Book Review by Karen D. Koch
Book by Alex Chediak
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2011
Available at the HSLDA bookstore and Amazon

As much as we enjoy homeschooling, one day the kids will complete high school. Then what? Most will head off to college,  jobs,  vocational school, or the military.  All of them will face challenges as they enter their new life. For those who choose the college route, I highly recommend Thriving at College by Alex Chediak. The Foreward begins, “College can be a wonderful and dangerous place.”

I wish this book had been written before I left for college back in the fall of 1985.  Professor Chediak has written what I think should be required reading for parents andthriving-at-college high school seniors alike, preferably before going to college. The copy I recently bought is in a care package, addressed to my son who is currently a freshman in college in a neighboring state, so we’re a bit behind on that. Because it’s a Christian-based guide, I have no hesitations recommending it to parents of teens considering or getting ready for college. I would actually have your children read it regardless of their career/college path as so many relevant life topics are covered. I’ve included a bookmark that says, “Read this and save for your younger siblings.”

This extremely practical and encouraging book talks directly to his audience of teenagers heading to college for the first time. As a professor at California Baptist University, Chediak knows his audience, and is attuned better than many parents to just what their teens are facing at college. The author hits on a lot of important topics including money and time management, picking a major, making best use of free time, relationships with the opposite sex, and much more. He also guides the reader through the advantages and disadvantages of attending a secular college.

The book is organized well and is encouraging and practical without being preachy. Larger sections are entitled College Matters, Relationships Matter, Character Matters, and Academics Matter, with sub-sections labeled Common Mistakes 1-10. Looking back on my college years, I think I managed fairly well, but several topics are discussed that I didn’t give much thought to in my youth. I certainly could have done better in some areas. Now that college has become so outrageously expensive, for example, Chediak’s money-management and decisions chapter is particularly relevant. I completed college with no debt in 1989, but doing that now is a much larger challenge, and students need to be savvy and resourceful to manage college finances.

As a Christian mom wanting my homeschooled children to follow the Lord, I very much appreciate the candid and encouraging tone of the author toward matters of faith. He addresses both secular and Christian schools and how they will both challenge your student’s faith.

From the publishers: “Going to college can be exciting, anxiety inducing, and expensive! You want your child to get the most out of their college experience–what advice do you give? Filled with wisdom and practical advice from a seasoned college professor and student mentor, Thriving at College covers the ten most common mistakes that college students make–and how to avoid them! . . .In a nutshell, Thriving at College is about how college students can launch into responsible, fruitful adulthood for the glory of God against the backdrop of a young adult culture that often values perpetual adolescence and the avoidance of responsibility. “

Reviewer Karen Koch wishes she had found this book before her first son finished college. Son number two just went away to college in August, so Mom is putting this on his reading list for Christmas break! There’s still time for the two youngest to read it as they aren’t yet in high school.

Available in the HSLDA bookstore