5 Books For Parents of First-Year College Students

Middle-aged woman sitting on the sofa reading a book
July 21, 2020

As a parent, the college application process can be as hectic for you as it is for your child. You get caught up in a whirl-wind of campus visits, FAFSA applications, and deadlines. If this is your first time, you seek the advice of other parents, books, podcasts, and anyone else that can help you survive the chaos that can be college admissions. However, throughout it all, what gets forgotten is what happens when the chaos is over. What do you do when your child actually goes off to college?

You spend so much time focusing on getting them into college that you rarely take the time to prepare for the day when they leave home. This can leave many parents unsure of what to do and how to act. What should I do with all of this newfound free time? How often should I call my child? Will they know how to survive without me? It’s a challenging time for any parent and one that should be taken seriously. No matter where your child is in the college process, here are five books aimed to prepare you for the next step in your relationship with your new college student child.

Letting Go: A Parent’s Guide To Understanding The College Years
By Karen Levin Coburn

Overview

Letting Go has been providing parents guidance and advice for well over a decade. This book focuses on how to support your new college student on an emotional and social level. It is packed with stories from former college students and parents who speak openly about the different issues and challenges they had to overcome. Author Karen Coburn guides parents through difficult transitional challenges, including how to encourage independence, when it’s okay to intervene, what kinds of emotions your child will be facing, and much more.

How It Can Benefit You

To get the most out of this book, it’s beneficial to read it before your child actually leaves for college. As you read it, take notes about what challenges mentioned in the book might be an issue for your child. Then, set aside time to discuss the book with them. Have an open conversation about how they are feeling about being independent and if they understand the responsibilities they are being entrusted with. This might be the time to set ground rules such as how often they will call home to ensure you are giving them enough space.

The Naked Roommate: For Parents Only
By Harlan Cohen

Overview

The Naked Roommate is a funny and laid back guide for parents to prepare for the new world that their kids are about to enter. Written by Harlan Cohen, a trusted guru of all things college, this book is designed to collect and deliver fact-based advice to any parent of a first-year college student. This book is a collection of stats and stories from parents, students, and experts across the country. It covers a wide variety of topics such as preparing the summer before, keeping in touch, going to class, financial advice, dealing with roommates, handling homesicknesses, and so much more.

How It Can Benefit You

This book will prepare you for all the surprises you are in store as the parent of a college student. Again, this type of book should be read months before your child leaves for school. If something in the book concerns you, then you should raise it with your child. Otherwise, at least you have a reference guide on how to deal with the majority of issues that may arise during their four years away at school. 

Secrets of a Financial Aid Pro
By Jodi Okun

Overview

It seems like almost every day we read something about the student loan debt problem in this country. Several candidates for President over the years have promised to get this issue under control, and even a few have pledged to eliminate the debt entirely. In her best selling book, Jodi Okun tackles the issue head-on in a way that can help you prevent the issue before even starts. Jodi has decades of experience in the arena of financial aide and shares her sound and practical advice with you in this book.

How It Can Benefit You

Navigating financial aid can be complicated for any parent and downright overwhelming for any student. This book can help answer your questions and ensure you are making the right choices before and during your child’s college years. Before you make any decisions, read this book and highlight anything you don’t understand. This way, you can come up with specific questions to ask your family, friends, or financial advisor and get the specific advice you need.

From Mom To Me Again
By Melissa Shultz

Overview

As a parent, you spend nearly two decades being Mom or Dad to your child. That is a full-time job with a ton of responsibilities. For most, it keeps them so busy that it defines their existence and gives them their purpose. Then, their child goes off to school, and everything changes. This book tells the story of how one Mom dealt with these issues and reinvented herself to move on with her life.

How It Can Benefit You

As we mentioned earlier, the process of applying to college revolves solely around the child. However, the aftermath significantly impacts the parent as well. Adjusting to an empty home for the first time is not something to take lightly. You owe it to yourself to prepare for what life will be like after your child leaves for college. This book can provide the guidance you are looking for that isn’t always found in your more traditional college-based books.

How To Raise An Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap
By Julie Lythcott-Haims

Overview

This book tackles the issue of helicopter parenting head-on. Author Julie-Lythcott Haims speaks openly about the damage of helicopter parenting by telling stories of her time as a student dean. This book is a collection of her conversations with admissions officers, educators, and employers as she explores the varying ways parents have meddled in their children’s lives and the adverse impact it had on their future. She also provides practical strategies to help parents allow their children to make their own mistakes and develop the skills necessary for success.

How It Can Benefit You

Admitting that you are guilty of being a helicopter or overbearing parent may be difficult. After all, you want what’s best for your child. However, intervening every time there is a problem, and ensuring they never have to endure failure is a recipe for disaster. Just listen to the conversations and stories Julie has had with those in the educational and corporate worlds. If you think this is something you are guilty of, you owe it to your child’s future to read this book and begin implementing its advice.

About Kyle

Kyle Grappone is an educational coach helping students prepare for the next steps in life.

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