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Dean’s List by John Bader

March 17, 2012

I just finished this book yesterday and I LOVED it! Bader describes things that most college freshmen would do much better if they knew before reaching college. But, looking back on my four years, it didn’t hurt me to read it this late in my college career either. This book has challenged me to think and I appreciate that in a book. I have included his 11 Habits of Highly Successful College Students here, but you will have to read the book to get the full synopsis!

#1: Focus on Learning; Not on Grades

This one really challenged a foundational belief that grades determine your success in life. Anyone who believes that is slightly misguided. Bader explains that grades are mostly a measure of what the professor wants you to learn; not what you need to learn or what you actually learned.

#2: Build an Adult Relationship with Your Parents

He describes different types of students and parents and how the interactions can be healthy or unhealthy to a developing student’s career for the rest of their life.

#3: Work the System by Understanding the System

Here, he explains that you need to realize the overarching purpose of each structure before you can take advantage of it. School is not there to see how many facts you can memorize in the few hours before the test. School is designed to teach you how to think and how to learn. What you learn is nearly unimportant, because most students do not work in their major after graduation.

#4: Approach the Curriculum Like a Great Feast

His concept here is to sample what you have interests in because most people only get one shot at college. Don’t lock yourself into the precise curriculum and “easy” electives because you don’t want to put forth the extra effort.

#5: Majors and Careers are NOT the Same Thing

Again, we go back to the concept that most students do not remain in their major permanently, or sometimes at all.

#6: Don’t Just Work Hard; Work Smart!

Utilize all resources available to you and discover how to learn the material, don’t just memorize the textbook because you aren’t actually learning anything.

#7: Build Integrity to Get into Professional Schools

Bader discusses why students should or shouldn’t go back to professional school. He also explains how is the best way to do that. Hint: not by killing yourself studying the subject matter.

#8: Learn from Diversity at Home and Abroad

Bader suggests all students take advantage of opportunities to learn about other people and their differences which make them special. Learn about other cultures and other languages. Take the time to submerge yourself into alternative cultures to learn about them and apply the concepts in a global aspect to your life and career.

#9: If You Are Failing, Understand Why

Many students simply suggest they didn’t study hard enough if they fail. Bader describes at least three different reasons why students fail and do not realize or acknowledge these reasons.

#10: Cope With Failure by Rebuilding and Forgiving

He says sometimes you fail; deal with it. Move on and rise again. You can’t wallow in self-pity if you fail. Learn what went wrong and try to correct it to retry the situation, or move on and try another situation by accepting failure at the original circumstance.

#11: Plan Boldly for Life After College

Don’t sit around and wait for life to come at you. Go find it!


A truly inspirational and thought-provoking book. I suggest it to anyone looking to learn more about their college experience or to discover what to expect before hitting college.

Bader, John. Dean’s List: 11 Habits of Highly Successful College Students. (2011). Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore.


From → Book Reviews

  1. Digging this list. Will have to check out the book. I’ve been trying to read more nonfiction lately, though I may be on the tail end of this book as I’m graduating in … two months. But still, I’m in agreement with most of this list, still learning/working through the others. Thanks for sharing!

    • Glad you found the list helpful! This book absolutely blew my mind! Even though I am a senior, like you, I found it very helpful.

      The thoughts Bader provides are thought challenging because he confronts traditional, stereotypical concepts we all have about college. You would most definitely enjoy it even after you graduate! He has some advice for after school, as well. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by!

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