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The Complete Handbook for College Women: Making the Most of Your College Experience

Carol Weinberg
Copyright Date: 1994
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 398
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  • Book Info
    The Complete Handbook for College Women
    Book Description:

    Increasingly, college is portrayed as posing as many perils for young women as it does opportunities and challenges. The cover ofThe New York Times Magazinetells us that "Crime Turns The Campus into an Armed Campr" at the same time that dozens of schools experience painful racial upheavals. Date rape, eating disorders, drugs and alcohol, hate crimes, the recent firestorm over political correctnessall have combined recently to make college seem a daunting, even threatening experience.

    This need not be so, says Carol Weinberg, and inThe Complete Handbook for College Womenshe provides concrete, incisive advice to help young women make the most of their college experience.

    Away from home for the first time, in an unfamiliar environment, paired with a stranger as a roommate, the college student faces a number of imposing academic and social challenges. As an experienced college administrator who has spent over twenty years working with students at a range of colleges, Weinberg is an ideally suited guide to help young women navigate their way through what may well be the most formative experience of their lives. Written in a straight-forward, personable manner,The Complete Handbook for College Womenis must reading for both college- bound women and students already at school, as well as a valuable guide for administrators, parents, and anyone involved with higher education.

    Issues discussed include: first arrival and issues of independence and responsibility; family ties and loneliness; assertiveness and conflict resolution; physical and emotional health; eating disorders; alcohol and drugs; codependency; sexuality; sexual harassment; sexual abuse, rape, and personal safety; and the many components of living in a diverse environment, such as ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, class, disability, age, and appearance.

    Table of Contents

    Introduction1. Arrival: Independence, Freedom, and Responsibility2. Family Ties3. Assertiveness and Conflict Resolution4. Taking Care of Yourself5. Eating Disorders6. Alcohol and Drugs7. Codependency8. Sexuality9. Sexual Harassment10. Sexual Abuse, Rape, and Personal Safety11. Living in a Diverse Environment12. Ethnicity and Culture13. Religion14. Sexual Orientation15. Socioeconomic Class16. Disabilities17. Size and Appearance18. AgeNotesIndex

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-8492-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Some Notes on Terminology
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    I have wanted to write this book for women for a long time—to give you a head start as you enter college and a resource throughout your years there. Parts of what you read here will be helpful to you before you arrive on campus; other ideas will have more meaning as you encounter new people, experiences, and parts of yourself.

    Life is increasingly complicated for students in college today. The media is talking more openly about issues such as sexual harassment, acquaintance rape, incest, eating disorders, and codependency. These behaviors have always existed but have not always been...

  6. ONE Arrival: Independence, Freedom, and Responsibility
    (pp. 5-20)

    I’ve been to more college commencements than I can count. A few were my own, but most were at schools where I worked. It’s usually a hot day in May, and the audience is filled with parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, partners, and children of graduating seniors. They fan themselves with programs and strain their necks trying to see everything. The seniors march in wearing identical caps and gowns, arguing about whether the tassel should start out on the right or the left side of their caps. There’s also always one person who trips on the way up to the stage...

  7. TWO Family Ties
    (pp. 21-34)

    Students come to college from all kinds of different family backgrounds. Some are from two-parent households while others were raised by single parents or two sets of divorced and remarried parents; by grandparents, aunts and uncles, or older brothers or sisters; or by adoptive or foster parents. Some new students have lived on their own before starting school, and others are coming directly from residential boarding schools. For all of you, however, there are changes involved in this important move. Although this chapter is meant for students from all kinds of families, for convenience’ sake, “parents” in the plural will...

  8. THREE Assertiveness and Conflict Resolution
    (pp. 35-53)

    When I did training of student residence staff, I liked to include one session on saying no. We started by sitting in a circle. Each person would then directly ask someone else in the group for something unreasonable.

    “Would you pierce my ears for me?”

    “Could you keep my pet ferret this weekend?”

    “Can my mom stay in your room when she visits me?”

    The person asked would have to say no in the rudest way she could.


    “Yeah, right.”

    “In your dreams.”

    As a second step, requests became more realistic.

    “Could you lend me your psych notes?”


  9. FOUR Taking Care of Yourself
    (pp. 54-72)

    If you really want to see an extreme example of peoplenottaking care of themselves, try a college campus during final exam week. A good night’s sleep is just a fond memory. Sugar and junk food replace three square meals a day. The most exercise some students get is running to the drugstore to buy aspirin or across campus to turn in a take-home exam by the deadline. This sort of stress can turn even the nicest people into sleep-deprived, strung-out strangers.

    “Take care.” We say it to each other all the time. Many women say it more than...

  10. FIVE Eating Disorders
    (pp. 73-89)

    I looked at the seven women at the front of the room and couldn’t help smiling. I recognized some from times when they weren’t doing so well, and the times had certainly changed for them. Students listened closely as these women, also students, told their stories. They described their struggles with food, weight, self-esteem, and eating disorders. They talked openly and honestly about their lives and how they had turned them around. One or two had spent time in the hospital or an in-patient program. Some had taken time away from campus to get treatment; others had remained at school...

  11. SIX Alcohol and Drugs
    (pp. 90-107)

    It's the first week of classes. New student orientation is an exciting and exhausting memory. Two seniors down the hall welcome all the first-years to the floor by sharing a couple of six packs of beer. You have a great time and stay up talking until 2 A.M. The seniors tell you there'll always be a cold six pack available in their refrigerator.

    T.G.I.F.—thank God it's Friday—and everyone seems to be celebrating. You’ve got a lab report due on Monday and three hundred pages to read in a history book as thick as the Manhattan Yellow Pages. You’re...

  12. SEVEN Codependency
    (pp. 108-121)

    Heather is the president of the Debate Society. She has an elected executive board of five other students but still feels more comfortable doing all the work herself rather than trusting others to do any of it. Delayne is writing an honors thesis. She’s also the captain of the swimming team, works ten hours a week in the dining hall, volunteers at a rape crisis hotline, and is determined to do a perfect job at everything. Mei-Lin is an R. A. She’s convinced that she should be able to solve all the problems of all the students on her floor....

  13. EIGHT Sexuality
    (pp. 122-145)

    The year was 1957. Dick Clark looked about the same as he does today. “Wake Up Little Susie,” sung by the Everly Brothers, was a hit. In that song, Susie and her date fall asleep at the movies and wake up at 4 A.M. terrified that their “reputations were shot.” “Wake Up Little Susie” was banned by some radio stations for its “suggestive” lyrics.¹ The changing lyrics of popular songs over the years since then reflect many of the changing attitudes about sexuality—heterosexuality in particular.

    In the early sixties the Beatles asked to hold our hands, and the Doors...

  14. NINE Sexual Harassment
    (pp. 146-164)

    I was in graduate school at the time. I didn’t have the knowledge to label what I was experiencing, but my reaction back then tells me that I knew something wasn’t right. The course was on nontraditional counseling methods, and as a final exam we each had to meet with the professor in his office to demonstrate our ability to use various techniques we had studied.

    I remember going in to take my final. I did what I was supposed to do, and then the professor said he wanted to show me another technique. He had me close my eyes...

  15. TEN Sexual Abuse, Rape, and Personal Safety
    (pp. 165-194)

    Several years ago, the college where I worked offered a panel about personal safety as a regular part of new-student orientation. I was joined on the panel by the director of security, a self-defense instructor, and four students. Several of these students were rape awareness educators who ran workshops during the school year. One student spoke candidly about her own experience as a survivor of an acquaintance rape during her first year at the college.

    After every one of our presentations, new students came up to thank the presenters. There were always several who identified themselves as survivors of rape,...

  16. ELEVEN Living in a Diverse Environment
    (pp. 195-222)

    We’re alike in many basic human ways. We like to hear that we’ve done a good job and that someone appreciates us. We like to be treated with respect. We like to feel unthreatened and safe from danger. Sometimes we focus so much on our differences that we forget the ways we're similar. At other times we want so badly to see ourselves as the same that we overlook the differences—differences that are an important part of who we each are.

    In recent years, the old “melting pot” image of everyone merging into a single group has been challenged...

  17. TWELVE Ethnicity and Culture
    (pp. 223-245)

    College offers you a range of new worlds. You can enjoy meals cooked by international students from India, Japanese tea ceremonies, readings by Latina poets, and dance concerts featuring music and movement from a variety of different cultures.

    The celebration of Kwanzaa is an interesting example. Observed from December 26 to January 1, Kwanzaa is a cultural celebration that reflects on black history and accomplishments; like many holidays, it is a time for joy and sharing. During Kwanzaa, people light candles and describe what the seven principles of Kwanzaa mean to them through songs, poems, dance, and personal statements. Kwanzaa...

  18. THIRTEEN Religion
    (pp. 246-263)

    The variety of religions observed and practiced on college campuses is greater than ever.² This is due in part to the increasing numbers of international students attending college in the United States; in part to the rise in the number of independent religious organizations; and in part to students searching for some focus and meaning in their lives.³ Exposure to other religions, and to other new experiences, challenges, and ways of thinking at college can bring into question some of the religious beliefs with which you grew up. Searching, expanding your ideas, and reevaluating your faith is often a natural...

  19. FOURTEEN Sexual Orientation
    (pp. 264-288)

    A number of years ago, I went to see Harvey Fierstein’s play,Torch Song Trilogy. It’s a bittersweet play about a gay man in search of love and respect. I went by myself, and I recall having some uneasy feelings before I actually bought the ticket and went into the theater. I wondered what the audience would be like, what people might think about my being there, and how comfortable or uncomfortable I would be as I watched the play. Looking back now, I realize how my reactions reflected fears I had about gays, lesbians, and bisexuals—fears that came...

  20. FIFTEEN Socioeconomic Class
    (pp. 289-303)

    It’s your first week on campus. Everywhere you go—in the residence hall or at classes and social events—you’re meeting new people. And you’re probably asking and answering the same kinds of questions over and over as you try to get to know one another.

    So . . . where ya from? “Pittsburgh.” “Virginia Beach.” “About a mile from here.” “Pakistan.” “North of Chicago.” “East L. A.”

    “Idaho.” “90210.”

    What’s your major? “Business.” “Government.” “Art History.” “Women’s Studies.” “Engineering.” “Physical Education.” “Are you kidding, I just got here!”

    What’d you do this summer? “Interned in my mom’s office.” “Got...

  21. SIXTEEN Disabilities
    (pp. 304-320)

    In the last ten years the number of students with disabilities on U.S. college campuses has tripled, and 10.5 percent of all college students have some kind of disability.² Perhaps you'll find yourself living in the same residence hall as Ginny, a woman with congenitally underdeveloped limbs who travels around campus using a motorized cart. You might sing in the college choir with Alicia, who has a visual impairment and lives on campus with her guide dog, or maybe you’ll play on an athletic team with Randy, who takes medication to control chronic depression. Your classmates could include Robert, a...

  22. SEVENTEEN Size and Appearance
    (pp. 321-334)

    I’ll always remember those 2 A.M. surprise fire drills in college. We would stumble out of the building in various degrees of consciousness and dress. The people who had been up late studying or hanging out looked pretty much like they always did. Other women had obviously been awakened out of a sound sleep. Their eyes were still half-closed, they wore sweat pants and t-shirts or flannel nightshirts, and sometimes their shoes didn't match. No makeup or styled hair here. No flattering clothes either. Fire drills were one of the great social equalizers. Many women want to look different in...

  23. EIGHTEEN Age
    (pp. 335-346)

    In August 1986, I was waiting to meet the student head resident staff due to arrive on campus for their training. Late that morning I received a telephone message that one of the head residents Would be delayed a day or two because her daughter was in the hospital . . . giving birth to the head resident's first grandchild!

    The student, now also a proud grandmother, arrived on campus a day later. A woman in her fifties who had raised a family almost singlehandedly, she had returned to college several years earlier and lived on campus in a traditional...

  24. Notes
    (pp. 347-370)
  25. Index
    (pp. 371-384)
  26. Back Matter
    (pp. 385-385)