Young adults launching into the choppy sea of real life, can find the waters a little scary. Author Pat Walsh’s Going to College or Apprenticeship: A Guide for 17-year-old Leaving Home aims to help with these jitters.
This common sense guidebook tackles a range of topics, from guarding against depression to learning to manage money and time. Walsh urges students to learn basic cooking skills to boost nutrition, to save money and to carve up study sessions with 10-minute breaks every 50 minutes. The author also suggests listing personal strengths such as “helping others” as a way to boost sagging self-esteem. “Success in life is a very broad concept and there are many avenues to it,” Walsh writes.
The author wisely doesn’t attempt to be too hip in order to connect with readers—a device that almost always fails, as teenagers can quickly sniff out an older person trying too hard. Walsh also avoids the trap of being judgmental, instead matter-of-factly accepting that students will likely drink and advising that it’s best to learn personal limits. When it comes to sex, the author advises readers to proceed with caution, adding parenthetically that it could be with a same sex partner.
Unfortunately, the latter is one of the few references that add a contemporary feel to the book. There’s little that’s fresh here; the same advice with minor adjustments has been handed down to those leaving home for generations. In fact, the writing style can feel a bit like a well-meaning lecture from a grandparent or an old health class textbook. Although the messages are sound, using words like “good hygiene” and “deportment” will probably lose more than a few young readers.
While such issues make it unlikely this book will get packed away with the laptop and smartphone, Walsh deserves credit for at least trying to break down some life lessons into the kind of bite-size pieces that students can carry along on their journey.
Also available as an ebook.