Friday, December 19, 2014

Terry McMillan -- It's OK if You're Clueless and 23 More Tips for the College Bound

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

In my quest to find really easy things to review, I decided to go to several local libraries to see if they had any small, easy-to-read books.  Scanning the stacks for books that were physically small, I found this one.   It looked like a simple read, so I checked it out and brought it home.

The book is based on a commencement speech that she gave at her son’s high school graduation.  As you might have gathered from the subtitle, there are 24 pieces of advice that Ms. McMillan has to give to prospective college students.  The title refers to her advice that you don’t need to know what to major in right away.  (Chapter 11 is called “It’s OK if You’re Clueless About What to Major In.”)

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve been out of high school.  You may be wondering why I’d read this book to review it.  It hasn’t been so long that I’ve completely forgotten college.  I do remember going to classes, although I didn’t go away to college.  This is going to affect my perception of the advice given here.  Chapter 16 is called “Bring Your Dirty Laundry Home”.  This chapter wouldn’t make much sense to someone who is living at home throughout college.

Some are universal.  Chapter 9 is “Success Should Not Be Based on Fame or How Much Money You Make.”  Here, she points out that there are plenty of miserable rich people.  There are also plenty of happy people that no one knows about.

There’s one chapter on moderating alcohol intake.  It seems a little lax for a parent to not ban alcohol and drug use outright.  I’m wondering if there were some officials at her son’s high school that were having heart attacks while no one was looking, but the chapter is more an admission that alcohol will be available to college students and as a warning that going overboard with drugs is not the responsible thing to do.

It’s kind of hard to recommend such a short book that’s geared towards such a limited audience.  If I was going away to college, I don’t know that I would have bought a book like this.  Instead, I think it would have been a nice gift from someone.  It’s a quick read and while it’s not necessarily wisdom for the ages, I probably would have picked up some useful information from it.

I’m not a parent, so I don’t know how parents would view the book.  There’s one section advising students to call home frequently.  I’m wondering how many parents got this book for a child only to have them call every five minutes.  (There’s also a section advising children not to listen to their parents, but it’s meant as a warning to not let your parents relive their own glory.)

As I said, the book is short.  The version I got is only 43 pages long.  With an introduction and 24 chapters, each section will be very short.  Chapter 17 is only two sentences long.  (I call them chapters; each is a different piece of advice.)  If you have a child going away to college, I’d consider getting this book, but you might want to give it a read before you give it to them.  Chapter 17 advises students to beg for money every chance they get.

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