Book Review: Parents’ Guide to College Life

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From time to time, we like to review some of the books available for parents of college students.  There is a wealth of literature available to help parents cope with the transition to college and the changes that occur throughout the college years. 

In this review, we take a look at the book Parents’ Guide to College Life: 181 Straight Answers on Everything You Can Expect Over the Next Four Years by author Robin Raskin.

In order to write her book, Raskin surveyed deans, resident assistants, and administrators at nearly one hundred colleges.  She interviewed financial, medical and insurance experts.  Organized in question and answer format, her book shares advice and tips from the experts and professionals she interviewed, as well as from parents and both current and past college students.  The book covers a wide range of topics and is chock full of statistics and quotes.  She intersperses these statistics and quotes with personal experiences and anecdotes.  The result is an easy to read, down to earth book covering everything from parental roles, student life, sex, drugs, drinking, safety, health, academics, money, and dorm life.

Many of the questions posed in Parents’ Guide to College Life are questions parents might not think to ask, but once they are expressed in the book it becomes obvious that they are important questions.  Here are a few sample questions covered:

  • How much cash should be in my child’s wallet?
  • Are small classes better than big lectures?
  • Should I help edit her papers?
  • How many extracurricular activities are too many?
  • What kind of grades are reasonable to expect from my child?
  • What’s the one thing most students bring but never end up using?
  • Whose telephone numbers should I have in my rolodex?

One tool which might help readers access specific information would be an index of topics, but sometimes browsing through the chapters uncovers unexpected bits of information.

Perhaps two of the most unique and interesting features of Robin Raskin’s book are the final chapter and the appendices.  The final chapter, “Words from the Wisest”, contains nuggets of advice from college parents and from students.  Raskin states, “I like to think that some of the best advice we get comes from the practical experience of those who have been there before us . . . Focusing on the practical always helps tame the emotions.”  In this chapter she shares comments directly from those who have lived the college experience.

The book’s four appendices also share important information, covering The Clery Act (campus safety),  FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), an interesting parent trivia test, and helpful web resources for parents.  (We’d love to see College Parent Central included in any future edition!!)

If you’re starting a collection of helpful resources for the college years, definitely check out Parents’ Guide to College Life by Robin Raskin.

About the Author

Robin Raskin is Director of Communications for the Princeton Review and has been a longtime spokesperson on family life in a digital world.  She has served as Editor-in-Chief of FamilyPC, has served as editor of PC Magazine, and has been a columnist for USA Today Online and the Gannett News Service.  She is also a college mom herself, with two children who have completed college and one child still in college.

What the author has to say about the book

“This book was written to help better define that fine line between micromanagement and an appropriate level of concern during your child’s college years.”

“Welcome to the world of long-distance parenting, where the key to survival is the unwavering belief that, just like they outgrew diapers and learned how to read, they’ll outgrow their college problems, too – and they’ll get through each one with the life skills you packed up for them.”

What some others have to say about the book

“Savvy advice, great tips, and tell-it-like-it-is practicality . . . A must-read before college begins!”

                                                Soledad O’Brien

                                                CNN “American Morning” Co-Anchor

“This is a benchmark guide for twenty-first-century college parents.  Raskin delivers her recommendations with wit, intelligence, and love.”

                                                Claire Green

                                                President, Parents’ Choice Foundation

“Forget about the kids – this is an essential college survival guide for you!”

                                                Janet Chan

                                                Editor-in-Chief, Parenting Magazine

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