College prep is a popular book topic, especially since so many people have lived it and can share their experiences. However, with so many so-called “experts” on the topic, how do you know which guides really offer the best advice?
Christie Garton’s “U Chic: College Girls’ Real Advice for Your First Year (and Beyond!)” is one such guide that uses testimony from real, current college girls who experienced every situation imaginable — and made it out alive.
Most college guides talk at you, not with you. The young women featured in the book tell their stories in a way that seems like they’re sharing with you or like they are in conversation with you. They’re not trying to teach you by lecturing, but instead by using their own experiences. Their names and the schools they attend are right by their commentary, so instead of wondering if these girls are made up, you know this is a real girl who is going through a similar situation just like you.
How the guide works
Each chapter is about a different topic ranging from sharing a space to getting involved to finances and more. The chapter is then broken down into sections with more information about specific aspects of the topic. For example, in the sharing spaces chapter, the contributors discuss conflicts like dorm-room chaos, roommate drama, settling into your new life on campus, making friends and moving off-campus. “U Chic” uses a testimony from each of the young women for each section, giving you a look into what you’ll experience and some tips for dealing with those conflicts.
In “U Chic,” Garton also offers pros and cons as a way to help you make some decisions about things like joining Greek life or living off-campus. With the real-life situations the girls lived through, the book gives specific tips for joining clubs, using social media to help you, your love life, being healthy and tips for what to do about that one friend who always seems to be partying.
Why it’s helpful
Although college is mostly a fun time, there are some serious aspects of it that can be difficult to discuss. Garton explains the serious nature of issues like sexual assault, drug and alcohol abuse and suicide. While it may be tough to read about or discuss issues of this sort, they can be a reality of the college experience and “U Chic” provides readers with information and tips to keep them safe.
Additionally, there are a couple of aspects of this guide that really stood out to me. To be honest, I considered transferring my freshman year because I was unhappy at the school I had chosen, which can be the case for a lot of people. Even though I’m still at the same college and I have learned to love it, the list of reasons to transfer that Garton provides really hit home. It’s helpful because if you do want to transfer, it lets you know that you’re not alone and you are not a failure for not getting it right the first time.
Freshman year and beyond
Most college guides just help you through your first year. Garton goes one step further by offering advice that’s helpful for anyone in college — from the newest freshman to a seasoned junior. In case this wasn’t enough, she goes even further in supplying a “what’s next” section at the end of the book. I really liked this because since my time at college is wearing down, I appreciated being able to access this important — and relevant! — information. You can tell that Garton is committed to helping you all the way through college.
There are a lot of questions about college that can go unanswered. You could be looking in the wrong place or not making the effort to look at all. If you pick up Garton’s “U Chic,” I promise you’ll get the answers you’re looking for. And hey, even if you don’t read it all at once, try reading a few chapters to answer a question and then put it away. Next time you have an issue, you’ll know right where to look.