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University Success

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University Success cover is used under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence (

Description: University Success has a student-friendly format arranged to help you develop the essential skills and provide the information you need to succeed in university. This is not a textbook full of theory and extensive detail that merely discusses student success; rather, this is a how-to manual for your first year of study. The book provides realistic, practical guidance ranging from study skills to personal health, from test taking to managing time and money. Furthermore, University Success is accessible—information is presented concisely and as simply as possible. University Success has the following features to help you achieve your goals: Each chapter asks you to evaluate yourself because success starts with recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, your hopes and desires, and your own personal, individual realities. You’ll develop your own goals based on these self-assessments, determining what success in college really means for you as an individual. Throughout the book, you will find numerous interactive activities created to help you improve your skills. To assist you with this, the material is presented in easily digestible “chunks” of information so you can begin applying it immediately in your own life—and get the most out of your university education.

Author: N. Mahoney, B. Klassen, M. D'Eon

Original source:

Adoption (faculty): Contact us if you are using this textbook in your course

Adaptations: Support for adapting an open textbook

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1. Reviewed by: katya pereyaslavska
  • Institution: University of Toronto
  • Title/Position: Accessibility & Online Learning Librarian
  • Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5
  • Date:
  • License: Creative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

This text provides much needed critical information to support student transition from high school into first year college or university setting. It addresses how academic performance is evaluated and provides work life balance tips, among other useful information. The book has a logical structure with detailed table of contents and provides definitions to new concepts or words. Much of student success in a university or a college depends on knowing what to expect so this text does a pretty great job in managing these expectations.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

This material was adopted from the original publication in the US so the first thing that really leaps out is the fact that its authors have done search and replace for colleges with the word universities.

Sentence like this in 1.1 flags this issue: “The Strong Interest Inventory is such an assessment tool used by many universities and universities.” or “As first-year students, usually living on campus at a four-year university or university.” (1.2)

Section (2.1) deals with success. I feel really weird about this section, I don’t think we can say that without defining what we mean by “successful”, it's not the culture we should foster in higher education. We should foster peer support not alienation and competitive behaviour. Here are some excerpts which I feel uncomfortable with"

"Imitate successful people. Does a friend always seem better able to stick with studying or work until they get it done? What are they doing that you’re not? We all learn from observing others, and we can speed up that process by deliberately using the same strategies we see working with others. Visualize yourself studying in the same way and getting that same high grade on the test or paper."

"Separate yourself from unsuccessful people. This is the flip side of imitating successful people. If a roommate or a friend is always putting off things until the last minute or is distracted with other interests and activities, tell yourself how different you are. When you hear other students complaining about how hard a class is or bragging about not studying or attending class, visualize yourself as not being like them at all."


As seen in (1.4), some sections lean towards being a bit prescriptive. If a student has a medical appointment or a mobility issue and is late for a class, it should not cause them undue distress to arrive late. Sections like 1.4 should be rewarded:

“Arriving to class promptly is also important. Walking into a class that has already begun is rude to the instructor (remember what we said earlier about the impression you may be making) and to other students. A mature student respects the instructor and other students and in turn receives respect back.”

Content Accuracy Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

Most of the content presented in this text is fairly general and can stand the test of time in terms of its currency.

There are some unfounded statements such as in chapter 1 which should have more literature backing them up:

“And they are correct that university pays off enormously in terms of future earnings, job security and stability, and job satisfaction.Every statistic shows that people with a university education will make much more in their lifetime on average (much, much more than the cost of university itself) and be much happier with the work they do.”

Statements like these are very politically charged as a lot of students are graduating and struggling finding jobs as the market is becoming more and more competitive. I would be careful from using this book to guarantee success, I would say it can lead to success. Given the current job market I would say that statements like this date this material.

Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

From a design point of view, it is helpful to have learning objectives clearly outlined at the beginning of each chapter. The language used in this text is simple and easy to understand. Well targeted for its audience.

Clarity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

This material has consistency of voice throughout.

Consistency Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

Great structure, easy to read a chunk or section at a time.

Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

Yes indeed, the topics progress in a logical order providing readers a deeper dive into academic environment as a student.

Organization Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

I have not tested this text to see if the images are tagged but otherwise its easy to navigate. The only comment i have is that due to its length the drop down table of contents is hard to deal with.

Interface Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

I have not noticed any errors aside from the following

Extra word, (1.2) “Having children of your own means you have different priorities from most some students…”

It feels like a search and replace for colleges was performed throughout this text to replace with word “universities”. Sentence like this in 1.1 flags this issue: “The Strong Interest Inventory is such an assessment tool used by many universities and universities.” or “As first-year students, usually living on campus at a four-year university or university.” (1.2)

Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

I found it was very helpful to address the varying groups of students who attend university. For an incoming student it would help to create a greater sense of context, from varying cultures to young and mature students.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

Sorry, caught one more typo:

(2.2) Typo: Physical space reinforces habits. For example, using your bed primarily for sleeping makes it easier to fall asleep there than elsewhere and also makes it a poor good place to try to stay awake and alert for studying.

Book description indicates that this material was adopted from a book with a focus on colleges in the US context. In Canada there is a different relationship between colleges and universities and the two are not used interchangeably and mean different things. The book description contains a typo which needs editing referring to this text on universities being designed to help students succeed in colleges (lower to the end - “determining what success in college really means”).

The title of this book should point to undergraduate education, first university or college degree demographic - the title is broad but content is very focused on students transitioning from high school to university.