For 10 years (and counting), The Naked Roommate has been the #1 go-to guide for your very best college experience!
From sharing a bathroom with 40 strangers to sharing lecture notes, The Naked Roommate is your behind-the-scenes look at EVERYTHING you need to know about college (but never knew you needed to know).
This essential, fully updated edition is packed with real-life advice on everything from making friends to managing stress. Hilarious, outrageous, and telling stories from students on over 100 college campuses cover the basics, and then some, including topics on
- College Living: Dorm dos, don'ts, and dramas
- Finding People, Places, & Patience: Friend today, gone tomorrow
- Classes: To go or not to go?
- Dating: The Rules for College Love
- The Party Scene: Sex, drugs, and safety first
- Money: Grants, loans, and loose change
In college, there's a surprise around every corner. Luckily, The Naked Roommate has you covered!
This college survival guide is perfect if you are looking for 18th birthday gifts, or high school graduation gifts for him or for her. This freshman survival guide is one of the best dorm room gifts you can give to help them start college off right.
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About the Author
HARLAN COHEN is The New York Times bestselling author of The Naked Roommate series and six other titles. His books have sold over 1 million copies in print in multiple languages. Harlan is a speaker who helps thousands of students, parents, educators, and professionals every year. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Before College TV.
Read an Excerpt
The Naked Roommate
And 107 Other Issues You Might Run into in College
By Harlan Cohen
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2015 Harlan Cohen
All rights reserved.
Arriving on Campus
So Real You Can Smell It, Touch It, and Taste It
How much of a change is college from high school life? Is it a hard change to make?
— Curious about College
If you grew up sharing a room with a total stranger, eating breakfast in a cafeteria-style kitchen, going to classes with hundreds of people, coming home whenever you want, staying out as late as you want, bringing random guys or girls back to your room, wearing shower shoes, and being accountable to no one but yourself twenty-four hours a day, college life should be little if any different than life in high school. If you are not doing these things — it's different, very different.
The biggest difference between high school and college life is that you're in control. What you do in college is your choice. Who you want to do it with is your choice. When you want to do it is your choice. It's adult life, but with a safety net. Some people move too fast, some people move slowly, but no matter the speed you choose to go, if you find yourself losing your footing or heading out of control, you are surrounded by people who will help and support you.
As for change, I have a hard time with it. The only things I felt comfortable changing in college were my socks and underwear, assuming they were clean (a rare occurrence). The secret is to know yourself well enough to know what to expect. For example, if you're someone who has a history of having a hard time with change, expect college to be a challenging transition and get support in place before you need it. If you can handle change well, expect fewer problems, but be prepared for the unexpected. Experiencing so many firsts so fast can be unpredictable. But once you find your people and places in college, you'll probably never want to leave! College can be the best four, five, or six years of your life — hope it doesn't last six or more.
Expect the Unexpected
Don't create too many expectations. You might think that you know what will happen in college, but really, you don't.
I left for college expecting my high school boyfriend and I to stay together forever. Well, we ended up breaking up in December of my freshman year. I had always gotten As in high school classes. It was easy for me. I left for college expecting to do the same amount of work in college as I did in high school (not all that much) and to get the same grades. In reality, I've never had to work harder and no longer always get the A. I thought my friendships in college would be the same as they were in high school. But I soon learned that it takes time to develop those same kinds of friendships. Once I stopped expecting so much and started expecting the unexpected, college got so much better.
— freshman, Northwestern University
* * *
I know, you didn't expect the unexpected to be the first tip.
Welcome to your college experience. Right now, you're on that upward climb, preparing for a wild ride. It's like a roller coaster moments away from running at top speed down the tracks, and unless you're able to handle the unexpected twists and turns ahead of you, you risk running off the tracks or just getting sick to your stomach. Not good.
While it's unnatural to leave for college with NO expectations, try leaving with flexible but BIG expectations. If your expectations are too rigid, when the unexpected pops its head up (and it will), you'll snap or possibly break. If you begin college with flexible expectations and can move with the unexpected twists and turns, the ride ahead will take you to places you never imagined. And make sure to dream big. You'll be surprised where you might end up if you plant the seed early. (I ended up as an intern at The Tonight Show, a syndicated advice columnist, and New York Times bestselling author — nothing I had ever imagined.)
"Attend summer pre-orientation. I went to a summer camp with 300 of my future classmates and spent four days playing games, singing songs, and basically laughing and celebrating."
— grad, University of New Hampshire
If you and I were close enough that I could grab you by your shoulders and talk to you, I'd tell you exactly what I wish I could have told myself before heading to college.
Enjoy every minute.
Your job is simple:
Be your personal best,
Meet lots of people,
Make new friends,
Make smart decisions,
Possibly find a career,
Possibly find love,
And take risk after risk after risk so that you can figure out what you love and what you don't love. Expect that all the risks you take will not always go as planned. Many will, but not all. When a risk doesn't go as planned, don't go on the attack, don't give up and hide — look inward, look outward, and move forward. Do this again and again and you'll leave college with more than a degree. You'll leave knowing what it takes for you to be happy. And really, what more could you possibly want out of your life in college?
When you expect the unexpected, everything is an adventure.
Patience, Patience, and More Patience
Don't expect everything to happen at once. It takes time.
Freshman year, I came to college expecting everyone to be friends right away and for it all to be great, because that's the way they built it up in high school. They made us think college was going to be a perfect place. I got here and expected to wake up in the morning and love my classes, love my roommate, and love my friends, but I didn't — everything was not perfect. It took me a while to realize that it takes time. It took me a while to find friends — and I mean real friends, not just acquaintances. One of my friends lived in my hall, another one was in my classes, and another one was in theater crew. There was a defining moment our sophomore year when we realized we were such close friends. It happened on Valentine's Day; we were having dinner because none of us had a boyfriend. That's when we realized how close we had become. It still took a while before we could have screaming fights and know that it would be all right. Now, they are like family. It all took time. It also took me until junior year to realize what I wanted to do with my life. It might sound stupid, but I had to learn to chill out. I had to relax and let it all happen.
— junior, Brandeis University
* * *
I put this tip at the beginning of the book for you impatient people. I know you're contemplating skipping ahead to the dating, drugs, sex, relationships, managing your checking account ... Wait.
Rename the first year THE UNCOMFORTABLE YEAR. Then, you can be more patient. I know, you want it all NOW. Google the word "patience" and you'll get 40 million results in less than .45 seconds. Texting, Tinder, Snapchat — it's all instant gratifcation. But college is different.
I know, you want friends, grades, and the good life as soon as possible. While you might want it right away, appreciate that it doesn't always happen that way. New takes time. Like breaking in a new pair of shoes, a new pair of jeans, a crisp textbook, or a firm mattress fitted with extra-long twin sheets, it takes time for it all to feel right.
"The first year is a strange time for everyone. Let things roll off you."
— senior, Webster University
Don't give it two weeks or even two months. Give it two semesters, or two years. I know — two years sounds like a ridiculous amount of time, but it can take two revolutions around the sun to find your people and places on campus. Comfortable takes time. When you get to college and begin discovering that everything doesn't feel comfortable immediately, know that it's normal. Things like finding your way around campus, finding your classes, finding professors you like, finding a major that keeps you awake in class, finding great friends (or good ones), finding a roommate you actually like being around, and finding the cheapest wings, best breadsticks, and fastest pizza delivery takes time.
If you're looking to speed up the process, leave for college with a plan. The plan should include three parts: Places, People, and Patience. Having patience will give you time to get comfortable with the uncomfortable that's part of the normal college experience. Having places (campus clubs, organizations, athletics, spiritual groups, etc.) will give you things to do once you arrive on campus. Having people in your corner (at least five) will give you a support system at all times. With places, people, and patience, you'll be ready to create your own college experience and handle anything that comes your way. Use what you loved doing in high school to guide you to the right people and places. There's more about this in Tip #3.5. It took me three semesters, two campuses, and two freshman years to figure it out. I was totally impatient. I either tried way too hard or just stopped trying. Had I only known, I could have been so much more patient and kinder to myself.
Take good shoes, a favorite pillow, and lots of patience with you to college. You'll need them all to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Finding Your Three Places on Campus
Get involved, join something, and meet as many new people as possible.
"Try not to allow your fear to consume you. If you follow what's in your heart, then you're on the right track. Just don't hold back."
— junior, St. Peters College
My senior year of high school was amazing. I was the prom king, president of my senior class, and King of the Year. I was dating a beautiful runner who was a state champion, I received more scholarships than I could count, and I set a school record in backstroke — as the first student from my school to go to state in years. Needless to say, I was feeling good! Yet, immediately when I went to college, everything tottered and fell apart. No one knew me, not many of my friends went here, and my girlfriend broke up with me within two weeks. I wandered around pining and depressed for weeks, trying to figure out what had gone wrong. The moment I got involved with freshman orientation, a student organization on campus, everything turned around. I had new friends, a sense of purpose, and found my place at a huge university. Get involved with something that feels right and make as many new contacts as possible. It opens up a world of opportunity and creates strong new friendships. College went from a scary and foreboding realm to a place that I can call home.
— junior, Indiana University
"When I first came here, they gave us a book that had events to go to. I went to a step show, I went to an ice cream social, and I went to some parties at the union and ran into some people I knew from a summer college program that I went to when I was in high school. I went to a poetry reading with my roommate and a girl I met through her. We also met a couple new girls who were sitting behind us."
— freshman, Ohio State University
* * *
Given that this is only the third tip, it's not a good idea for me to call this the most important tip of the book — then you might decide not to read the rest, throw the book away, burn it (why so angry?), or just return it. I'll just mention that this tip is extremely important.
Finding your places is so important — because if you have no place, you'll end up lost, and if you're lost with no place, there isn't anywhere to go, and that's when you will want to go home.
Notice I wrote "places," not just one place. This is not a typo ("plazess" would be a typo). If you only have one place to go and the people in that place turn out to be complete morons, you'll either become a moron or hate this place. That's why you always need three places. If people in one place do something that makes you feel uncomfortable (examples: drinking, hazing, smoking crack), you can go someplace else. If you don't have other places to go, you might start doing things that surprise you. Find at least three places on campus to find connections and avoid doing crack.
In high school, everything seemed to just kind of fall into place. You might have found your places by participating in athletics, the student council, plays, debate, a student newspaper, academic clubs, or some kind of other activity. Your parents might have pushed you in a particular direction, or maybe it was a friend or older sibling who helped you get involved. But in college, you have to work to be the one to help yourself find your place. Without as many friends around and without as much structure to your day, it doesn't all just happen right away.
Start with what you love doing and go from there. Seek out the places where you were your best and most comfortable in high school. If you're athletic, figure out how you can get involved with club sports and intramurals (see Tip #31). If you're into academics, figure out how to get involved with academic clubs and organizations (see Tips #30 and #32). Having places creates a world of options. The more options you have, the easier it will be to make choices that fit your personality. Then you can say what you think and do what you feel without worrying about other people.
"I'm in a sports team, involved in student organizations, and I live on campus. If you're stuck in one group with people who don't share your goal or ideas about life, you have nowhere else to go."
— freshman, Kenyon College
Leave for college with a plan in mind for where you'll find your three places. Visit your campus's website, ask your advisors, talk to your RA, talk to the staff in the student activities office, ask a counselor in the counseling office. Talk to student ambassadors, grads from your high school, and students in leadership positions. Don't expect your college experience to magically come to you. You have to be the one to get up, get out, and get involved. You need to be the one to make it happen.
Attending college is like attending a live event that has general seating. The ticket gets you inside the venue. You have to be the one to put yourself in the center of all the action.
A Naked Pause
Here's the naked truth about college planning: Students are rarely told the truth. I'm not saying students are told lies; you're just not told about the natural, normal, and everyday challenges that are part of college life. This part isn't advertised. The truth is that college is 90 percent amazing and 10 percent difficult (or a bunch of BS). The problem is that the 10 percent BS can take up 100 percent of your time if you're not expecting it. It can take a good year, or two, or three, for expectations to meet reality.
For most new students, expectations are high when entering college. But once they arrive and settle in, reality can be lower. When reality doesn't meet expectations, we get uncomfortable and panic. And this is when one of two things happens: you try too hard to fit in and make poor choices or you become totally withdrawn and give up (can you say transfer or drop out?). The problem is that most students don't start college with realistic expectations and thus are set up for problems.
Excerpted from The Naked Roommate by Harlan Cohen. Copyright © 2015 Harlan Cohen. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Book Orientation: The Stuff before the Tips
Welcome High School and College Educators
About the Editorial Content
The Third Edition: 13 Percent More Nakedness
Third Edition Notes to Specific Readers
A Final Note to All Readers
First Page, First Tip, and First Days of College
Arriving on Campus: So Real You Can Smell It, Touch It, and Taste It
1. Expect the Unexpected
2. Patience, Patience, and More Patience
3. Finding Your Place on Campus
4. When Lost or Confused, Ask
5. Be Yourself: Not Me, Not Him, Not Her
6. About Your Parents
7. Homesickness: Breathe Deep, It's in the Air
8. Technology: The Fifth Wall
Residence Halls: Living, Eating, and Bathing with Hundreds of Strangers
9. Residence Halls: A Cruise without the Water
10. Meet People without Even Trying
11. Resident Assistants: Your Personal Assistant
12. Not All Residence Halls Are Created Equal
13. The Ugly Side of Residential Life
Roommates: Good Ones, Bad Ones, and Everything in Between
14. The Ultimate Roommate Rule
15. The Random Roommate
16. The Naked Roommate
17. The Best Friend Roommate
18. The Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Roommate (pick one)
19. The Noisy, Naughty, and/or Nasty Roommate
20. The Your Girlfriend/Boyfriend Doesn't Live Here Roommate
21. The Lying, Stealing, Klepto Roommate
22. The Drunk and/or High Roommate
23. The Roommate in Need
Finding Friends: Your Social or Antisocial College Life
24. The Snow Globe Factor
25. Shopping for New Friends
26. Why College Friends Are Different
27. Friend Today, Gone Tomorrow
28. High School Friends, Cows, and Cats
Getting Involved on Campus:
An All-You-Can-Do Buffet
29. Getting Involved: What, Where, When, How, and Why (but not in that order)
30. Clubs and Organizations:
A Smorgasbord of Opportunity
31. Sports and Athletics:
Buckets of College Sweat
32. Academic Organizations:
Where Smart People Gather
33. Religious Activities:
Your Prayers Answered and the Culture Club (no Boy George)
34. The Perks:
Travel and See the World for Free
Greek Life: Behind the Doors, Windows, and Walls of Fraternity and Sorority Life
35. Greek Life: Getting In
36. Greek Life: The Good
37. Greek Life: The Bad
38. Greek Life: The Ugly
Life Inside the Classroom:Assuming You Wake Up and Go to Class
39. To Go or Not to Go
40. Nice Professor, Nice Professor
41. How to Get an A (or almost an A)
42. How to Just Pass
43. How to Fail
44. The Cheat Sheet
45. The Art of Reading (or not reading) the College Textbook
46. Take Notes Here
47. Do It in a Group
48. Old Exams, Sharing Notes, and Mostly Legal Ways to Pass
49. The Major Issue: Picking One
50. Advice on Your Advisor
51. Pick a Number, Any Number
52. Time for Time Management.
53. Wine Tasting, Bowling, and Other Important Electives
Dating and Relationships:Your Higher Education in Lust, Love, and Loss
54. The Rules of College Love (or just lust)
55. The College Hookup
56. Close-Distance Relationships
57. Long-Distance Relationships (LDRs)
58. High School Bitter Sweethearts
59. Imaginary Relationships and Online Dating
60. The Friendly Relationship
61. Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Relationships
62. Cheaters, Users, and Abusers
63. I Have No Life Other Than My Relationship
64. I Got Dumped and No Longer Have a Relationship
Sex:Having It, Not Having It, Hearing Other People Having It.
65. Deciding to Do It
66. Deciding Not to Do It
67. Doing It Way Too Much
68. The One-Night Stand
69. Pimps, Hos, and Reputations
70. Sexual Souvenirs
71. The U of Birth Control
72. Possibly Pregnant
Drinking on Campus: Tapping the Keg of Truth.
73. Drinking on Campus
74. Slow Down, Don't Drink Too Fast.
75. Not Everyone Is Drinking
76. The Social Lubricant
77. Safer Unsafe Sex and Alcohol
78. Sexual Assault and Alcohol
79. Don't Be So Stupid That You Accidentally Kill Yourself.
80. Drinking and Driving
81. Still Hungover
82. You Might Be an Alcoholic If
Drugs on Campus :The Smoking, Snorting, and Pill-Popping Truth
83. About Drugs on Campus
84. How to Avoid Them
85. Why Not to Do Drugs
86. Just Don't Accidentally Die
87. College Smoking Butts
Money, Laundry, and Cheap Eats:Assuming You Have Enough Money to Eat and Do Laundry
88. Loans, Grants, Scholarships, and Loose Change
89. Your Financial Aid Advisor: Money, Money, Money, Monnnnneeey
90. Part-Time Jobs, Big-Time Benefits
91. The Credit Card and the $600 Candy Bar
92. Bad Checks, Bad Credit, and Bad Ideas
93. Checking Out the College Checking Account
94. Sorry, This Book Is Now "Used"
95. Cheap Strategies for Eating (or barely eating)
96. Laundry Tips: This Page Is Not Fabric Softener
Things Not Mentioned in the College Brochure: What They Don't Tell You
97. The Freshman 15 or, Um, 45
98. The Student Body Image
99. Exposing the College Eating Disorder
100. Depression: The "Other" Major
101. Sexual Assault
102. To Transfer or Not to Transfer
103. Safe, Schmafe
104. Commuting? Words to Take with You
105. Diversity: Sexual, Religious, Racial It's All Good
College: A Higher Education: It's Almost Time to Say Good-bye
106. The U of No Regrets
107. Your Tip Goes Here
About the Naked Author