Book Review — Out to Sea: A Parents’ Survival Guide to the Freshman Voyage

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 offered some lists of recommended reading, and there is something for everyone.  Visit our Resources page for suggestions of important books for college parents and their students.

Out to Sea: A Parents’ Survival Guide to the Freshman Voyage by Kelly Radi is an easy-to-read, helpful book for parents about to send their child off to college.  Radi uses the metaphor of a ship setting sail to help parents understand, and become more comfortable with, the process of helping their child start out, and succeed, in college.

Part One of the book, Preparing to Set Sail, is a good reminder to parents that any good voyage requires preparation.  We like the practical advice that Radi provides, as well as her ability to help parents grapple with defining their own role.  The ”helicopter parent” quiz in chapter 2 is particularly telling, and takes this often overused term and defines what it looks like in students’ and parents’ real life.  Parents can find out early how much of their own work they may need to do to help launch their child.  What follows is great practical advice on everything from money discussions, what to pack, and how to think about getting around campus.

Part Two, Anchors Aweigh, gets into the meat of getting the student to school, what changes at home (so important for parents to think about), how and how much to communicate, potential roommate issues, and how college logistics work.  The longest, and perhaps one of the most important, chapter in the book deals with difficulties students encounter, campus safety, drugs, alcohol, and mental health.  These issues are often uncomfortable for parents to think about, and discuss with their students, and Radi gives parents a good view of the issues as well as suggestions to deal with them.

Finally, the book helps parents to think about their student’s return home, and ends with a personal reflection by the author.  The advice is real.  We like, too, the brief appendices which cover everything from affirming words and phrases, motivating quotes and fun care package ideas.

Out to Sea is a great pre-college read for parents.  The mix of personal experience, solid research and advice by professionals, and illustrative stories and anecdotes, will propel parents through the book before they know it.  Parents will feel reassured that they are not alone in their worries, they will have solid suggestions for solutions, and they will be ready wave ”bon voyage” knowing that their student is in a better place to succeed.

About the author: 

Kelly Radi launched her firstborn off to college in 2014 and will send her second in 2017.  She has a passion for empowering parents as they launch their college-bound students.  Radi speaks at high schools and colleges about this emotional transition and offers relevant, practical solutions to help parents (and students) survive and thrive as they set sail.

Kelly Radi owns Radi to Write, LLC, a public relations writing firm.  She lives in Sartell, Minnesota.   She adores a good glass of rich, red wine and a heartfelt conversation. She has a love-hate relationship with her treadmill, preferring to walk outside or whack fuzzy yellow balls on the tennis courts when the Minnesota weather cooperates. 

What the author has to say about the book:

”I am not a psychologist nor a dean of students.  I am not a professor nor a cruise ship captain.  I am a real-life mom who has traveled these sometimes stormy seas.  I’ve learned a few things along the journey.  My goal is to be your first mate and share what I’ve learned as you embark on your own voyage.  I hope to help you survive (and thrive) as your child sets sail into the collegiate ocean of opportunities.”

Out to Sea: A Parents’ Survival Guide to the Freshman Voyage is my version of What to Expect [When You’re Expecting] for parents as their children enter their first year of college.  It is not intended for students but for you — the parents who love them and want to help them thrive.

Parents, please consider this book your survival guide.  It’s designed to help you navigate through many aspects of college life: from how to get the most out of orientation sessions and money matters to campus safety and roommate relations.”

What others have to say about the book:

”Heartfelt and engaging—Radi empowers parents and students with amazing insight, sensitivity, and knowledge. Unequivocally, a must-read.”

Dr. Sentwali Bakari, Dean of Students, Drake University

”Out to Sea is a fascinating, practical book that not only provides insight but makes me feel ready for my child’s next journey. Radi’s stories, tips, and thoughtful suggestions just make sense! I highly recommend this book and look forward to her next masterpiece.”

Dr. Daniel Bittman, Superintendent, Sauk Rapids-Rice School District

”Out to Sea offers an in-depth view of what it’s like to send your child to college. As a school counselor, I will definitely recommend it to parents of high school seniors for years to come.”

Noel Meyer, Licensed School Counselor

”A helpful read for a parent sending a student off to college. The analogies and practical tips are helpful and presented in a thoughtful checklist manner. 

Mike Connolly, Dean of Students, Saint John’s University

”Transitioning your child to the collegiate world is an exciting and emotional time for all. Out to Sea gives personal, helpful insights to this experience. It helps you navigate this journey and allows you all a more successful transition. A good read for all parents starting this journey.”

Lori Reesor, Vice Provost for Student Affairs, Indiana University

Note: Some links in our post are for affiliate products. If you use our links, College Parent Central receives a small percentage of your purchase price. This does not change the cost to you.  We think it’s only fair to let you know that.

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