How College Works

By Nuttall, Chad C. | The Canadian Journal of Higher Education, September 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

How College Works


Nuttall, Chad C., The Canadian Journal of Higher Education


Chambliss, Daniel F. & Takacs, Christopher G. (2014). How College Works. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Pages: 224. Price: 29.95 USD (hardcover). ISBN 978-0-674-04902-4

How College Works. Perhaps I can suggest an alternative title to authors Daniel Cham-bliss and Christopher Takacs: How College Works Very Well. Chambliss is a professor of sociology at Hamilton College, with research interests in social theory, organizations, and research methods. Takacs is a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Chicago, although he studied previously at Hamilton College and was a research assistant in the study that gave rise to this book. How College Works describes life at this small liberal arts college in upstate New York. Although idyllic in setting, selective, and elite in stature, Hamilton College does not appear to be particular extraordinary. Aside from the nine-to-one student-faculty ratio, life on campus is depicted as being what one would expect at many small, liberal arts colleges. The book focuses on the phases in students' paths through their years in college: Entering, Choosing, Engagement, Belonging, Learning, and Finishing.

The central argument of the book is reflected perfectly in the closing sentence of the book's introduction: "What really matters in college is who meets whom, and when" (p. 16). Faculty who think they are at the centre of students' success at university, or a student affairs professional who has been developing a suite of skills workshops, will be equally dismayed at the authors' findings. What matters most to students transitioning to higher education is developing friendships. To those familiar with students, this should not be a surprise. However, the impact is the simplicity of the book's argument. Colleges are not simply about programs, but more importantly are a gathering of people. The authors assert that, "good people, brought together in the right ways, we suspect are both necessary and perhaps even sufficient to create a good college" (p. 5). Underlying the authors' argument is that integration into the community is crucial to students being retained by the university. The authors provide plenty of evidence from their project to show just how important relationships are to student success.

The authors continually emphasize how important it is for students to find friendships- particularly in the first few weeks of their first term. Ultimately, the authors argue that students need relationships with two to three good friends and one to two professors. While the findings may seem simple common sense, this is a rigorous case study with multiple and mixed methodologies. Although a single-institution case study, this project spanned more than a decade and included alumni interviews, repeated longitudinal interviews over a 10-year period, a survey, a student writing study (using over 1,000 student essays), focus groups, and more!

The authors put particular stock in initiatives that are high impact with relatively few resources. They also found that the most successful way for students to engage with the campus community is through groups of 40-80 students who have regular meetings that are semi-mandatory. A wide variety of activities meet these criteria and still allow for individual student interest. Examples the authors present include a choir, a sports team, a fraternity, or a floor in residence.To remain and thrive at college, students need to make friends quickly. Meeting fellow students and developing relationships is central to the winning strategy at Hamilton College. Also important is having terrific teachers, particularly those whom students view as exciting, knowledgeable, accessible, and-most importantly-engaging. The researchers found that successful students, with high GPAs, all had at least one faculty relationship.

In a time of enforcing standards and education reforms, the authors present an interesting argument in Chapter 4, "The Arithmetic of Engagement. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

How College Works
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.