Book Review — What To Do When You’re New

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.

What to Do When You’re New: How to Be Comfortable, Confident, and Successful in New Situations is a book for parents and students alike.  We initially decided to review this book as something for parents to pass along to their students — as they begin college or move on to career.  However, we quickly discovered this is a useful book for parents as well.

As the author points out, we are all newcomers as various times in various settings.  Dr. Rollag’s information and tips will be helpful to everyone.  We suggest you give a copy to your student, and keep a copy for yourself as well.  Read it together and talk about it.

According to the author, ”the secret to newcomer success is no secret at all.  It mostly comes down to our willingness and ability to do five key things: 1) Introduce ourselves to strangers, 2) Learn and remember names, 3) Ask questions, 4) Seek out and start new relationships, 5) Perform new things in front of others.”  After an early overview, Dr. Rollag proceeds in Part 2 to devote a chapter to each of these skills.

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Making the Most of Your Phone Calls with Your College Student

Regular phone conversations with your college student are a great way to stay in touch with what is happening in your student’s life — and for them to stay in touch with life at home. Even if you keep up with each other via e-mail, text, or some other electronic medium, there is nothing quite like hearing each other’s voice.  However, just because the technology allows us instant contact, it doesn’t mean that every conversation will be satisfying.  Here are some suggestions that will help to maximize your conversations with your college student.

Make it routine.

Although spontaneous conversations are good, consider setting up a regular time for your student to phone you. Let your student phone you, rather than you making the call, so that they will choose a time when they are available for a conversation.  Reaching them while they are at dinner with friends may not be very satisfying for anyone.  

One perennial dilemma is finding the balance of how much contact is the right amount. While it may seem reassuring, as a parent, to talk to your child daily, or even multiple times a day, after those first few days of transition are over, moving away from such frequent conversations will help your student settle into life at college. Perhaps talking weekly might allow you to touch bases and check in.

Some students resist phoning home once a week.  If that is the case, suggest that they do it for your benefit.  Some students naturally phone home when they have a problem, or are feeling sad or homesick, or have something wonderful to celebrate.  For others, this may not be as easy.  When you set up a regular schedule, your student has an opportunity to phone home ”because my parents insist” and it becomes a regular time to talk.  They don’t have to admit that they want to hear your voice, or see phoning home as a sign of dependence.

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