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Welcome to Preparing for College Success, an OpenStax resource. This textbook was written to increase student access to high-quality learning materials, maintaining highest standards of academic rigor at little to no cost.

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Preparing for College Success is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY) license, which means that you can distribute, remix, and build upon the content, as long as you provide attribution to OpenStax and its content contributors.

Because our books are openly licensed, you are free to use the entire book or pick and choose the sections that are most relevant to the needs of your course. Feel free to remix the content by assigning your students certain chapters and sections in your syllabus, in the order that you prefer. You can even provide a direct link in your syllabus to the sections in the web view of your book.

Instructors also have the option of creating a customized version of their OpenStax book. The custom version can be made available to students in low-cost print or digital form through their campus bookstore. Visit the Instructor Resources section of your book page on for more information.

Art Attribution in Preparing for College Success

In Preparing for College Success, most art contains attribution to its title, creator or rights holder, host platform, and license within the caption. For art that is openly licensed, anyone may reuse the art as long as they provide the same attribution to its original source. Some art has been provided through permissions and should only be used with the attribution or limitations provided in the credit. If art contains no attribution credit, it may be reused without attribution.


All OpenStax textbooks undergo a rigorous review process. However, like any professional-grade textbook, errors sometimes occur. Since our books are web based, we can make updates periodically when deemed pedagogically necessary. If you have a correction to suggest, submit it through the link on your book page on Subject matter experts review all errata suggestions. OpenStax is committed to remaining transparent about all updates, so you will also find a list of past errata changes on your book page on


You can access this textbook for free in web view or PDF through, and for a low cost in print.

About Preparing for College Success

Preparing for College Success is designed to meet the needs of college preparation courses for high school students. Because a college preparation course may vary greatly from school to school or district to district, this high school edition has been developed to provide the most flexibility possible for course coordinators and teachers. The open license and multiple formats provide many opportunities to tailor the material to meet classroom or program-specific needs.

The basis for this high school edition, College Success and College Success Concise, addresses the evolving challenges and opportunities of today's diverse students. The intensive development work leveraged expertise from hundreds of FYE coordinators and faculty across the country. In particular, this high school version was crafted with the input of high school teachers who have offered a course on preparing students to apply and go to college after graduation. The topics have been carefully chosen to prioritize the most critical topics in helping students prepare for the expectations and opportunities of college, and the authors have organized them to create a logical and reinforcing flow. While the content mirrors the College Success Concise book, this version includes a chapter on researching the best options after high school and applying to college. Users will see distinctive additions in certain areas, such as a new section on group work and greatly expanded coverage of stress, social media, and wellbeing. All of this content provides high school teachers the opportunity to prepare their students to research postsecondary pathways and make an informed decision about where to attend. This high school edition also gives students an introduction to the mindsets, behaviors, habits, and strategies they need to be successful throughout their entire college career.

While some content was removed in creating this derivative, our open license and platform allow instructors and students to reliably utilize content from the original College Success text. As with all of our books, instructors can link to individual textbook sections or utilize the various means of customization.

Preparing for College Success shares the vision and approach of the original textbook, and is rooted in core values of motivation, growth mindset, student support, and equity. The material highlights resources available to students as they embark on new roads of independence and responsibility. Within the chapters, students are given the opportunity to engage in self-analysis and reflection in order to understand their strengths, challenges, and aptitudes. Faculty and students will see the following consistent themes and approaches:

Student engagement and self-analysis are reflected in each section through applications and activities.

The diversity and intersectionality of students were considered in every example, context, and application, and the text's active surveys and detailed profiles make student voices a key element of the reading.

Interconnected topics are acknowledged and built upon, demonstrating that no element of college learning and growth occurs in isolation. The result is a cumulative, more complete understanding, which better prepares students to meet the multi-dimensional challenges of higher education.

Openly licensed and free in all digital formats, the text provides unparalleled flexibility in its use, customization, and accessibility for faculty and students. The book is provided at no cost in online, PDF, and other formats. It is also available in print for a very low price.

Robust instructor ancillaries will support faculty and course designers with teaching notes, additional exercises, worksheet versions of the in-text activities, lecture slides, and assessment items.


  • Student Profiles: The voices of real students inform every chapter. These students grapple with the same concepts, from improving study skills to embracing diversity, and through their experiences and successes we share important stories.
  • Get Connected: Apps, websites, and technology that our experts recommend to help students face the challenges of college, develop critical academic and professional skills, and increase their overall success.
  • Analysis and Applications: Peppered through every chapter are opportunities for students to reflect on concepts, try out processes, and apply what they're learning.
  • Student Surveys: Chapters begin with a survey, posing questions that will get readers engaged in considering their own level of connection and understanding of the chapter's concept, from time management to personal finance to career planning.
  • Student Stories: Each chapter opens with a character-driven story about one of three different students. These stories provide a glimpse into the complexity of emotions, behaviors, mindsets, and decisions they will make.
  • The Real Deal: This feature offers advice and words of encouragement from college students about how to transition to college successfully. Real students were asked to tell their high school selves what they wished they'd known; these are the words of wisdom learned from their experiences.
  • Friends & Family Matter: A character-driven scenario is introduced in which a student is faced with making a choice. Readers are asked to think critically about the situation and to talk through the decision with friends and family.
  • Checking In: Your College Readiness Checklist: This feature offers a four-year, term-by-term checklist for students to track the tasks necessary for meeting college readiness standards and for applying to college.
  • Summary & Next Steps for College Success: A summary of the chapter’s main points comes at the end of each chapter and includes a checklist for what to do when they are in college.

Estimated Module Completion Time

Each section of Preparing for College Success includes an estimate of the average time needed to read through the material and work on the activities and applications. Each student will engage the material differently, and faculty will likely prioritize or assign certain components over others. As a result, the actual time students spend will vary greatly. OpenStax will periodically update these estimates based on user feedback.

Answers to Questions in the Book

Answers to the "Questions to Consider" questions are not provided to students due to the high variability of responses. The Instructor's Manual on the Instructor Resources page provides additional insight to assist in discussion about these questions. There is also a Test Bank of questions and answers only available to the instructor.

Additional Resources

Student and Instructor Resources

We've compiled additional resources for both students and instructors, including Getting Started Guides, lecture slides, and a Test Bank.

The most robust of these is the Instructor Resource Manual, developed by author Amy Baldwin based on extensive experience and requests from faculty reviewers and survey respondents. For each chapter, the IRM will contain:

  • Detailed teaching suggestions
  • Bloom's Taxonomy matrix, indicating the alignment of each chapter activity and application to the level of Bloom's it fulfills.
  • Overarching “big picture” questions from the chapter
  • Topical and cumulative case scenario activities, which present a realistic situation based on the concepts, and ask students to respond via writing or another method. These may be adapted and assigned by instructors.

Instructor resources require a verified instructor account, which you can apply for when you log in or create your account on Instructor and student resources are typically available within a few months after the book's initial publication. Take advantage of these resources to supplement your OpenStax book.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity builds trust, understanding, equity, and genuine learning. While students may encounter significant challenges in their courses and their lives, doing their own work and maintaining a high degree of authenticity will result in meaningful outcomes that will extend far beyond their college career. Faculty, administrators, resource providers, and students should work together to maintain a fair and positive experience.

We realize that students benefit when academic integrity ground rules are established early in the course. To that end, OpenStax has created an interactive to aid with academic integrity discussions in your course.

A graphic divides ten items into three categories. The items "Your Original Work" and "Quoting & Crediting Another's Work" are in the "Approved" category. The items "Checking Your Answers Online", "Group Work", "Reusing Past Original Work", "Sharing Answers", and "Artificial Intelligence, Chatbot Apps" are in the "Ask Instructor" category. The items "Posting Questions & Answers", "Plagiarizing Work", and "Getting Others to Do Your Work" are in the "Not Approved" Category.
Figure 1 attribution: Copyright Rice University, OpenStax, under CC BY 4.0 license

Visit our academic integrity slider. Click and drag icons along the continuum to align these practices with your institution and course policies. You may then include the graphic on your syllabus, present it in your first course meeting, or create a handout for students.

At OpenStax we are also developing resources supporting authentic learning experiences and assessment. Please visit this book’s page for updates. For an in-depth review of academic integrity strategies, we highly recommend visiting the International Center of Academic Integrity (ICAI) website at

Community Hubs

OpenStax partners with the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) to offer Community Hubs on OER Commons—a platform for instructors to share community-created resources that support OpenStax books, free of charge. Through our Community Hubs, instructors can upload their own materials or download resources to use in their own courses, including additional ancillaries, teaching material, multimedia, and relevant course content. We encourage instructors to join the hubs for the subjects most relevant to your teaching and research as an opportunity both to enrich your courses and to engage with other faculty.

To reach the Community Hubs, visit

Technology Partners

As allies in making high-quality learning materials accessible, our technology partners offer optional low-cost tools that are integrated with OpenStax books. To access the technology options for your text, visit your book page on

About the Authors

Senior Contributing Author

Amy Baldwin, University of Central Arkansas

Amy Baldwin has dedicated her entire career to supporting students in their successful transition to college. She wrote the first, groundbreaking student success textbook for community colleges and for first-generation students. After 18 years as an award-winning community college professor, she now serves as Director of the Department of Student Transitions at the University of Central Arkansas. This unique blend of experience provides perspective on two critical student and faculty populations, which she has brought to this book as well as her extensive work with Complete College America, Achieving the Dream, and the Developmental Education Initiative.

Amy and her husband Kyle live in Arkansas and have two children, Emily and Will.

Contributing Authors

Lisa August, Canisius College
James Bennett, Herzing University
Larry Buland, Metropolitan Community College
Jill Kaar, University of Colorado
Sabrina Mathues, Brookdale Community College
Susan Monroe, Northern Virginia Community College
MJ O'Leary, WellnessMultiplied
Ann Pearson, San Jacinto College
Joshua Troesh, El Camino College
Margit Misangyi Watts, University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Julia Byrd, Essay Coach


Nagash Clarke, Washtenaw Community College
Laura Crisp, Pellissippi State Community College
Abbie Finnegan, Des Moines Area Community College
Kim Fragopoulos, University of Massachusetts-Boston
Maria Galyon, Jefferson Community & Technical College
Kimberly A. Griffith, Bristol Community College
Anna Howell, Portland Community College
Sarah Howard, The Ohio State University
Stacy L. Hurley, Baltimore County Community College
Dawn Lee, Charleston Southern University
Gail Malone, South Plains College
Kim Martin, Chemeketa Community College
Sherri Powell, Shawnee State University
Bobby E. Roberts, Jr., Savannah State University
Laila M. Shishineh, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Shavecca M. Snead, Albany State University
Jason Smethers, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Angela C. Thering, SUNY Buffalo State
Antione D. Tomlin, Anne Arundel Community College
Jessica Traylor, Gordon State College
Makeda K. Turner, University of Michigan
Dave Urso, Blue Ridge Community College
Margit Misangyi Watts, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Ann Wolf, New Mexico Highlands University

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© Sep 20, 2023 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License . The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.