Kickstarting Your Academic Career: Skills to Succeed in the Social Sciences

Kickstarting Your Academic Career: Skills to Succeed in the Social Sciences

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By Robert L. Ostergard, Jr. and Stacy B. Fisher
University of Toronto Press, Higher Education Division © 2017
World Rights
144 Pages
ISBN 9781442635616
Published Feb 2017
ISBN 9781442635623
Published Feb 2017
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442635630
Published Feb 2017
Full purchase $13.95
ebook (PDF format)
ISBN 9781442635647
Published Feb 2017
Full purchase $13.95
Kickstarting Your Academic Career is a primer on the common scholastic demands that social sciences students face upon entering college or university. Based on the challenges that instructors most often find students need help with, the authors offer practical advice and tips on topics such as how to communicate with instructors, take notes, read a textbook, research and write papers, and write successful exams. The succinct writing and clear organization make this an essential reference for first-year students as they encounter post-secondary work for the first time, and a useful refresher for upper-year students looking to refine their skills.
Robert L. Ostergard, Jr. is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Stacy B. Fisher is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Nevada, Reno (retired).


Why Am I Here? From High School to College or University
How to Use This Book for Students
How to Use This Book for Professors

1. Where to Start? The Basics of the Classroom
What to Expect from This Chapter

The Syllabus—The Rules of the Game
Course Management Systems
Professional Etiquette with Your Professor and Teaching Assistants
Course Information in the Syllabus

Large Class Dynamics
Strengths and Weaknesses of Large Classes
What to Expect in a Large Class
Large Lecture Hall Etiquette
Professors, Assistants, and the Large Lectures
Students and the Large Lecture Hall

Smaller Classes and Tutorials, Sections, or Labs
What to Expect in a Small Class
Course Discussions and Participation
Guidelines for Good Discussion

Revisiting the Lecture

Important Points to Remember
How to Succeed in College Courses
In a Large Class
In a Small Class

2. So You Thought You Knew How to Read? Readings and Notes for Class

How Often to Read
How to Read and Take Notes from a Textbook
Steps to Studying a Textbook
Supplemental Texts and Journal Articles

Note Taking in Classes
Preparing to Take Notes
What Am I Supposed to Write Down?
How Am I Supposed to Write It Down?

Important Points to Remember
Taking Notes in Class

3. On the Midterm Grind

The Professor Gave You a Study Guide—Lucky You! Or Not...

Study Groups

Types of Exams and Strategies for Each
Multiple Guess (Choice) Exams—Being Better than Chance
Identification and Short Answers
Essays—The Demon Spawn Rears Its Ugly Head

Getting Your Grade
Taking Charge of Your Education

Important Points to Remember
How to Succeed on Exams
Getting Your Grade

4. Finding Your Curiosity and Research Zen: Skills and the Projects That Build Them

Finding Your Curiosity and Research Zen

Class Projects: Their Purposes and Some Helpful Suggestions
Research Projects
Summaries, Critiques, and Literature Reviews
Group Projects
Simulations and Virtual Experiences
Oral Presentations

Important Points to Remember

5. Can You Google That?

Where to Find Information

Finding Data

How to (and How Not to) Find Information

Can You Google That?

How Authoritative Are Your Sources?

What to Do with Your Information: Writing, Organizing, and Common Mistakes
Multitasking: Something We Are Horrible at Doing
Extracting Information
Bibliographic Software
Suggestions for Avoiding Plagiarism
Outlining a Plan for Your Writing
Writing Your Project
Editing Your Project

Research and Crunch Time

Important Points to Remember


This book is an excellent guide to helping students navigate their new academic environment and expectations. From understanding professors to decoding social science research, this text provides solid advice that is easy to understand but does not underestimate a student's intelligence.

Dan Friedman, University of South Carolina

A guidebook for first-year students that effectively focuses on the basics they need to know sooner rather than later. This is the kind of resource that can make a big difference to students when they transition out of high school.

Victor Asal, University at Albany, SUNY

Kickstarting Your Academic Career explains how courses work at college and university, and provides concrete strategies for students to be successful. Best of all, the authors strike a great tone throughout—kind of like an older sibling explaining what it's really like after high school.

Kerry Greer, University of British Columbia