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Andrea Malkin Brenner, PhD is a first-year transition educator and author who works with high school and college students, parents, and faculty on all things related to the transition from high school to college. 


Andrea and Lara at the First Year Experience Summit, Florida Atlantic University, with John N. Gardner and Betsy O. Barefoot, initiators and scholars of the first-year experience and co-founders of the Gardner Institute


Dr. Andrea Malkin Brenner is the President of AMBrenner, LLC. She’s an educator who brings her 25 years as a “college insider” to speak with high school students and parents on the challenges related to college transitions. She is the creator of the Talking College Card Deck, the original card deck of discussion prompts for college-bound students and their parents. She is also co-author of How to College: What to Know Before You Go (and When You’re There) (Macmillan, St. Martin’s Press), a student-facing book that guides high school graduates through their transition to college. Andrea offers her books and cards for sale at her speaking engagements. 

Andrea was the creator and former director of the nationally recognized American University Experience (AUx) Program, the mandatory year-long first-year transition course at American University. Previous to her work with AUx, she was a faculty member in the Department of Sociology at American University for 20 years, teaching classes to undergraduate students. Andrea also served as the Faculty Advisor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Sociology and as the Faculty Director of AU's University College Program, the school’s oldest and largest living-learning community for first-year students.

Dr. Brenner has received multiple awards for her undergraduate teaching and program design for first-year college students including The Cutting-Edge Curriculum Award, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and American University Student Government’s Professor of the Year.


Andrea believes that guiding students to engage in productive discourse is a crucial part of the transition to college. Andrea’s doctoral dissertation, Too White to Teach Race: Student Perceptions of Racial Identity-based Professor Credibility, a Case of Pedagogical Malpractice? and the majority of the classes she taught at American University, focused on issues surrounding cross-cultural dialogue, power, and inequality. She was a 2019-2020 fellow at the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement with her co-author, Lara Schwartz. Their fellowship project, entitled “Let Freedom (and Respect) Ring: Fostering Civil Discourse and Free Speech in the Classroom and Beyond,” culminated in a teacher’s guide to free speech and productive discourse.


Dr. Brenner holds a BA in sociology and education from Brandeis University; an MA in curriculum, instruction and administration in higher education from Boston College; and a PhD in sociology from American University. She has two grown children and lives in Maryland with her husband.

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