Decades ago, when Jeremy Hyman was a teacher’s assistant at UCLA, he was overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of bodies in the lecture hall — 200, sometimes 400, students looking down at the professor.
There was just no time for one-on-one meetings, so he frequently created one-page “tip lists” for the entire class: “Ten tips for working on a paper” or “Ten tips for visiting the professor.”
And about seven years ago — after teaching philosophy at MIT, Princeton and the University of Arkansas — Hyman came across the lists in a dusty manila folder. “What should I do with these,” he asked his wife, fellow professor Lynn Jacobs. “Find a publisher,” she said. And in 2006 the couple co-authored The Professors’ Guide to Getting Good Grades in College.
The sequel, The Secrets of College Success, hit bookstores this summer. And Hyman promises a punchier product with quicker bites of advice.
“We wanted to bring to this book what we know from teaching every day. Students are more and more on a vastly different attention span than professors,” says Hyman. “So we crafted the advice in shorter bursts and tried to directly engage the student.”
The book is packed full of checklists for almost any academic situation, from meeting with the professor to final exams. “It’s important to us that the quality and tone of the advice is not threatening. But that’s a real challenge, because it can’t be dry or boring either.”