Black College Student Survival Guide. – book reviews - Higher Education


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Black College Student Survival Guide. – book reviews

by Jamilah Evelyn

With retention rates for Black college students hovering well below
the 50 percent mark at many campuses across the country, an audit —
conducted with a fine-toothed comb — of the factors that lead to the
success or failure of a student would be right on time. A “how-to
manual,” of sorts — written specifically with Black college students
in mind, and chock full of helpful hints and wise insights from those
who have already chartered the path and overcome the obstacles — is
just what some Black youths may need to make it through the
undergraduate experience.

Jawanza Kunjufu attempts to create exactly this type of manual in
his latest book, Black College Students in mind, and chock full of
helpful hints and wise insights from those who have already chartered
the path and overcome the obstacles — is just what some Black youths
may need to make it through the undergraduate experience.

Jawanza Kunjufu attempts to create exactly this type of manual in
his latest book. Black College Students Survival Guide. And while he
should e applauded for the effort he has directed toward shepherding
our youth through some very trying years, his less-than-eloquent prose
and trite lectures just don’t make the grade.

This is not to say that college and pre-college students who choose
to peruse the manual will find it void of serviceable material. Kunjufu
does a good job of breaking down the process of selecting a college. He
also thoroughly presents the pros and cons of going to a public or
private school, the benefits associated with attending a historically
Black institution versus a traditionally White one, and the respective
merits of two-year and four-year colleges.

The guide offers some useful study tips, such as forming
partnerships with students in your classes and major, forming study
groups, and engaging in intellectually stimulating conversations with
students who have similar interests. This is all good advice,
considering the reputed advantages of the study buddy system and the
benefits of networking with successful peers.

Kunjufu also emphasizes the important of effective time management
and faithful class attendance. Here, however, is where the value in the
book ends.

Paramount to the strength of any good book is a good editor.
Kunjufu’s is noticeably missing. Appreciable grammatical and/or
typographical mistakes abound, rendering what could have been effective
discourse impotent. An egregious example occurs on page 53 of the
manual, where the author writes:

“How unfortunate, that college students who are suppose to be literate…”

The real misfortune here is that Kunjufu’s editors failed to insert the “d” in supposed.

Kunjufu also over uses anecdotal evidence, sometimes base on real
and sometimes fictitious college students, as an all-inclusive
reference to Black student behavior. The bad habits of a few are
treated as wide-spread conduct. While indeed, many of our most talented
youth may get high, party too much, and fall prey to poor
money-management skills, Kunjufu implies that these are the sole
factors that account for Black college dropouts.

The book also is deficient in advice for students trying to succeed
at colleges that do not have sufficient outreach programs, advisors, or
financial support for underprivileged students.

The resulting text reads like a long lecture from a condescending
adult who doesn’t bother to listen to the real concerns of a child.

Alas, Kunjufu’s Survival Guide will probably not become a Black
college student’s bible partly because of his use of sweeping
generalizations and parental-style reprimands — a poor choice of style
given the target audience’s likely aversion to such rewarmed reproach.
It is further thwarted by the book’s abundance of grammatical blunders,
which are conspicuously shabby for an educational guide.

Nevertheless, the book is not completely without merit. Parents and
guidance counselors who are thinking about referring the Survival Guide
to a college-bound kid might consider placing it at the bottom of a
care package topped with a good dictionary, a few home-baked snacks,
and a reminded that there is no definitive guide to making it through
the college years.

COPYRIGHT 1998 Cox, Matthews & Associates



© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com

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