Nov 23, 2016

A Parent’s Guide to Sex, Drugs, and Flunking Out: Answers to the Questions Your College Student Doesn’t Want You to Ask by Joel Epstein

a-parents-guide-to-sex-drugs-and-flunking-outDifficult roommates. Alcohol and drug use. Money matters. Academic pressure.

Helping your college-bound child make healthy choices-in the midst of newfound freedoms and unprecedented excesses-presents an entirely new area of parenting challenges.

Joel Epstein, a scholar and leader in the field of post-secondary student affairs, offers parents friendly and practical advice about assisting their children with the transition to college life.

Targeting parents of the college-bound, Epstein (former associate director, U.S. Department of Education’s Higher Education Ctr. for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention) considers many issues, including course selection, student credit cards, and the titular sex and drugs. The dramatic title belies Epstein’s gentle intent: “keeping open the lines of communication with your child will increase the probability that your child chooses the right school and makes the most of the college experience.”

Although he does include some abbreviated lists, like questions to ask administrators, (e.g., “Is alcohol sold on campus?”), this is not a how-to guide. Instead, it encourages thoughtful consideration of the multitude of issues facing college students and insightfully weaves material from interviewees pinpointing these concerns. While this will be eye-opening for some (“Gosh, there are raves on campuses?”), and most will find something of value, the book addresses many issues broadly instead of few substantively.

Although this book is targeted at parents with children about to enter college, Epstein rightly recommends that parents of younger children read it in preparation. Epstein emphasizes that not every child is ready for college right after graduating from high school. Some need the year off for remediation to sharpen study habits and basic skills, some in order to mature.

Using profiles of students and parents, Epstein provides direction in helping parents select the school that is right for their children in terms of academics, social environment, size, and proximity. By making wise selections, parents and students can help avoid depression and reliance on drugs and alcohol to cope with a college where the student doesn’t fit in.

Epstein includes research on alcohol and drug abuse among college students and reports on various colleges and universities regarding abuses in athletic programs and other issues. He also outlines the college visit, admissions process, tuition payment plans, financial aid and scholarships, and use and abuse of credit cards. A useful handbook.

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