“The Happiest Kid on Campus” by Harlan Cohen
$14.99 / $17.99 Canada
618 pages, includes index
By Terri Schlichenmeyer, Philadelphia Tribune contributor
When the fat envelope came a couple months ago, you couldn’t stop dancing.
Now, you’re wondering what you were thinking.
True, you got into the college of your choice and you’re pretty proud of that. So are Mom and Dad. But you know you can’t just show up at Whotheheckare U and expect it to be like high school. How will you know your way around campus? What if you hate your roommate? How embarrassing is it if you’re homesick?
You’re worried, a little. So are Mom and Dad. So why not spend part of your summer reading “The Happiest Kid on Campus: A Parent’s Guide to the Very Best College Experience” by Harlan Cohen? Yeah, the word “parents” is in the title, but this is a book for you both.
Back in the Dark Ages (when your parents were at university), there were no PCs. Very few people had cell phones, and ATMs were rare. Your parents remember college, but your experience will be very different from theirs.
The first thing to know is that going to college can be uncomfortable. You’ll be doing things you won’t want to do at first, and you’ll probably be doing it on your own. But that doesn’t mean you’re alone: Cohen says that over 65% of college students report being homesick. The bottom line is that your feelings are normal and it’s going to take more than a couple days to “fit in.” Feeling at ease on campus might take months.
A road trip might help, says Cohen. Take a day this summer and go visit the campus and the town it’s in. Walk around a little, look for a staff member or RA (you might get a quick tour!), and get your bearings. And bring Mom and Dad — they’ll feel better when they know you’re good to go.
Which brings us to another point: let’s say you’re ready — more than ready, in fact — to leave the nest, but your parents are the problem. In this book, Cohen offers tips for both you and your parents on letting go, getting acclimated, packing what you’ll need, finding the information you want, slaying homesickness, how to use Facebook without embarrassment on either side, and much more.
While it’s true that “The Happiest Kid on Campus” is geared more for parents, I don’t think there’s an incoming freshman anywhere who should miss reading it, too.
Using hints, tips, and stories from real college students around North America, columnist and author Harlan Cohen gives advice to students as well as to their parents on how to deal with this (sometimes traumatic) milestone. What I thought most helpful was that if this book isn’t comprehensive enough — which I find hard to imagine, given its heft — Cohen includes his own email address so readers can get more answers.
If you’re heading for university at the end of summer, grab this book and share it with your parents. “The Happiest Kid on Campus” will help you both graduate to this new phase of life.
Contact Terri Schlichenmeyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.