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The First-Year Experience

  • Lessons from Plants
  • The Privileged Poor
  • What the Best College Students Do
  • Make It Stick
  • Unflattening

A select list of books for first-year college students and those who teach them.

Author - Editorial Staff

Date - 9 November 2023

Time to read - 1 min

  • Lessons from Plants

    Lessons from Plants

    Beronda L. Montgomery

    An exploration of how plant behavior and adaptation offer valuable insights for human thriving.

    We know that plants are important. They maintain the atmosphere by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. They nourish other living organisms and supply psychological benefits to humans as well, improving our moods and beautifying the landscape around us. But plants don’t just passively p...

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  • The Privileged Poor

    The Privileged Poor

    How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students

    Anthony Abraham Jack

    An NPR Favorite Book of the Year

    “Breaks new ground on social and educational questions of great import.”
    —Washington Post

    “An essential work, humane and candid, that challenges and expands our understanding of the lives of contemporary college students.”
    —Paul Tough, author of Helping Children Succeed

    “Eye-opening…Brings home the pain and reality of on-campus poverty an...

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  • What the Best College Students Do

    What the Best College Students Do

    Ken Bain

    “The ‘best’ students are curious risk-takers who make connections across disciplines. By following those instincts—rather than simply chasing ‘success’—the best students achieved it…A wonderful exploration of excellence.”—Fortune

    “Skillfully weaves together some of the best research about effective learning strategies with moving stories about remarkable life-long learners. Some of them had...

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  • Make It Stick

    Make It Stick

    The Science of Successful Learning

    Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel

    To most of us, learning something “the hard way” implies wasted time and effort. Good teaching, we believe, should be creatively tailored to the different learning styles of students and should use strategies that make learning easier. Make It Stick turns fashionable ideas like these on their head. Drawing on recent discoveries in cognitive psychology and other disciplines, the authors offer concr...

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  • Unflattening


    Nick Sousanis

    The primacy of words over images has deep roots in Western culture. But what if the two are inextricably linked, equal partners in meaning-making? Written and drawn entirely as comics, Unflattening is an experiment in visual thinking. Nick Sousanis defies conventional forms of scholarly discourse to offer readers both a stunning work of graphic art and a serious inquiry into the ways humans constr...

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  • Racism in America

    Racism in America

    A Reader

    Racism in America has been the subject of serious scholarship for decades. At Harvard University Press, we’ve had the honor of publishing some of the most influential books on the subject. The excerpts in this volume—culled from works of history, law, sociology, medicine, economics, critical theory, philosophy, art, and literature—are an invitation to understand anti-Black racism through the eyes...

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  • Why We Act

    Why We Act

    Turning Bystanders into Moral Rebels

    Catherine A. Sanderson

    A Washington Post Book of the Year

    “Makes a powerful argument for building, as early as possible, the ability to stand up for what's right in the face of peer pressure, corrupt authority, and even family apathy.”
    —Psychology Today

    Why do so few of us intervene when we’re needed—and what would it take to make us step up? We are bombarded every day by reports of bad behavior, from t...

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  • Poems of the First Buddhist Women

    Poems of the First Buddhist Women

    A Translation of the Therigatha

    Charles Hallisey

    A stunning modern translation of a Buddhist classic that is also one of the oldest literary texts in the world written by women.

    The Therīgāthā is one of the oldest surviving literatures by women, composed more than two millennia ago and originally collected as part of the Pali canon of Buddhist scripture. These poems were written by some of the first Buddhist women—therīs—honored for their...

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  • Making the Most of College

    Making the Most of College

    Students Speak Their Minds

    Richard J. Light

    Why do some students make the most of college, while others struggle and look back on years of missed deadlines and missed opportunities? What choices can students make, and what can teachers and university leaders do, to improve more students’ experiences and help them achieve the most from their time and money? Most important, how is the increasing diversity on campus—cultural, racial, and...

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  • What the Best College Teachers Do

    What the Best College Teachers Do

    Ken Bain

    What makes a great teacher great? Who are the professors students remember long after graduation? This book, the conclusion of a fifteen-year study of nearly one hundred college teachers in a wide variety of fields and universities, offers valuable answers for all educators.

    The short answer is—it’s not what teachers do, it’s what they understand. Lesson plans and lecture notes matter less...

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  • The Joy of Consent

    The Joy of Consent

    A Philosophy of Good Sex

    Manon Garcia

    “From the bedroom to the classroom to the courtroom, ‘consent’ is a key term in our contemporary sexual ethics. In this timely reexamination, Manon Garcia deftly reveals the hidden complexities of consent and proposes how to reconceptualize it as a tool of liberation.”
    —Amia Srinivasan, author of The Right to Sex

    A feminist philosopher argues that consent is not only a highly imperfect l...

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  • The College Administrator’s Survival Guide

    The College Administrator’s Survival Guide

    Revised Edition

    C. K. Gunsalus

    The book that every dean and department chair needs to survive—and thrive—in the twenty-first-century university.

    First released in 2006, The College Administrator’s Survival Guide has served as the bible for a generation of provosts, deans, department chairs, and program directors. Shrewd administrators have returned to the guide time and again for C. K. Gunsalus’s advice on handling compl...

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