Book Review: Countdown to College: The Essential Steps to Your Child’s Successful Launch

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.

The subtitle of the book Countdown to College says a lot about the book. The Essential Steps to Your Child’s Successful Launch lets the reader know immediately that the book is going to provide a step by step approach to facing what often seems like an overwhelming process.

One of the important and relatively unique things about this book is that it covers a period in the college process which is often overlooked.  Much has been written about how to engage in a successful admission process as well as how to succeed during the freshman year of college.  Countdown to College does this, but it does more.

Countdown to College fills the important gap that occurs in between these two phases. What happens after the college acceptance letter arrives and before your student’s move-in day?  This book takes parents and students through those important months of preparation in an organized, step-by-step approach. As the author states, ”The process is not finished when the admission decisions have arrived.  On the contrary, a new array of tasks awaits both of you.  The stark reality is that many if not most families encounter problems they have not anticipated but could have avoided.” Countdown to College can help families avoid many of these unanticipated situations.

Monique Rinere has served in several capacities working with students through advising, student success, career development and student health.  Her experience with so many students over the years comes through in the personal stories and illustrations in this book.  Parents will have insight into life at college as they read about students dealing with issues ranging from financial considerations, to best ”fit, through summer plans, culture shock, transitions, and finally that first visit home.  We especially like that after each discussion there are actionable tips and questions for parents and students that they may not have considered.

Finally, perhaps one of the most valuable aspects of this book is the recognition that students are not alone in undergoing transitions at this time.  Rinere deftly interweaves suggestions for parents to consider for themselves along with her suggestions for students.  She encourages parents to remember that they need to prepare for their own transition as well. ”As you have already undoubtedly noticed, while you are learning about your child’s future challenges, you are also being encouraged to consider your own as a way of preparing you to open yourself up to new things.  Not only will it rejuvenate and fortify you, but it will also parallel your child’s experience.  You will search for and find new things that make life gratifying, productive, and fun, just as your new college student will.  This simultaneous and parallel adventure offers you new ways to connect with each other and stay close experientially, even at a geographical distance.”

Although this book is useful for parents and students as they work through the beginning of the college experience, it is especially because of this parallel exploration for parents that we commend Countdown to College to your college reading list. Share many of the suggestions with your student.  Work with your student to plan and prepare for their entrance into college.  But take to heart, as well, the valuable suggestions for creating your own new experiences.

”Enhancing your life is exciting.  It has the added benefit of modeling for your child the beauty of always being able to grow and consider priorities anew.”

About the author:

Monique Rinere, a first-generation college student, earned a B.A. from Hunter College, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Princeton University.  She was a Residential College Dean at Princeton, founded the Advising Programs Office at Harvard University, and served as the Dean of Advising for Columbia University.  As Associate Vice President for Student Success, she now leads academic advising, career development, academic integrity, and student health services, among other student-centered initiatives, at the New School.  Monique is also a therapist at the Theodor Reik Clinical Center for Psycho-therapy and lives in New York City.

What the author has to say about the book:

”This book distills what I have learned over years of caring for and advising college students and parents to help you make the college experience as rich as possible for yourself and your child.  My goal is to help you be the proud parent of a young adult who stays in college and becomes a degree-wielding alum who is ready to create the next chapter of their lives, just as you engage in a process of creating yours.

In my many years of advising college students and their parents at Princeton, Harvard, and Columbia, I saw many making the same mistakes over and over, mistakes that either detracted needlessly from the college experience or increased the time it took for the student to finish their degree. I wrote the book to help readers avoid the common pitfalls that trip up so many and to help parents relax, knowing they are doing all they can to help their child make a great transition to college.”

What others have to say about the book:

”A valuable and comprehensive guide for parents of college-bound students . . . The months between high school and college are a critical time, but Dr. Monique Rinere gives you confidence that everything will be all right.”

Marvin Krislov, president, Pace University


”This book is essential for any parent currently in the process of sending their child to college. Monique Rinere effortlessly includes all a parent needs to make sure their student succeeds in college, while also giving voice to the parent. Read this book and discuss it with your child- even though they will be too busy with senior year madness to read along. A great book to put the whole family on the right footing for great success!”

Monique A.


”Many books exist that espouse various ways to make sure your child’s college application stands out so they get into their dream schools and how to ensure your child aces the scholarship competition. These books seem to stop at the application stage and do not address the important questions of how to navigate the time between receiving acceptance letters, move-in day, and even through the end of the first semester. Countdown to College: The Essential Steps to Your Child’s Successful Launch by Monique Rinere tackles these questions and so many more.”

Leslie S.

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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