Reviewed by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development.
Becoming a Master Student is a must-read for all young people considering radical acceleration and/or early college entry. This book has received rave reviews from members across the gifted community.
What makes this book so valuable? Without a doubt it is the author's accomplishment of designing a book that provides diverse information focusing on whole-person development in an interactive and engaging style. This book is not just a list of study skills; it's about taking responsibility for one's learning and one's life.
Becoming a Master Student is divided into 12 sections. Each section covers useful information for high school and/or college bound young people. Although some of the topics at first may seem to be a bit out of sync for younger students who are accelerating, when viewed through a larger lens, it becomes apparent just how valuable the information is for students entering environments made up of students who have more life experience than they.
Chapter one is designed to help readers determine what it is they want to learn from the book and offers the opportunity to analyze their strengths as students and as individuals. The section on learning styles is of particular value as it helps the reader, particularly younger students, determine what types of learning experiences are likely to be the best match for them. Not only valuable as an introductory exercise, each chapter closes with a Learning Styles Application that helps the reader get the most out of the information in each section of the book.
Chapter two focuses on time management. This chapter offers student a chance to exercise self-discipline. The reader is asked to complete the "monitor-plan" process over the course of two weeks. The book includes the appropriate worksheets or the reader can access an online version via the link provided in the text. At the end of the two weeks, the reader explores a variety of "Discovery Statements" to help discern patterns of time usage. The remainder of the chapter is a collection of tips and exercises that help the reader learn how to schedule time to make the most of study time and extra-curricular and/or leisure time.
The next two chapters and the information in chapter eight helps bright young people to make the most of their strengths in the areas of memory, reading and thinking. In particular, the section on reading provides solid information on how to get the most out of textbooks -- a critical skill for students who may not be strong self-directed learners.
Chapter five provides an overview on how to take effective notes during lectures and while reading. Information about distance learning courses is also provided. Information on more formal writing is covered in chapter nine. Students who need specific instruction in how to write effective high school and/or college papers, however, will need to look elsewhere as this particular chapter is very general and, in my opinion, is the weakest in the book.
Test-taking skills are covered in chapter six. This chapter provides information on what to do before a test and what to do during a test. For younger students who may not have had experience with high-stakes testing, this chapter is extremely valuable.
Chapter seven is useful for students who are entering the world of college -- at any age. Covering information ranging from how to communicate effectively with fellow students from diverse backgrounds to identifying and reporting sexual harassment, this is a chapter that parents may wish to read and discuss with their son or daughter who is entering college early.
Chapter 10 and chapter 11 are also sections that students and parents may wish to read together as they cover the topics of relationships, money and health. Students entering residential early entrance programs may find these chapters of particular interest. Commuter students may find these sections less helpful. For students looking to strengthen their communications skills, the beginning sections of the relationship chapter are a good place to start, particular for young people who have limited experience speaking up in large classes filled with other eager students.
The book closes with a chapter titled "What's Next," which provides a structure for selecting a major, planning a career, etc. This section may be a bit overwhelming for accelerated students, however, it may serve as an effective springboard for discussion.
All in all, this is a useful "tried and true" resource. If you've had experience, good or bad, with this book, please add a comment to this record. Your opinion is of great value to others considering this resource.
This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute’s programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.
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