A Summer Reading List for Parents of High School and College Students

Parenting is hard work.  Those of us who have been parents for a while know how difficult it can be.  And as parents, we sometimes seek advice from the “experts,” whether those experts are our friends, our own parents, our medical providers, our counselors, or the authors who write books. Remember reading all those books before your baby was born?

We all need a little advice – and a little perspective.

There are lots of great books (and blogs like this one!) out there to help parents as they approach and live through the college admission process and the college years. We’ve reviewed more than thirty of them and we think many of them provide parents important guidance and food for thought. You can read some when your student heads to college, but we suggest that you start even earlier.  Many of these books help you help your child to start laying the foundation for future success.

So we’re offering a summer reading list of our current top ten favorite books.  Start here. Click on the titles to read our reviews. Pick the ones that speak to you. Read one or two or three. Share them – with a friend or with your student. Form a book club.  Start conversations.

The High School Parent’s Guide to College Success by Amy Baldwin and Brian Tietje

It takes time to get a student ready for college and this book guides parents through the process.  Don’t wait until your student is ready to head to college.

Put College to Work: How to Use College to the Fullest to Discover Your Strengths and Find a Job You Love Before You Graduate by Kat Clowes

Helps students take control of their own paths to success – always the goal for college students.  The book helps students avoid the feeling of being helpless as they enter a difficult professional world.

The Happiest Kid on Campus: A Parent’s Guide to the Very Best College Experience (for You and Your Child) by Harlan Cohen

Don’t be fooled by the author’s lighthearted tone (fun to read).  Parents will find a wealth of wisdom contained in this book that will help you and your student prepare for what is about to come.

Your Baby Freshman Is Off to College by Laurie Hazard and Stephanie Carter

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 Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey

This book highlights an essential, and often missing, element of today’s childhood – failure.  As the title suggests, allowing our children – whether they are toddlers or college students – to fail, as painful as that may be for us, can be one of the best gifts we can give them.

How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success by Julie Lythcott-Haims

Lythcott-Haims recounts her concerns as a freshman college dean as she saw the trend of more and more students who were incapable of making decisions and solving problems on their own.  These students were dependent on their parents, who were instantly available either virtually or in person. She wondered what would happen if these students became adults who continued to need their parents to tell them what to do next.

Out to Sea: A Parent’s Survival Guide to the Freshman Voyage by Kelly Radi

Radi uses the metaphor of a ship setting sail to help parents understand, and become more comfortable with, the process of helping their child start out, and succeed, in college. They will feel reassured that they are not alone in their worries, they will have solid suggestions for solutions, and they will be ready wave “bon voyage” knowing that their student is in a better place to succeed.

You’re On Your Own, But I’m Here If You Need Me by Marjorie Savage

As both a college parent and a college services professional herself, Savage is able to understand both the world of parent concerns and the world of college.  She helps parents understand the new world their student is entering and also helps them take a new look at their child as he/she enters this stage of life.

There Is Life After College: What Parents and Students Should Know About Navigating School and Preparing for the Jobs of Tomorrow by Jeffrey Selingo

Beginning to think about life after college even before college can make the college years even more meaningful and productive.

It’s the Student Not the College: The Secrets of Succeeding at Any School Without Going Broke or Crazy by Kristin White

Important reading for college parents, but even more important reading for high school parents whose students are still in the midst of the admission process.  According to the author, “the message at the heart of this book (is) that success is within a person’s own power and will not be determined by the college (a student) attends.”

These are just a few of our favorites.  But, don’t take our word for it.  Check out our Resources page for many more options.  There’s plenty of good advice out there!


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