Review of GenTwenty’s Guide to College Success + A Big TU Announcement

Note: The review in this post is written in partnership with GenTwenty. Opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

There’s a quote I love in Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please” when she writes about being a writer in the middle of developing her book and making the mistake of asking published writers for advice.

“I made other terrible mistakes while I tried to write this book. I asked people who have already finished books for advice, which is akin to asking a mother with a four-year-old what childbirth is like. All the edges have been rounded and they have forgotten the pain.”

Guide to College Success ImageWhen I think back to my college days and even the earliest post-grad ones, I feel like that published writer or seasoned mom. My edges have been rounded and I’ve certainly forgotten the pain (and pleasure for that matter). But, I got to take a trip down memory lane when I read “GenTwenty’s Guide to College Success.”

Perhaps the grand disclaimer is that there is not any one definitive guide for college success, as is the case for any era, path or finite season in life. But, there are certainly words of wisdom to inherit from those who have been there, done that and are sporting the battle wounds to prove it. That’s what “GenTwenty’s Guide to College Success” is all about. The book came together under the creation and direction of GenTwenty’s founder Nicole Booz with the work of more than a dozen contributors.

I approached this book from many different perspectives–former college kid, (somewhat) recent grad and blogger/writer. Based on those three outlooks, here are some of my thoughts about the book as well as my favorite picks of essays in the book most related to that particular identity.

Former college kid perspective
Admittedly it’s tough to channel the wayward soul I was in college, but I do think if I were still a student, this book would be incredibly helpful. It covers the gamut in terms of the many issues that pop up in college and the potential shitstorms that follow. From choosing a major to studying abroad and even the ins and outs of small talk when you’re at networking events, the book offers up something for most scenarios in college. And, it also does so in a straightforward, digestible and relatable way. It’s way too easy for those have already endured the college experience to patronize students still in school, and I appreciate that “GenTwenty’s Guide to College Success” doesn’t do that.

My fave picks for current college students:

“Step 1A: Fueling Your Passions (And Not Your Parents’)
“Step 2: Creating Your X Year Plan” (especially the bit about not relying on college advisors to make decisions for you, yes!)
“Step 19: College Money Traps And How To Avoid Them

Recent graduate perspective
College students are definitely the target demographic for this book, but there are also gems for those just entering the hurricane that is post-grad life, particularly in the final “Planning For Your Future” section. The same way there is not a roadmap for college success, there also isn’t one for early adulthood, but there are definitely things I wish I knew more about ahead of time.

My fave picks for recent graduates

“Step 22: Understanding The Basics Of Credit And How To Build Yours”  (in the student finances section)
“Establishing Your Personal Brand”
“Building An Organic Mentor Relationship”

Blogger/writer perspective
Ironically enough, “GenTwenty’s Guide To College Success” resonates with me most as a blogger and writer–not because of any of the essays in the book, but because of how this book represents the clear sense of direction and brand awareness Nicole has for GenTwenty. There are a lot of books Nicole could have opted to publish, but this one is completely in sync with the mass of her audience. It’s organized well, easy to read and anchored with a solid cover design. A product like that will continue to propel GenTwenty’s brand.

My fave picks for bloggers/writers
“Managing Your Professional Twitter Account”
“Creating An Online Portfolio”
“Your Quick Speech: The Elevator Pitch”

If I could change anything?
The one thought I had while reading was that it would be cool if each essay had a suggested age/college year that piece was targeted toward. Something like “Recommended for Freshmen/Sophomores” italicized below the title or “Recommended for all.” The book is chock full of great tips, but everything isn’t always for everyone. That breakdown would make an already-wonderful book even more organized. Maybe we’ll see it for the second edition!

Much applause to Nicole and the GenTwenty team for a solid and well-done product. Head over to Amazon to purchase the book for a whopping $11.45 dollars!

And, now for a Twenties Unscripted announcement…

Spring 2015: Introducing the Twenties Unscripted Campus Reps Program!

I’m excited to officially launch and announce the Twenties Unscripted Campus Reps Program! In an effort to increase brand visibility and readership among college-age women, I’m expanding the tribe this year to include Campus Reps. Campus Reps will be my go-to girls, helping me to keep a pulse on what’s happening across campuses and how TU can be a part of that. They will keep my old ass young. And I love them for that.

To learn more about the program and apply, click here!

campus reps program flyer

Feature: Nicole, Editor-in-Chief of GenTwenty

Today I’m excited to participate in a features swap with GenTwenty, an online community where twenty-somethings can write about the issues that speak to us. Admittedly (and ironically enough) I am not always a big fan of online spaces for twenty-something because the behemoths such as Thought Catalog and Elite Daily have given these sites a reputation for ejecting vapidness and absurdity into the Internet world. However, GenTwenty manages to overcome that generalization and produce thoughtful content, with Seattle-based freelancer Nicole Booz, co-founder and editor-in-chief, at the helm of the website. Learn more about Nicole, how she has monetized GenTwenty and what is next for the site.

And, to check out my feature today in GenTwenty’s “Conversations With A Blogger” series, click here!

How did you come up with the name GenTwenty?
When my fellow co-founder (Gina, who is no longer with GenTwenty) and I first began discussing GenTwenty and what we wanted it to be, we knew we wanted to write about Gen Y and well, our lives. Having recently graduated from college, we were both nervous and excited about our twenties and the uncharted adventures that lay ahead. We decided to merge the two and GenTwenty was born.

What distinguishes GenTwenty from other websites targeting millennials?
Personally, what I think makes GenTwenty stand out from the crowd is our diverse group of contributors. I’m fascinated by other people’s stories and I love having the chance to share them.

We also have some fun features like the Book of the Month Club, Generation Social – our social media column, A World of Wanderlusting, and a dating column written by the anonymous Jane. We try to do things a little differently than everyone else is doing them.

Nicole of GenTwenty
Nicole of GenTwenty

I think your twenties are a really crazy time in your life where you aren’t really sure who you are yet and you’re asking yourself a lot of questions that will help form what kind of person you really want to be. The GenTwenty community recognizes that and expresses it in nearly all of our work. We talk about the topics a lot of people want to avoid, especially in a public setting. For example, we just published The Fear of Not Being Good Enough.

I recently read an article called “Generation Whine: Self-Pitying Twentysomethings and the Boomers Who Made Them” where writer Laura Bennett says, “ ‘Take my experiences and make them yours’: This could be the rallying cry of this school of urban twentysomethingdom.” What is your response to people who dismiss or mock the concerns of twenty-somethings?
I just have to say – that article was a wild ride from start to finish.

I suppose they should dismiss their own concerns in that case. We all have struggles and they are all legitimate, even if someone else won’t recognize them. It’s a little naive to say that twenty-somethings are a whiny generation. I think we have just as many complaints as any other generation, we are just more vocal about them because we know we aren’t alone in our feelings. We aren’t at a point in our lives where we think our fates are sealed and we may as well accept it; we still believe that change is 100 percent possible and we actively seek that change.

I think we are in a perpetual state of “There’s got to be more to life than this.” Not a single twenty-something I know is interested in being with the same company thirty years from now. Many of our parents and role models ended up in that position and are unsatisfied. We refuse to settle for that. And honestly, I hope we are still not settling when we are fifty-somethings.

How have you implemented a sustainable model to monetize GenTwenty?
In June we launched our Official Partnership Program to work with bloggers and small businesses. All of the money gets funneled straight back into GenTwenty. It goes into site maintenance and advertising on other sites which helps build readership and increase page views, which is great for our sponsors because it means their ads are viewed more.

Who is GenTwenty’s ideal reader?

Our ideal reader is the one who seeks to consume the wheaties content and not the cotton candy (words from our very own Mara Johnson who included it in her application and a description that has not left my mind ever since).

I think there are a lot of site and blogs out there that cover the latest trends, outfit ideas, and list-type posts, favorite items, etc. – which definitely have their place, but are a dime a dozen on the web these days. So much of that done before. Sites like Thought Catalog and Buzzfeed are relatable and hilarious, but I want to dig deeper past the superficial stuff.

We seek to connect with those who are interested in deep, thought-provoking topics, those who have strong opinions and aren’t afraid to share them, those who need a little reassurance that things are going to be OK, and those who are mature enough to see someone else’s point of view. Self-awareness is also a big part of our ideal reader, people who see themselves as constantly evolving.

How do you maintain a sense of community at GenTwenty with many different voices on the site?
It’s difficult, I’m not going to skate around that. To have 25 different voices on one site is a complicated thing. I encourage our contributors to write in the first person – I think sharing personal stories and anecdotes helps keep us all connected. My goal is for readers to feel as if they are chatting with friends over a coffee. It’s a tough dynamic to achieve online with multiple contributors and it’s always a work in progress, but that is the ultimate goal.

If a reader is new to the site, what message do you hope they receive from the writing?
I hope when new readers come along, they catch onto a thought or a feeling and relate to it. I hope they gain a new perspective or understanding. I don’t want them to cry necessarily, but a strong emotional reaction is preferred.

Finish this thought: Twenty-somethings are ____________________
… just getting started.

What is next for GenTwenty?
Moving forward, I hope to refine GenTwenty’s voice into what sounds like a conversation between friends. I’d also like to publish an ebook within the next year and grow our partnership program. We’ll see!

Nicole is the Editor-in-chief at GenTwenty. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Maryland and considers herself to be a full-time creative. In her free time she enjoys exploring local markets, planning her next vacation, scrapbooking her adventures, and reading any book she can get her hands on. Connect with her on Twitter: @nicolebooz. Check out GenTwenty at www.gentwenty.com and follow them on Twitter at @GenTwenty