Zen and the Art of Navigating College: An Inquiry into the True Nature of Education and the Power of Self-Discovery

Peter Klein

Publisher: Mascot Books Pages: 224 Price: (paperback) $24.95 ISBN: 9781637555088 Reviewed: August, 2023 Author Website: Visit »

In this guide for in-coming freshmen, Klein posits college can be either an “expensive distraction” or a rewarding journey into “self-knowledge” and offers insights on getting the most out of the investment.

He advises on selecting a college (“Be smart, don’t fall for” slick sales pitches; choosing a major (“It helps if your career choice is fundamentally in sync with who you are!”); picking classes (with a chary eye for professors who are “useless” in teaching about “how the real world works;”); and forging friendships. (“The relationships you forge in college can and will be a lifeline.”)

He recommends prospective college students take aptitude and personality tests, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, to help them get a better sense of themselves before enrollment, and suggests, once enrolled, use academic, career and other advisory services to avoid drowning in daunting course loads.

Klein sports an MBA and a graduate degree in biochemistry, and bases his assertions on personal experience which he expatiates on. He amply quotes from philosophers, poets and classics, and cites research attesting that “almost 50 percent of graduating students regret their choice of major”—to underscore his belief that college should be more about self-enrichment than that first paycheck.

Unfortunately, such advice is buried in a wordy narrative that lacks relatable anecdotes from current underclassmen and often sounds like a lengthy graduation speech (“Up until the start of college, your life has been shaped and sheltered by your family…”) replete with platitudes (“There are certain truths that transcend time and the decay of civilizations”) and tautologies (“College offers you the opportunity to learn more…”). Most high schoolers will have little patience for the author’s many pontifications on life and a text that prefers sources like Carl Jung and Freud over current or recently graduated students.

Those who persevere will find some solid advice here. But fewer pearls of wisdom from elders and more from today’s college students would enhance this title.

Also available as an ebook.

Author's Current Residence
Indianapolis, Indiana
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