In our current, coronavirus-plagued world, higher education has been turned on its head with no clear timetable for righting itself. Unfortunately, Saundra Richardson Mckay’s Straight Talk for College-Bound Students and Their Parents suffers from this bad timing, lending it a dated feeling through no fault of her own. But college life will eventually return to normal, and Mckay’s manual will still have relevance for middle- and high-school students in the early planning stages.
The book is divided into two parts: one for students and one for parents. The student section includes chapters about: two- and four-year colleges; planning for college (by taking the right courses in high school, thinking about possible majors, etc.); what academic advisors do; the importance of the college catalogue; resources available on campus (such as math labs and career centers); and other random tidbits.
The much smaller parent section urges parents to address their student’s study and time-management skills, stress the importance of attitude, proper dress and other, mostly soft, skills.
Volumes the size of a phone book have been devoted to the topic of college preparation. Thus, at a scant 55 pages, this book barely skims the surface, offering a hit-and-miss mix of information. The writing is no-frills, and it can feel a little priggish in its inclusion of good manners and modest dress.
Still, the slim handbook could be useful as an overview for students who lack a helpful high school guidance counselor or a family tradition of college. It could also serve as a conversation starter between parent and child.
While most students looking for college guidance will need more comprehensive advice, Mckay’s book is a quick and easy read for those just beginning to think about college.
Also available as an ebook.