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Letting Go: A Parents' Guide to Understanding the College Years
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Letting Go: A Parents' Guide to Understanding the College Years

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  211 ratings  ·  40 reviews

This bestselling guide, read by hundreds of thousands of parents over the past decade, is now better than ever, newly revised and completely updated. Based on real-life experience and recommended by colleges and universities around the country, Letting Go offers compassionate, practical, and up-to-the-minute information to help parents with the emotional and social change

Paperback, Fourth Edition, 448 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by Harper Paperbacks (first published April 1988)
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Jan 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Parents of HS Seniors and College Freshmen
Recommended to Justin by: Colorado State University
I read this book during my second semester of my Freshman year of college at Colorado State University (Spring 2002), as a part of the curriculum for our Orientation Leader training class. It taught me so much about how parents and family members experience the transition of having their student go through college, and provided me at the time with a much stronger understanding of what was happening in my life and with my relationships to my parents.

I am currently re-reading the fifth edition of
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although some of the content is fairly predictable and obvious, the book covers multiple stages of the college and young adult experience so that it seems useful. I think it can help a parent to be able to identify possible causes of friction in the parent child relationship and not blow things out of proportion, or to identify patterns of behavior as normal and adaptive vs. poor coping in need of intervention. For me it helps to decide what factors may play a role in our soon-to-be student's co ...more
Maura Muller
Super helpful and insightful. Wish I had read it last year before sending our son off to college, but there are still lots of interesting observations and suggestions for sophomore, junior, senior year, vacations and visits home. Great list of resources in the back. I think this would actually be great for the students to read too if they could find the time. This and The Naked Roommate: and 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into In College by Harlan Cohen. Both kids and their parents would be pret ...more
Noelle Merritt
Jun 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is sort of the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" for those of us sending our teenagers off to college. Nothing too shocking, but it was good to read the anecdotes from folks who have done this already.
Oct 03, 2017 rated it liked it
The book is filled with examples/quotes from various specific student or administrator experiences. Parents who went to college themselves won't find anything surprising or particularly informative.
Oct 17, 2009 rated it liked it
very thorough discussion, chronologically organized from searching for colleges through searching for jobs after graduation, of what it's like for parents to let go of their kids. The authors work in student services at a private university, and the overall tone is a compassionate, empathic "here's what your kids may be unable to tell you about what it's like for them".

Many many vignettes/extended quotes from students and parents to liven up the narrative. Would probably work well as a reference
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good, practical overview of the issues and challenges faced by both parents and kids from the application process to college graduation, written by a freshman dean and a therapist from Washington University in St. Louis. I liked their focus on the complex emotions and intangibles, and they cover almost every possible scenario. After a while, though, the number anecdotes got overwhelming, and I found the last half slow going. A little more authorial digestion of the material might be helpful in ...more
Dec 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, nonfiction
I think my youngest sister gave this book to our mom when she was at this stage of life and then my mom gave it to me many years ago since one day I too would be at this stage. With a high school senior this year, I decided now would be the time to read it! The version I have was published in 1997 so some parts were very outdated (email was a new and exciting thing!) so I skimmed over those chapters but a lot of it was still relevant. My biggest takeaway was to listen and empathize. Try not to g ...more
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My son's college recommended this book. The beginning, where the author spends many pages describing the differences between the parents' generation and the current generation going to college was boring and obvious, but can be easily skimmed. I thought the rest of the book was well written and insightful. It does a good job of explaining all the possible behaviors and feelings that teenagers experience at this time, and includes discussions of many possible problems that may occur. It probably ...more
Sep 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Though I didn't read this cover to cover, I've revisited different parts of it over the last year as I prepared to send my oldest son to college. Parts of it were a bit of overkill for me, but many parts provided a reminder of proper perspective at times when I needed it - like how much strife you can have with your child during that last summer, and that it's a normal part of the separation process. I've recommended it to others in the same situation and will continue to do so.
Don LaFountaine
Apr 15, 2013 rated it liked it
As a parent whose only child went off to college, the book was helpful in some areas. Some areas did not apply to myself and my wife, but that was to be expected. It wasn't the type of book one sits down with a comforter, a glass of cocoa and a blanket and enjoys reading. I think it would have been more helpful if we had read the book when our son was a senior in high school instead of a freshman in college.
Oct 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this as I sent my oldest child to college. It was a very emotional time regardless of the fact that intellectually I knew it was all good. I still had a hard time. I recommend for all in this same position. I guess it is helpful to read that what one is going through is perfectly normal and happens to a lot of parents. It gives good advice on how to handle things (the good-bye) and what to expect.
I must have read something about this book when I added it a few years ago. Maybe I should have read it a few years ago, but now I didn't find anything new or really anything definite, just a lot of choices, options. There are lots of quotes from students and parents that I didn't really care about. And even though I am reading the I did a lot of skimming and flipping around. Besides, I have a son who knows it all, anyway!
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book that provides perspective on sending your child to college. The parallels are drawn about "Letting Go" from the first time you drop them off to preschool to the journey that moves them into the dorm room. Parent comments let you know you are not alone in your experience and that each child is different. The book also provides guidance about what has changed about going away to school in the decades since parents left for college.
Mar 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure what I was hoping for, exactly--I'm certainly not the intended audience, but was curious how the college experience is being explained to parents. I saw the author speak a couple months back and she was quite smart and caring. She mentioned that an update will be published next year, which I would be interested in skimming, although I found this book's "one kid said this, another kid said that" style a bit tedious.
Apr 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a senior in HS and in College. This was great, made me relax and see that my son is normal and all his outlandish stories were actually really close to what this book brought out and up. Growing up is not easy to do, neither is letting go. My only complaint is that the book was just a bit longer than needed. Heavy on the Freshman year, but included all the rest as well. Good information of different options all the way through.
Aug 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
I found nothing too insightful or surprising here, but perhaps the book did help to give me a glimpse of experiences that may occur on both ends (at home and college.) The direct quotes from parents and students were pretty good, though there were many more than necessary to make a point which resulted in me skimming over much of the book.
Carol Byrd
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This isn't a book I chose to read but rather HAD to read. I was unprepared for the depression I felt after sending my oldest to college, and this book helped me to realize my feelings were normal, and also gave helpful hints as to what changes to expect from my son and our relationship. I think there were a few too many "real world" stories and confess I skipped some.
Nov 07, 2010 rated it liked it
My older son's university mailed us a copy of this book before his freshman. I finally got around to reading it six years later as we were preparing to send our third child off to college. My edition was a little dated (it suggested writing letters to the student!!), but still had some good advice on how to support my child through this transition.
This was pretty good, but much of it just wasn't applicable to my situation. My daughter isn't living in a dorm or even with a roommate so the horror stories of bad roommates weren't necessary, and I didn't really see how that stuff would be helpful even if she were. I think it would have been helpful to have checklists, helpful strategies, and "Do's and Don'ts" rather than just stories.
Dec 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Such a helpful guide for the summer before college take-off! It really helps you and your child understand what kinds of questions to ask, topics to discuss both before they go and once they get there and run into challenges.
Lisa Milo
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
A little slow at the beginning but I found this book invaluable when it got to the part leading up to freshman year and your child's adjustment period......hopefully I'm ready to send my first off to college!!
Jaime Contreras
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Everyone with a college bound child NEEDS to read this book. It is both insightful and easy to grasp. Remember, you are not alone. This book combines counseling, guidance, narratives, references and practical adice for the parent.
Marilee Steffen
My daughter shared this book with me as she sent her first born off to college. It refreshed insights from my own time as a mother sending her children off into adulthood. I enjoyed reading the comments of parents and students, which to me as a grandparent, show this dynamic is ageless.
Jan 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will definitely re-read this when Riley is closer to college. I like how it tells how different personality types (both parents and kids) might react to the situations of going to college.
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
A good read as you prepare for this transition. Some of it obvious...most of it reassuring.
Apr 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every parent of a 12th grader should read this book!
Sep 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: every parent
A book every parent should be required to read. A great help through the process of letting your "almost grown" children take flight.
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Not a for-fun book. But helped me put things in perspective. Will be useful to re-read this before he comes home for the summer.
Great for first parents with their first child going off to college.
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