Book Review, The Naked Roommate by Harlan Cohen
Book Review by Lael Adediji, Ed.D.
The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College. (2015). Harlan Cohen. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks. 541pp. Price $14.99. ISBN-13: 978-1-4926-1332-9 www.sourcebooks.com.
In many ways, starting college is like starting a new life as students adjust to new expectations, more rigorous courses, new roommates in the residence halls, and life away from home. The Naked Roommate And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College by Harlan Cohen is an excellent resource for new college students and the advisors and faculty who work with them. In addition, it is a good training resource for residence hall staff who need to understand the range of issues their residents may experience.
The book is intended for new students entering college, primarily focused on freshmen living on campus. The author offers 106 tips (and space for you to offer the 107th tip) on dealing with a variety of challenges a student may face including dealing with professors, classes, relationships, sex, and drugs. Every tip comes with a short first hand story as told by a student with the experience. For instance, there is a story about a student who runs into their roommate in a compromising position with a romantic partner. There is another story (Tip #79) about a student whose friend nearly dies from alcohol poisoning. All of chapter 12 focuses on finances and money management. My favorite tip and the one I feel is most relevant to new students is Tip #3, which deals with getting connected on campus, but I won't spoil it for you.
Cohen's book is written with a conversational tone with plenty of first-hand stories, which makes this 541-page book engaging and easy to read. While it clearly addresses common freshmen challenges, it doesn't hit on some of the more difficult topics such as racism, sexism, and political unrest on campus. It wrestles with the feeling of social isolation, but not as much with feelings of imposterism or that college is not for YOU. This is an issue on my campus which has a very high population of first generation and low income students. Although Tip #3 will help alleviate these feelings, the issue is one that students, especially those from non-traditional backgrounds should understand.
Because this book is a great way for entering students to understand what to expect, my program will purchase a copy for each new participant. We will review key parts, especially Tip #3, and engage in discussion at our fall orientation.
Lael Adediji, Ed.D.
Renaissance Scholars Program
California State University, East Bay. Hayward, CA