude. If one's aim is merely to win the
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.
Heriberto M. Torres
I will be a graduate student soon, but a lot of this materialalthough primarily directed at undergradsstill applies! I wish I had read this valuable information earlier, luckily Im not to late to apply it as a graduate psychology student ...more
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.
Olivier Chabot
Dec 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Pretty solid. His tips are not universal but apply to most. Seems almost impossible to apply every tip in the book through out 1 degree. Student-life is chaotic and these tips will help.
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
As a first-year college student, I naturally gravitated towards this book. How to Win at College by Cal Newport has received many a good review, and I am honoured to add to it. Newport touches on many relevant subjects in the whole of student life as well as life itself. The book itself is written in such a manner that the information is both digestible and quick. This is not one of those nonfiction reads where every sentence the author somehow gets more and more patronizing towards the reader. ...more
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).

Wajahat Ali
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: productivity
Cal Newport's second book which I read and I think it tells some very productive techniques to study and how to perform very well overall during the four years of College.
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: productivity
I love Newport's blog and this book is an anthology of all his best posts. If anyone is looking for more academic advice go to his blog and check out the various college tags in the archives.
Pinky N.A
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I never find such an amazing self-help book like this! I am a colleague student and I think this book is one of a kind. I love it! If you're a colleague student like me, or going to be a one, or parent who need to educate their child about colleague life, then this book is the best for all of us. Definitely the best colleague book for me.
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 tips that
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
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.
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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 Cant 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. His ...more

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