Q & A with Harlan Cohen: Advice for Parents of Upcoming Freshmen

campuschat recap

Harlan is a New York Times bestselling author, syndicated advice columnist, and author of #1 book on college life,  The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issue You Might Run Into in College.  He has helped millions of students and their parents navigate life in college.  He has spoken on hundreds of campuses, written six books,  recorded tons of videos, and an online Boot Camp for college bound students and parents. Click here for the complete #campuschat transcript from July 15, 2015.


Q & A from #CampusChat with Harlan Cohen

Q1 How does a parent’s role change when their student goes off to college? #CampusChat

A1 A parent shifts to a supporting role. Less directing, more listening. You are the director of transition #CampusChat

A1 High schools don’t prepare students for transition. This is everything that happens after selection. #CampusChat

A1 Most students struggle. Parents need to know this. They get homesick, lone-ly, and feel overwhelmed. #CampusChat

A1 But a parent can only be a great partner if a parent knows the information. #CampusChat

A1 Parents are now first responders. That means a parent needs to know how to respond. Soak up the resources. #CampusChat

A1 Share them with your college student when needed. Think people, places, and patience. Who are the 5 people who can help your child?

A1 Where are the three places your child can get help? How long will it take to get comfortable with the uncomfortable?

A1 Parents should not fix problems. They should point, suggest, and recommend, but a kid needs to fix. That’s hard.


Q2 What discussions should parents have before their student leaves for college? #CampusChat

A2 Plan a road trip. Take your kid with you. Drive. Don’t fly. Go to a mall that’s far away. Trap & talk. #campuschat

A2 Questions: What do you want to happen this year? What’s your plan? #Cam-pusChat

A2 Questions: Anything making you uncomfortable? Anything you’re looking for-ward to? #CampusChat

A2 Questions Who are the people on campus who can help? Where are the places you can find help? #CampusChat

A2 What can I do to help? #CampusChat

Q3 How can parents ease their minds about risky behavior and campus safety? #CampusChat

A3 Today’s students are better behaved and take fewer risks (not newsworthy). You were the ones who behaved the worst. #CampusChat

A3 Still, you should be concerned and need to ask questions. #CampusChat

A3 Schools are vigilant and educating new students. There is an emphasis on safe, sober, and intervention. #CampusChat

A3 Talk about your concerns with your child. Sex? Alcohol? Assault? Ask ques-tions using Naked Roommate as a guide. #campuschat

A3 Blame it on me. What’s your plan to be safe? Encourage them to read the campus newspaper from last year. #CampusChat

A3 The first month and the last month will give your child a ton of information. #CampusChat

Q4 How can parents prepare for move-in day? #CampusChat

A4 Ship stuff. Big stuff can be delivered. Ask about shipping. It can be less ex-pensive than buying and taking. #CampusChat

A4 Talk to parents who did it last year. Use your college’s parent online re-sources. Each school has their tricks. #CampusChat

A4 Talk to the residence hall staff. Follow their suggestions. No new ideas. #CampusChat

A4 Have a plan for the goodbye. Don’t sob. Show your feelings, but don’t make yourself the center of attention. #CampusChat

A4 Oh, and wait for them text you. There is nothing you need to text that you ha-ven’t already said #CampusChat

Q5 What can parents typically expect from their student during the first few months of college? #CampusChat

A5 Each student is different. Don’t compare your kids. BIG MISTAKE. It’s a roller coaster of emotions. #CampusChat

A5 Expect the unexpected. Some students have no problems. Others struggle later. #CampusChat

A5 Rename the first year the getting comfortable year. It allows room for things to not always be perfect. #CampusChat

A5 Expect children who have struggled with transition to have some bumps the first few months. #CampusChat
A5 Anticipate the bumps, plan for the bumps, and get help before problems arise. Think people, places, and patience to prepare. #CampusChat

Q6 How should parents stay in touch with their college student? How often? #CampusChat

A6 Ask your child this question. Listen. Be willing to change what you want based on your child’s response #CampusChat

A6 Find people in your corner and find your places so you’re not all-consumed with your child. #CampusChat

A6 Beware for the 5th wall. This is when your child is physically at school, but emotionally with you. Don’t enable. #CampusChat

A6 Ask the best way to communicate. Respect their boundaries. #CampusChat

A6 NEVER reprimand your child in public. Nothing negative on facebook or in-stagram. You’ll be cut off. #CampusChat

Q7 How can parents get involved in college life without intruding on their fresh-man’s space? #CampusChat

A7 Give your child permission to tell you the truth. A lot of students don’t tell parents the truth because they’re scared.

A7 Especially if you’re paying for college. Make it clear that you want to know the truth. #CampusChat

A7 Give problems 24 hours. Give them time to marinate in their problems (makes you seasoned). #CampusChat

A7 Ask what your child wants he or she wants you to do when calling. Listen? Offer advice? Take action? #CampusChat

A7 Sometimes they want to vent. Make sure the right parent is on the phone. #CampusChat

Q8 What types of mental health issues should parents look for during freshman year? #CampusChat

A8 Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. 1/3 of students are so depressed it’s hard to function #Campuschat

A8 Changes in sleep, eating, weight, interests, grades, friendships, relationships, lack of motivation, #CampusChat

A8 ALL students should have a therapist in their corner. We get medical check ups. We should have mental health check ups. #CampusChat

A8 Find a specialist in the community and give the info to your child. Just in case. #CampusChat

A8 Visit campus once a semester. Walk down the hallways together. Walk around a campus. Listen. Watch. Observe. #CampusChat

Q9 Can you give 3 tips for parents to stay involved and avoid “overparenting” their college freshman? #CampusChat

A9 Make sure YOU have your 5 people and 3 places. Have support, interests, and a life that fills you up. #CampusChat

A9 Practive asking your child the question, “What do you think you should do?” Let them answer. No interrupting. #CampusChat

A9 You can direct them to the resources, but they need to take action. #Cam-pusChat

A9 Their victories belong to you, their struggles belong to them. A parent shared this. Give them room to struggle. #CampusChat

A9 Safely struggling is the ultimate education. It’s a gift. #CampusChat

A9 High schools get student into school, but they don’t teach them how to transi-tion. That’s our job. #CampusChat

A9 Check out my resources for parents at www.HarlanCohen.com. I have a free mini-course for parents. #CampusChat

A9 Here’s the student webinar sign up: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/6630820743407513858.

A9 Here’s the parent webinar sign up: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/5564520963768634370.

A9 I’m also launching a Naked Roommate Boot Camp to help! Send me your email and I’ll put you in the list. #campuschat

A9 Thank you! #CampusChat

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