Book Review: "They're Ready. Are You? A Parent's Guide to Surviving the College Transition" by Liz Yokubison

As a graduate student in Higher Education and a parent of three middle/high school students, Hanan offers her professional and personal view of this book.

This book is written by Liz Yokubison who works as a marketing professional. The idea of writing this book came from her experience with her twins moving from high school to college. Liz started the book with what happens during senior year. Supporting your child while choosing a college is important. Parents don’t have to force their child’s college choice; however, they can guide their child in choosing which college to apply to based on the desired college experience.

I liked the idea of creating space at home for your teenager that Liz mentioned. While moving from childhood to adulthood, people go through a lot of changes—not just physically but also emotionally. Creating space for your teenager will help them explore themselves and analyze things around them. Also, creating space at home helps them spend time and build relationships with friends in a safe space.

During the summer between graduating from high school and starting college, parents and students need to prepare for college while having fun and making memories. The author said that children should learn something new that summer—I believe they should learn something new while taking control of responsibilities; for example, let them make a list of dorm room needs and make doctor appointments. Before going to college, parents can teach time management and adult responsibilities. Perhaps the most important lesson parents can share is how to create a budget. In my experience as a parent of teenagers, parents can begin with these life lessons much earlier than the summer before college. High school students can also take advantage of courses offered at their high schools; parents can enhance these lessons by encouraging their children to practice what they learn at home.

Liz wrote about her experience while accompanying her children for college orientation. Orientation provides an overview about college and what to expect while moving from home to college. The book mentions that it’s very important for both students and parents to attend orientation. For students, it’s the beginning of a new experience; orientation provides the opportunity to meet staff and explore campus. While parents explore where their student will live and study, they should use their time on the campus to accomplish administrative tasks such as setting up a bank account.

After a student has committed to a college, they will be contacted about housing selection. Liz advises parents to pay attention to materials provided to students, including housing checklists and meal plan information. Freshmen students will need computers, bed linens, towels, toiletries, and clothes (especially if moving to an area with a different climate!) Parents should take note of items that will make the student more comfortable, like a refrigerator.

I believe that “the goodbye time” is the hardest time for parents. Liz describes in detail her feelings during the move-in day and how hard and painful it is for the parent to leave their child alone for the first time. Families are all different and will experience emotions in unique ways, but most will experience some sadness during move-in day.

Liz concludes by advising parents of new college students to not forget about the other children at home. As both of her children left home at the same time, she sought out other parents’ perspectives on this situation. It is beneficial to take siblings with during your first visit to build the familial relationship. I think it’s a great strategy for parents to build sibling connections.

In the first months I’ve worked with Parent and Family Programs, I’ve seen the hard work that goes into planning family events on campus. For Liz, her first family weekend experiences were disappointing as her students balanced conflicting schedules. She didn’t expect to find her children busy with their own daily activities during her visits. However, every visit was not like the one before—Liz advises parents to let their children decide how often and when to visit to avoid these conflicts. Liz believes that it is very important to create a bridge between a student’s college and home lives by sharing photos, funny stories, and inside family jokes—if a parent can’t visit frequently, this can happen through care packages.

Liz reminds parents that children become more independent in college and will not return as the same child who left. Similarly, parents’ lives change as well during this time. I strongly agree that the role of parents of adult children changes. During this period of time, students need their parents to be a coach instead of someone to make decisions for them. They need to learn how to make decisions for themselves and learn about the consequences of those decisions. According to Liz, when parents are far from their children and can’t manage them, students can rely on university staff for support. Therefore, it’s very important to make some personal connections on campus.

In my research, I have learned a lot about the impact of family relationships on adolescent development. Each family member—parents, siblings, or cousins—impact the life of the adolescent. When parents are involved in their children’s education and monitor after-school activities, they facilitate their children’s academic achievement and educational accomplishment, which continues in college. In my opinion, the relationship between parent and child is very important to the growth of self-esteem and educational achievement. Parents play an important role in identifying children’s talent and guiding them through decisions. This book reflects the research and my own experiences. I found it to be a helpful guide for parents preparing to send children to college. I suggest reading this book prior to a child’s senior year in order to prepare and assist their child early without any pressure of time.

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