Information for the parents of college students
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Book Review: The Happiest Kid on Campus: A Parent’s Guide to the Very Best College Experience (for You and Your Child)

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.  We’ve created lists of recommended reading, and there is something for everyone.  Check out our Resources and Tools page for suggestions.

The Happiest Kid on Campus: A Parent’s Guide to the Very Best College Experience (for You and Your Child) is 600 pages chock full of useful information for parents about to send their student off to college.  Don’t be fooled by the author’s lighthearted tone (fun to read).  Parents will find a wealth of wisdom contained in this book that will help you and your student prepare for what is about to come.  The book is chatty and entertaining – and has a practical and useful index to help you in those college “emergencies.”

There are two basic themes in this book that we especially like and think college parents need to hear.  One is that college is essentially 90% amazing and 10% difficult.  Yet, as college parents, we expend the majority of our energy worrying about and trying to deal with that 10%.  We need to keep it in perspective – and we need to prepare ourselves and our soon-to-be college students for that 10%

The second invaluable theme in this book is that students – and their parents – need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.  Being uncomfortable is not necessarily a bad thing – and it is often how we grow.  It is one thing to suggest that we need to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, but it is quite another to suggest that, as parents, we need to be comfortable with your child’s discomfort.  We want to rush in and make it better, we want to comfort, we want to fix everything.  In a style that often makes us smile at ourselves, this book reminds us that we need to prepare our students for discomfort, and then we need to step back and let them experience that discomfort.  Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable is the goal.

We applaud the wisdom in this book, and we recommend it to parents about to set out on this adventure.  The Happiest Kid on Campus reminds us that college is, and should be, and adventure for our college student – and for us.  Add this to your college parent bookshelf.

About the author:

Harlan Cohen is the author of several books.  He is also a musician, an advice columnist, and a professional speaker.  He began his writing career on the student newspaper at Indiana University, writing an advice column called “Help Me, Harlan!”  Although he began by writing both the questions and the answers, real letters began to arrive and he was a success.  Harlan began writing books, speaking on college campuses, and creating original music to bring the topics to life.

Harlan Cohen is the author of The Happiest Kid on Campus, Dad’s Pregnant Too!, The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You might Run Into in College, and Campus Life Exposed: Advice from the Inside.  He is a frequent guest on radio and television programs and has visited over 400 college campuses.  He lives in Chicago with his wife and two children.

What the author has to say about the book:

“The goal of this book isn’t to tell you what to do or what not to do (I know better).  Instead, what I’ve done is share the latest research, trends, facts, and statistics that parents need to know to help answer their own questions and define their roles.  I’ve also shared my approach to college success and offered suggestions based on thousands of interactions with parents, professionals, and students…

I look at this book as two books in one.  The first part of the book gives you a baseline of what’s normal and to be expected during the college experience and how you can help.  The second part offers prescriptive advice from students and professionals on a variety of different issues you may encounter.”

What others have to say about the book:

Stunningly sensible…Taking a cue from the ever-popular What to Expect When You’re Expecting series, Harlan Cohen uses a similar perky approach in his user-friendly The Happiest Kid on Campus.

USA Today

There’s a lot to learn, and “The Happiest Kid on Campus: Everything a Parent Needs to Know to Help You and Your Child Have an Amazing College Experience,” covers it all in hundreds of pages that are organized well enough to help you easily find a particular problem and a solution.

The Washington Post

I just finished reading The Happiest Kid on Campus: A Parent’s Guide to the Very Best College Experience (for you and your child!). It was like taking a trip down memory lane with both my kids and their college experiences. If only this book had been written eight years ago when I sent my daughter off to college, I might have avoided many sleepless nights, worried moments, and confusing dilemmas during those tumultuous four years. My favorite quote from the book: “Life (and college) is 90 percent amazing and 10 percent difficult.” It’s the 10 percent difficult that Harlan Cohen addresses in his book. And it’s that 10 percent difficult that ALL parents need to be prepared to deal with.

Suzanne Schaffer

Parents Countdown to College Coach

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