Information for the parents of college students
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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, the Dr. Rollag proceeds in Part 2 to devote a chapter to each of these skills.

We like that the author begins each chapter of this section by examining why the skill is important to success and then explaining the science and culture behind our fear or reluctance to use each of these skills and puts our fears in context.  Each chapter then follows a format of reviewing strategies to be more successful with the skill and then presents ways to reflect upon, practice and get better at it.  Each chapter then ends with several straightforward steps to summarize how to put the skill into practice. The organized approach, together with many practical examples, makes the book an easy read and a helpful resource.

About the author:

Keith Rollag is an organizational researcher, consultant, associate professor of management, and chair of the Management Division at Babson College.  His work and ideas have been featured in The New York Times, Newsday, Investor’s Business Daily, MIT Sloan Management Review, Wired News, Havard Management Update, and other publications

Prior to obtaining his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University, Professor Rollag was a product development manager at Procter & Gamble.

Professor Rollag enjoys triathlons, kayaking, learning Spanish, and bluegrass music. Originally from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, he now lives in the Boston area with his wife Kathy Harris, daughter Annie, son David, and their two cats.

What the author has to say about the book: 

“The goal of this book is to help you become a more successful newcomer – across all kinds of new situations. . . Ultimately, the key to becoming a better newcomer is to stop seeing “being new” as something you fear and endure, but as an interesting challenge you can learn to improve through reflection and practice.”

“Through my interviews I’ve found that when people reflect on their past newcomer experiences, most regret the things they didn’t do as opposed to the things they did do when they were new. They wish they would have taken the opportunity to introduce themselves to more people. They wish they could have asked more questions, or proactively started and nurtured more relationships. They wish they would have had the courage to try out new things and allow themselves to be a beginner for a while.

I wrote this book to help people overcome that reluctance and become more ready and willing to “put themselves out there” and take advantage of emerging opportunities. I’ve found that if people get better and more confident at the fundamental tasks we do when we’re new, we’re more willing to pursue new situations and persist through the inevitable awkwardness we initially feel until we’re comfortable and satisfied in our new role and situation.”

What others have to say about the book:

“Whether in school, relationship, or work, this is the essential guide to overcoming fear, taking action, and finding success in new beginnings.”

Dr. Heidi Grant Halverson – social psychologist and author of No One Understands You and What to                        Do About It

“The best book ever written on how to navigate those difficult early days in a new job or organization.  Rollag provides one useful tip after another.  This well-crafted book is a delight to read.”

Robert Sutton, Stanford Professor and co-author of Scaling Up Excellence

“…well-organized, comprehensive book. A must-read for newcomers in all areas.”

                       Library Journal 

“Rollag presents fresh strategies for making everything new less scary, more manageable and much more rewarding.”

                    Joyce Lain Kennedy- Chicago Tribune/Tribune Media Services

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