Her Campus, the super-successful website for college women, has published The Her Campus Guide to College Life. Here’s why we love the book and the company.
A year ago, I felt creeping anxiety knowing that I had precious time remaining with my high school senior daughter. In a few short months my husband and I would load up the car, help her make up her awkwardly high twin bed, kiss her goodbye, and watch as she walked back into the dorm to officially begin freshman year. I had spent 18 years of motherhood trying to impart my life lessons to her as best as I could. Trouble was, when it came to college smarts, the expiration date on my collegiate experience was long overdue.
Fortunately the young women behind the super-successful college website, Her Campus, have filled a knowledge gap with the publication of their new book, The Her Campus Guide to College Life: How to Manage Relationships, Stay Safe and Healthy, Handle Stress, and Have the Best Years of Your Life
Her Campus Guide to College Life Review
They had me at “Safety”
I found The Her Campus Guide to College Life be a thorough, reliable and contemporary source for young women who arrive at college every fall with more questions than answers. Drawing from the experiences of the 5000 collegiate correspondents at 250 campuses who regularly contribute to the site, the book is divided into five parts and, yes, “Staying Safe in College” is the very first section. Never preachy, the writers offer resources and checklists to help young women move quickly up the college learning curve and as they cover topics on safety, health, relationships, social life, and money/career.
Who should read it?
The writers define their reader as
A college woman who is on top of her game – strategically career-minded, distinctly fashionable, socially connected, academically driven, and smartly health-conscious – and who endeavors to get the most out of her college experience on every level.
And doesn’t that pretty much sum up what we hope our daughters’ college experience will be? Written with the tone of a smart and caring older sister who has actually been there, done that (perhaps more than once!), it is filled with info that moms desperately want to give their off-to-college daughters but are ill-equipped to provide. With information that is relevant for all college women, this book makes a perfect graduation gift for any high school senior in your life.
Super Self Starters
Finally, one other reason why I am so impressed with, and can easily recommend the book, is due to the remarkable business story. The three founders, Stephanie Kaplan Lewis, Annie Chandler Wang, and Windsor Hanger Western, were classmates at Harvard College who met while working on a student lifestyle magazine. Their reputation spread to other campuses and inquiries poured in from college women who wanted to start similar publications at their schools. In 2009, they entered and won a Harvard competition for best new student idea and launched Her Campus later that year. In addition to creating a successful national media property, they provide opportunities for students to gain experience as journalists while in college, part of the formula that benefits both the contributors and the company.
Interview with Her Campus CEO
We were delighted to interview Stephanie Kaplan Lewis, co-founder, CEO and Editor in Chief of Her Campus about the book and college life. Our Q&A follows.
GF: As moms of college students, we want to remain close to our kids but don’t want to hover. Any advice to help us strike a good balance?
SKL: If your kids are willing, see if you can friend them on Facebook and/or follow them on Instagram or Twitter- these platforms will give you a nice window into what’s going on in your kids’ lives even when they don’t have time to call or text you. Another great tool is Gchat. Most college students use Gmail and have their laptops open A LOT, so being able to quickly “pop in” and say hi via Gchat feels less intrusive than a phone call.
GF: The most vulnerable time for collegiate women is reported to be from the first day of school until Thanksgiving break. What are the three most important things every freshman girl should do to stay safe during those first few months of school?
SKL:1. Program important phone numbers into your cell phone-the campus police department, campus escort service, local police department, etc. 2. Always use the buddy system when going out. Never go to a party alone and make sure you and a friend have a plan not to ditch one another and to leave the party together. 3. If you’re going to drink, alternate alcoholic drinks with water, no matter what.
GF: You included much about campus life but not much about academics. Any words of wisdom about picking a major? Should students have specific career goals in mind when they do or focus more on what subjects interest them?
SKL: Most college students have no idea what they want to do with their lives and that’s perfectly ok! Pick a major based on what interests you and what courses appeal to you. Don’t worry about trying to figure out what you want for a career, with the caveat that if you think you might want to go to med school, you should be sure you’re going to meet the pre-med requirements.
GF: Some girls (and guys) struggle in college and dropout. What are the biggest mistakes that students should avoid making to help keep them on track to graduate on time?
SKL: Get academic or mental health help before it’s too late. Don’t be embarrassed to need a tutor for a course or two (most colleges offer them for free) or to seek help from a mental health counselor at your school if you’re feeling off. Colleges offer these services for a reason, and there should not be any shame in taking advantage of these resources in order to stay happy and healthy at school.
GF: For girls who are high school seniors, what things should they be doing now to help them be very well prepared for starting school in the fall?
SKL: Get to know your roommate ahead of time via emails, Skype, calls, etc.- this will make it so you have one less “unknown” at the start of the school year. Get going on packing for college as early in the summer as possible so that you can enjoy your last couple weeks at home rather than spend them scrambling to track down sold-out twin XL sheets.
GF: For younger girls in high school, were there classes you took or activities you were part of that helped set you on the path that led to your success in school and with Her Campus?
My main extracurriculars in high school-varsity tennis and Mock Trial- were not pursuits I continued in college, but they taught me about work ethic and about leadership. Pick activities that excite you and that also challenge you and force you to work hard. These will serve you well on your college applications and in your future endeavors.
GF: As you were writing The Her Campus Guide to College Life, did you find that there have been changes in the college experience since you graduated in 2009?
SKL: I think the biggest change is the abundance of new social media that exists – Snapchat, Instagram, etc.- and the impact these can have both on your social life and relationships and on your career when it comes time for the job or internship hunt.
Bio for Her Campus/Co-Founders:
Stephanie Kaplan Lewis, Windsor Hanger Western and Annie Wang are the co-founders of Her Campus, the #1 global community for college women with 5.9+ million monthly users and chapters at 250+ colleges worldwide. They met as undergraduates at Harvard and launched Her Campus after winning the business plan competition there.
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