Quite simply, adopting On Course improves student academic success and retention. Each year, more than 100,000 students benefit from On Course. Read Compelling Data from some of the 500+ colleges and universities that use On Course to improve the academic outcomes and retention of their students by as much as 27%.


Why is On Course such a powerful intervention for improving student success? Before students can succeed in college, they need to become active and responsible partners in their own education. Also, many students need to master the challenges and conflicting priorities of their complicated lives, including jobs, finances, relationships, children, and personal problems. In addition to presenting essential study skills, On Course offers students the opportunity to learn essential behaviors, beliefs, and skills for creating success in college and in life. And it does so in a way that is unlike any other student success book.


On Course empowers students to take control of their lives by helping them apply eight essential success principles to their important decisions. First they read about these time-tested principles; then they apply them to their own academic and personal lives through the writing of guided journals. These success principles include:

  • Accepting Self-Responsibility
  • Discovering Self-Motivation
  • Mastering Self-Management
  • Employing Interdependence
  • Gaining Self-Awareness
  • Adopting Life-Long Learning and Critical Thinking
  • Developing Emotional Intelligence
  • Believing in Yourself

Imagine working with students who have adopted these eight principles…what a difference!


In addition to providing short, engaging articles about the eight success principles above, On Course offers students…

Compass Blue …a comprehensive self-assessment of non-cognitive skills. This self-assessment enables students to determine their personal strengths and weaknesses at the beginning of the course; taken again at the end of the course, the self-assessment shows students how they have changed for the better.
Compass Green …the CORE Learning System. Applying the latest discoveries from brain and learning research, the CORE Learning System provides students with the four behaviors that are essential for learning any information or skill.
Compass Red …critical thinking skills. Approaches for developing logical and analytical thinking prepare students to apply these skills in their academic, personal and professional lives.
Compass Yellow …case studies in critical thinking. Stories of real-life situations generate spirited discussions and offer students a chance to apply critical thinking skills to their exploration of key success principles such as self-responsibility, self-motivation, and self-management.
Compass Blue …cultural awareness. Woven throughout the text is information to help students successfully negotiate their experiences with the unique and challenging culture of higher education as well as respecting and working effectively with the people from diverse world cultures they will encounter in college and in life.
Compass Green …effective study strategies. Students learn more than 150 proven techniques for improving their academic success in college, including sections on Reading, Taking Notes, Organizing Study Materials, Rehearsing and Memorizing Study Materials, Taking Tests, and Writing. In the Study Skills Plus edition of On Course, students are offered additional study skills, more examples of employing study skills, and activities to practice the skills.
Compass Red …guided journal writing. Students apply what they are learning to their lives by reflecting on and applying success skills to their personal situation. With thirty-two journal entries in the text, students have an opportunity for extensive practice in writing.
Compass Yellow …learning preference inventory. A learning preference self-assessment gives students a valuable understanding of how they prefer to learn; importantly they discover specific strategies for succeeding in a course when the instructor doesn’t teach the way they prefer to learn.
Compass Blue …stress control and money management. Stress and financial problems are significant contributors to high attrition among first-year students. Learning to manage stress and money problems greatly enhances students’ ability to persevere in higher education.
Compass Green …workplace applications. Students learn how the eight On Course Principles, called “soft skills” in the the work world, will help them excel in their careers. These are the same skills mentioned in the US Secretary of Labor’s SCANS report and the Conference Board of Canada’s report about the essential abilities that employers require of their employees.
Compass Red …inspiring stories from fellow students. Short, inspiring essays by 29 students tell how they used specific On Course strategies to overcome obstacles to their academic success. Obstacles discussed in these essays are ones your students will recognize as real-world challenges to their own success in college: from dealing with difficult text books, overwhelming schedules, and academic anxieties to coping with personal self-doubts, binge drinking, and abusive partners.
Compass Yellow …a comprehensive self-assessment of study skills. This self-assessment enables students to determine their grasp of learning skills at the beginning of the course; taken again at the end of the course, the self-assessment shows students how they have changed for the better.
Compass Blue …College Smart-Start Guide. Students learn what a survey of hundreds of college educators recommend they do in their first week to get off to a good start in higher education.
Compass Green …Tech Tips. Students are introduced to dozens of free web sites and apps that are designed to help them succeed in college.
Testimonial Color

There is nothing better than On Course as far as I’m concerned–Lisa Marks, Ozarks Technical Community College, MO

I asked my students today for comments regarding the class. From an older (30ish) male student: “I find the class to be an exciting, stimulating adventure in self-discovery and motivation. This course should be required of everyone.” From a young (19-20) female: “I have learned a lot from this class and it has really helped me put my priorities into perspective. I am learning more and more about myself every day and my motivation grows stronger as well.” And there are comments from 20 more students just as positive. –Sue Palmer, College-Wide Coordinator/Student Success, Eastern Florida State College, FL

We wanted a curriculum that went beyond study skills to address the foundational needs of first-years college students. On Course causes student to examine and reflect on the causes of their successes and setbacks. It challenges students to go beyond the obvious and really delves into their motivations and mindsets. Oh, yeah, and it does a great job addressing study skills too.–Anny Heiny, Armstrong State University, GA

[On Course] is the absolute best approach for a first-year seminar/college success class that there is. The philosophy and textbook are exactly what students need. –Catherine Eloranto, Clinton Community College, NY

On Course is life-changing for my students. I have seen students evolve in ways they never imagined in a matter of a semester thanks to On Course. I cannot imagine using another book. –Joselyn Gonzalez, El Centro College, TX

The On Course book and class have changed my students’ lives; it gives them strategies to make wise choices and decisions that affect their college success, as well as life success. Students who had little hope begin to have hope for their lives and their futures. –Dorothy Collins, Eastern Gateway Community College, OH

The study skills sections are clear, logically organized and more adaptable as a “how to” guide than any other texts of similar intent. –Judith Willner, Coppin State University, MD

On Course has made a huge difference in the students I work with. Most of them see themselves throughout the book, and they are willing to make changes to improve their lives because of the content of On Course.–Tanya Stanley, San Jacinto College, TX

The information about diversity and culture that is integrated throughout the text is a much more authentic way to discuss diversity and ethnicity rather than with a one-chapter focus.–Linda McMeen, North Hennepin Community College, MN

I really enjoy teaching my CPD150 class using On Course. I tell the students it’s their CPD150 bible and never to give it away or sell it. They can use it throughout their entire college career and personal life!–Judy Birt, Paradise Valley Community College, AZ

After attending the On Course I Workshop, I completely revamped my student success course and the philosophy of the program. For my class I used the On Course text, and I must tell you this was the BEST professional experience I have ever had teaching a course. I enjoyed every minute of it, and the students really embraced the course as well. Additionally they all did extremely well with their math and English classes, even having 3 students earn a 4.0 for the semester. This is unheard of for such high risk students!–Tamara Rury, St. Thomas Aquinas College, NY

I am using On Course again with our Summer Bridge program students. Their response has been fantastic. I have literally seen a transformation from detached, unmotivated, and sometimes sullen students to engaged and responsible learners! I am looking forward to continuing On Course in the fall semester. You have created a wonderful thing in On Course!–Lori Pellescki, Neumann University, PA

My class LOVES the book. I even met the mother of one of my students, who said she was reading the book along with her student daughter. What I really like about the materials and the exercises is that they are so relevant and that most students seem genuinely interested! This is so inspiring to me.-Dorothy Ulcak, Palo Alto College, TX

This summer I taught a 3.0 unit On Course class for students on Academic Dismissal/Probation. The class was five weeks, Monday – Thursday 10am – 12:30pm. I began with 29 students and I ended with 29 students! This was the best class I have ever taught – I had so much fun with all of the activities and so did my students. What I loved was that the activities were fun but the students walked away with valuable lessons that they could remember. I was a good teacher before On Course but after On Course I feel that I improved 110%! –Amy Merkel, Counselor, Santa Rosa Junior College, CA