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Here’s the number one misconception among people who just graduated from college: The think something’s seriously wrong with them if they don’t just fall right into a job. And here’s the truth: For the majority of new grads, it will take a little while. And there is nothing seriously wrong with them.

Higher Education: On Life, Landing a Job, and Everything Else They Didn’t Teach You in College by Kenneth Jedding is a book about feeling like a failure after graduation. In my experience, and the experience of other people I know, the months leaving up to your college departure are some of the most stressful of your life, and the months after you’re flung into the “real world” aren’t much better.

When I was reading this book, it made me remember all the questions and concerns I had when I was a new grad - and some that I still have from time to time.

Am I picking the right career path?

Why doesn’t anyone want to hire me?

I’m disappointing my family.

I made the wrong choices in college.

Why is everyone else finding success but me? When will it be my turn?

To be honest, I don’t think these feelings are limited to new graduates. I think we all feel like this at times, no matter how removed we are from college or high school. In this book, Jedding attempts to talk the reader through these feelings of failure.

The book is written in a very though-process orientated kind of way. It could very well be called How to Succeed After Graduation, but it isn’t written in a step-by-step fashion like most how-to books - and that’s a good thing. Jedding uses examples, both fictional and personal to him or his friends, to give readers the building blocks for understanding how to work through life after graduation. He writes advice in a way that you can plug in your own life situation and work through the same processes he uses with his samples. Whether you’re a premed student hoping to get into a good grad school, a business degree holder wanting to start your own company, or an actor hoping to make it big in Hollywood (or anything in between), you can make the advice in this book work for you.

Jedding has said to me, “I’m mystified, still, why grads continue to get Dr. Seuss as gifts and why no one else has written a good book of advice for twenty-somethings. I guess it’s because of how easy it is to pontificate or just give cliches rather than anything real…”

I don’t see Jedding’s book as a replacement for Oh, The Places You’ll Go or any other Seussian gift popular for grads. This isn’t a fluffy inspirational book. Higher Education is all about taking action, getting out of your “I’m a failure” funk. Yes, it is inspirational, but it isn’t a quick read just to make you feel better about yourself. These are real, tangible ways to see results in finding a job or fixing other life problems. It’s about action, not just about having a positive outlook on life.

I felt like much of the advice he gave was about getting your foot in the door. When he talked about finding a mentor, networking, and other related skills, I felt myself thinking, “Yes, yes, yes! Grads can really benefit from this advice. It isn’t just about posting your resume online and sitting back to wait for companies to contact you!” I feel like much of the advice Jedding gives are things I’ve done myself over the past several years since leaving college, but I did it all through trial and error, rather than having Jedding’s book to present a clearer path to success.

One of the main problems I’ve found with Jedding’s book is that it tried to cover too much information. The book starts with a huge section on career advice, followed by smaller sections on relationships, parents, and perspective. There seemed to be a bit of a disconnect between the career section and the other sections, though I do think that much of the advice on “perspective” could have been integrated into the career section to create a more comprehensive book about finding a job and getting started on the right career path. It seemed almost like the sections on relationships and parents were tacked on the end to make the book longer. I didn’t find the advice in these sections very helpful to my personal situations in life.

Another thing that bothered me was the “I know what you’re thinking…” writing style. Often, Jedding would state his advice followed by the presumed doubts the reader would think when reading it or confusion over the advice. At some points, it came off as condescending, because I already understood what he was talking about. Even when he was right, it annoyed me that the author would call me out on it. No one likes to feel like they aren’t smart, even when going to someone for advice.

There were also many, many, many points where the author would say, “we’ll talk about this more later.” In my opinion, that’s ok to say once or twice in the span of a book, but it felt like he was saying this all the time. It makes me wonder if the book couldn’t have been organized a bit better so that he could talk about topics in a manner that flowed more easily. Or, rather than continuously tell the reader that we’d be talking more about a subject later, just get the basic idea out and then expand later, referencing your past points. Frankly, he said “we’ll talk about this more later” so many times that I lost track of what we’d be talking about later. I don’t actually know if he delivered on all of his promises to discuss topics later.

Overall, I thought the book was a little lacking in the research department. I liked the “case studies” he gave, but the book is primarily advice from his own life. That’s fine, but I would have also liked to see some studies and more examples from well-known people who’ve found success (He uses Nike as an example at one point in the book - more of that!). The feeling is more like an ebook than a print book, though I understand that it makes less sense to offer this as an ebook, since it is a good gift for grads.

Should you purchase this book? If you’re feeling confused about your career options, yes. If you feel like you’re failing while all your friends are succeeding, yes. If you’re upset about the jobs available to you, yes. It can help you organize your thoughts and search for jobs with a more positive outlook, no matter what your career goals. And yes, it absolutely makes a good gift for new grads who may be feeling like they aren’t good enough. You can pick it up on Amazon today for your favorite young adult (or go ahead and treat yourself!).

Disclosure: I obtained a review copy of this book from the publisher. I was not paid for this review.

  1. [...] Review: Higher Education: On Life, Landing a Job, and Everything Else They Didn’t Teach You in… [...]

  2. [...] to read the rest of this review? Check it out in the After Graduation Article Bank! You can also head to Ken’s website to learn more. 0 [...]