Book Review: Your Freshman Is Off to College

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 recommended reading, and there is something for everyone. See the Recommended Reading section of our Resources page for more suggestions.

There is a lot to like about Laurie Hazard and Stephanie Carter’s Your Baby Freshman Is Off to College. Written for parents as a month-by-month guide to the first year of college, the book clearly reflects the expertise and experience of the authors’ day-to-day interactions with first-year college students.

The extended analogy of comparing the first year of college to those early parenting years not only gets to the heart of the first-year transition, but also put this year’s experiences in perspective for most parents. The comparisons reflect the authors’ humor, but also are particularly apt. From birthing class and stranger anxiety to separation anxiety, colic, learning to play well with others and graduating from the ABC’s, parents who remember their child’s infancy and toddlerhood will smile at the appropriateness of the college equivalents.

The overall organization of Your Freshman Is Off to College makes it particularly approachable and will keep parents from feeling overwhelmed too soon.  We like that the book follows the trajectory of the first year experience month by month.  Beginning each chapter with an imaginary letter from student to parent helps parents imagine what students face at that particular time of the first year.  Each chapter contains parent questions along with responses that will give parents a better understanding of college life and available services.  We particularly like that each section also contains a list of ”what to expect of your young adult in this situation.”  Parents will not only learn about college life and resources, but also have specific suggestions of how to encourage responsibility and ownership by their student.

If we could wish for one more thing in Your Freshman Is Off to College, it would be a final section or chapter pulling the year together — perhaps reflecting on the progress your baby freshman has made throughout the year.

Your Freshman Is Off to College should be on every new college parent’s reading list.  It’s an easy read, so we’d recommend reading it all at the beginning of the year and then returning to the book each month for specifics.  Parents will find information, reassurance, and perspective as they make the first-year transition along with their student.

About the authors:

Laurie L Hazard is the Assistant Dean for Student Success at Bryant University in Smithfield, RI.  She is a member of the Applied Psychology Department, writes about student personality types and classroom success, and is an award-winning expert on how students can make successful transitions from high school to college.  Hazard is co-author of the book Foundations for Learning which is designed to help students make a successful transition to college by encouraging them to take responsibility for and claim their own education.  Laurie has won numerous awards for her work with first-year students and their parents and her expertise has gained her national media attention.  She lives in Warwick, RI with her children.

Stephanie Carter is the Director of the Academic Center for Excellence at Bryant University in Smithfield, RI.  She is a respected leader in the field of student success and learning assistance.  As an award-winning educator with over twenty-five years of experience helping college students mediate the challenges of the higher education environment, she has gained expertise working with first-years and their parents to insure a healthy transition from high school to college.  Stephanie has extensive experience, as both a scholar and practitioner, supporting first-year college students.  As a teacher of composition, she is also a nationally recognized expert in the areas of plagiarism and academic integrity.  Stephanie lives in Warwick, RI with her husband and her children.

What the authors have to say about the book:

 ”This comprehensive guide is designed to assist you to support your young adult through the triumphs and pitfalls of their first year of college.  The intention of the guide is not only to help you understand what to expect from your young adult as they walk through their first year of college, but also to provide you with some insight into what your young adult is likely experiencing during the course of that first-year.  This insight will enable you to know when to step in and ”baby” them, if necessary, and when to let go and allow them the freedom to learn from their mistakes.  In short, this guide will assist you in supporting your young adult to have a successful first year.  Let’s face it: for you and your young adult, a lot is at stake.”

”You will be challenged to figure out when to step in to help remove the obstacles that are impeding certain goals, and when to just plain old ”let go” and allow your babies to stand on their own two feet, taking those wobbly steps toward full-fledged adulthood.  This guide will help you figure out when to ”let go of their hands.”

”Your role is to be there to support and encourage your sons and daughters through this major life transition (albeit from a distance).  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  This manual is here not only to help you do that, but also to support you in your major life transition: evolving from being parents of adolescents into being parents of adults (yes, that’s right).”

What others have to say about the book:

”This book is a must read for every parent and family member of a college-bound student.  It is helpful, witty and engaging.  Hazard and Carter provide excellent insight on how families can assist their student successfully navigate the transition into college and throughout the first year.”

Krystal L. Ristaino, expert in university parent and family relations

 ”As the parent of a brand-new college freshman, I am thrilled to have received Your Baby Freshman Is Off to College.  The fears and anxiety of dropping off my child are gone after reading this book, which provides realistic scenarios, advice and problem solving solutions.  It is organized, informative and on target, addressing many facets of college life.  The month-by-month timeline and real-time’ advice is essential insight into where my child is at in each stage, and how/when/if to help.  This book has helped me to help my child help himself.”

Shannon McAloon Merkler, parent of a college freshman

 ”Hazard and Carter have taken an adolescent development approach to help parents understand what’s happening to their sons and daughters when they begin their college careers.  With humor and compassion, the writers describe a variety of scenarios and offer important insights to parents.  A highly instructive manual, it offers guidance to parents to help them transition from a hovering role to one that truly supports their young adult in the best and most productive ways possible.  The authors’ collective wisdom provides parents with the tools they need to facilitate their sons’ and daughters’ successful transition from high school to college”

Toby Simon, Former Vice President of Student Affairs, Marymount Manhattan College and Associate Dean of Student Life, Brown 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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