Book by: Diana Trevouledes and Ingrid Grieger
Review by: Janis Albright
Student Success Advisor
Student Success Office
University of Southern Maine-Portland, ME

In the advising literature much has been written about why parents have been referred to as “helicopters”, but less has focused on how advisors can better support parents in helping their child’s transition from home to college life. Kepic (2006)

Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to read Success and Sanity on the College Campus: A Guide for Parents.  If you wish to help parents have meaningful conversations with their child about college expectations and also to understand how college “works”, then this book should be on your reference shelf.  Authors Trevouledes and Grieger, two mental health experts, can help advisors apply a set of parent’s lenses to view the “mysteries” of college life, its bureaucracy, and its own educational jargon.

The book’s overarching message is for parents to have good communication with their child.  The authors refer to a survey which “indicated that 67% (of college students) reported that they would turn to parents for help when they experienced stress…” to help remind parents that they are an important support player (as cited in mtvU AP 2009 Economy, College Stress, and Mental Health Poll). 

One strength of this book is its depth of information on cultivating the student’s emotional wellness.   The chapters explain how to be aware of signs of depression, suicidal tendencies, and addiction.  Parents learn how to take action and which college services can help, if needed.

As an Advisor, I liked the book’s wellness chapters. Some suggestions that I can remind parents about are: “Many students worry about burdening their parents with their problems… Even if they choose not to reach out to you, giving them permission leaves a pathway open and provides relief” (p.126).  Another idea to consider is: “Negotiate with your son or daughter about the frequency of contact you will have with him or her... lets your child know that you are interested in maintaining contact, while also respecting his or her privacy…” (p. 127).

The authors also guide parents on practical aspects such as how to select a school, campus life, financial aid, student affairs, safety, and other services. These chapters could be a perfect complement to a college’s orientation program.

Another strength is that the book recognizes how communication strategies may differ within other cultures. While its major message about using open communication is constant, “how” this occurs varies in diverse populations.  Minority families often play a strategic role in supporting the success of their child (Irwin, 2012), so reaffirming various communication methods is an important point.

One small way to improve this already helpful book might be to bullet a few key points, at the end of each chapter, to reinforce main ideas. This format might help some multilingual parents or those who have not attended college before. 

As Academic Advisor Menezes (2005) explained, what we as advisors can offer is to “help parents understand that the advisor and the institution have the best interests of their student in mind.” This book can also remind advisors about the importance of parent support for student success, how to create positive and appropriate parent intervention if needed, and ways to nurture these relationships (Irwin, 2012). 

Irvin, M. (2012, December). A new attitude: Rethinking advisor interactions with parents. Academic Advising Today, 35(4). Retrieved from     http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/A-New-Attitude-Rethinking-Advisor-Interactions-with-Parents-.aspx

Kepic, G. (2006). Causes and Implications of Parental Involvement in the Advising Process. Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/tabid/3318/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/629/article.aspx

Menezes, M. D. (2005). Advisors and parents: Together building stronger advising relationships.Retrieved from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/tabid/3318/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/114/article.aspx

mtvU AP 2009 Economy, College Stress, and Mental Health Poll 

Success and Sanity on the College Campus: A Guide for Parents. (2012), Book by Diana Trevouledes and Ingrid Grieger. Review by Janis Albright. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 164 pp., $27.00, (Hardback), ISBN # 978-1-61048-101-4

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