Review of Your Big Sister’s Guide to Surviving College

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big-sisters-guideI recently read an invaluable resource for young women entering college. It’s a book called Your Big Sister’s Guide to Surviving College by Christie Glasgoe Crowder. Christie is a Certified Life Coach and motivational consultant. She’s also a close online friend of mine, whom I admire greatly. Her words of wisdom come from personal experience, and she gives extremely useful and readable advice on every aspect of college life, from academics to sex. There’s even a chapter for parents.

The book was actually written for Christie’s very own little sister, Kelly, but the message is for every young woman heading off to school for the first time. Christie doesn’t talk down or preach; she’s very straight-to-the-point and doesn’t pull any punches. But she does it all with warmth and humor that I know you’ll appreciate. Here’s a synopsis of the book with some of my favorite excerpts.

For Parents

The very first chapter is dedicated to the parents who are sending their baby girls off into the big, bad world all alone. Christie’s main advice to mom and dad is to keep the channels of communication open and to allow their daughters the opportunity to explore and to make mistakes. It’s impressive that Christie chooses to address the parents right away. She covers all kinds of parent/child relationships, including “no college/some college parents”, “parents of the superstar”, and “parents of the ne’er-do-well.” She tells parents that it’s important to cultivate a good relationship with their daughter before she leaves home and says,”If you don’t, she’ll be looking for that love, attention, approval, and acceptance in all the wrong places.” This couldn’t be more true.

The Reason for Going to College

The next chapter addresses the question many students ask, “Why am I going to college anyway?” Christie tells her own story of wanting to be an interior designer versus her parents desire for her to attend a liberal arts college in order to illustrate the importance of knowing yourself. She raises a good point about getting a grasp on your motivations before heading off to school and points out that the availability of the internet really allows students to research their options these days, unlike when she and I were undergrads!

College Transition

“Adjusting to Campus Life” is the next chapter and gives practical advice on going away to school. You’ll learn what to pack, what to expect, why it’s important to learn to do your laundry and clean up after yourself, and why it’s a good idea to live on campus for awhile. Christie also covers taking care of yourself – mind, body, and soul. I particularly like the section on soul, as this is a topic that is rarely addressed in educational resources. Here, Christie says, “Trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel quite right, it probably isn’t. ” The best advice, ever. You’ll also learn about money matters and social life in this chapter.

Academics and Fun

The next two chapters address what Christie considers the first and second most important reasons for going to college – academics and having fun. You’ll benefit from her take on organization and scheduling of classes. Christie gives some great advice on studying and working with professors, as well as with classmates. She also covers why it’s important to get to know your adviser. See, I’m not the only one who thinks so!

The chapter on “Having a Good Time” is amazingly thorough and insightful. Here, Christie talks openly, in a big sisterly kind of way, about drinking, relationships, partying, traveling, and sex. Yes, she goes there, in a way that’s not wishy washy or preachy. Here’s an excerpt from the book just to give you a feel for the tone used.

Sex is not quality time. Beware of the guy who only wants to see you at night.

If your so-called boyfriend never takes you out to public places or never introduces you to his friends, he is only with you for one reason…DROP HIM!

If your so-called boyfriend does nothing, but harp on your looks and show you off to his friends, but never spends any serious quality time with you…bye-bye! You are no trophy.

No means no…I don’t care how long you have been together! Forcing you to have sex when you do not want to is RAPE! Apology not accepted! You let him do it once; I promise you it will happen again!

I told you she didn’t pull any punches. It’s a great read that anyone can relate to.

Final Thoughts

There is a short chapter where Christie talks in more detail to you about communicating with your family. This is such an essential aspect of the college experience that is often neglected in other books. She ends the book with “Final Pearls of Wisdom”. Here she touches on self-esteem and how the entire contents of her book revolve around it. Self-esteem is woven into the fabric of every choice you make in college. I can’t stress enough the importance of learning to understand, know, and forgive yourself. Christie deals with this wonderfully. Also found in this final chapter are resources for additional reading, learning, fun, and support.

Your Big Sister’s Guide to Surviving College is a phenomenal resource for women going off to college and on their own for the first time. It may not cover every developmental aspect of the college experience, but it’s not meant to. Christie set out to write a practical guidebook for her own little sister, based on personal experience. This is a book I wish I had before becoming a college student. It’s certainly one I would have recommended to my own students as an academic adviser. Consider picking it up for yourself or for a loved one.


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