Karen Coburn


Senior Consultant in Residence, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Students

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Coburn is one of the country’s leading experts on the college experience. She is co-author of the acclaimed book, Letting Go: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding the College Years, which, in its fourth printing, has sold more than 330,000 copies. Coburn is often quoted in the national and international media for her tips on helping students and parents make a smooth transition from high school to college- from what to bring, to what to expect, to how to stay in touch. She can also address issues related to students’ physical and mental health and well-being on campus.

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Timeless advice for parents of new college students

Timeless advice for parents of new college students

Now in its sixth edition, Karen Levin Coburn’s “Letting Go: A Parents’ Guide to Understanding the College Years” gives parents an insider’s look at campus life and helps them navigate the complex emotions both they and their child will experience during the transition to college.

Constant contact between college students and parents could hinder development

CoburnWhether your child is going away to college this fall across town or across the country, there are more ways to keep in touch than ever before. With today’s ubiquitous cell phones and access to Twitter, Facebook and texting, it may seem as though your child has never left the house. For students, there is the ever-present possibility of an available parent at the end of a cordless tether, which has the potential to hinder the letting go process, claims an expert on the college transition at Washington University in St. Louis.

Back-to-school

Your kid just got beat up by the fifth-grade bully. Or perhaps you aren’t sure the lunches are healthy enough for your child to be eating. Maybe you’ve even noticed a change in your child’s behavior after returning to school. Washington University has several experts that can comment on any one of these concerns, as well as many others that arise when children are going … back to school, whether it’s kindergarten, high school or college.

Students should use common sense when posting to Facebook.com, says expert

CoburnThink you know your daughter’s potential college roommate for her freshman year? Think again. Not to imply that your daughter will be rooming with an alien being, but as Facebook.com continues to gain popularity, it’s become easier for students to post information that may or may not always be true, which can pose problems for professors, friends and future employers. Students need to remember that a Facebook.com posting becomes public information. And the persona they create online may be hard to maintain once they arrive on campus, says a leading expert on the college experience.

Letting Go: Karen Coburn makes college transition easier for students and parents

Karen Coburn is co-author of the acclaimed book, “Letting Go: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding the College Years,” which, in its fourth printing, has sold nearly 300,000 copies. Coburn is often quoted in the national and international media for her tips on helping students and parents make a smooth transition from high school to college — from what to bring, to what to expect, to how to stay in touch.
When college kids come home for the winter break, stress and tension can mount

When college kids come home for the winter break, stress and tension can mount

Students may come home exhausted from the stress of final exams.When college students return home for their winter break, it can be an adjustment for the entire family. While parents may have preconceived ideas about how the family will spend the holidays, students are anxious to try out their newfound independence. “The winter break is the first extended time at home for most freshmen since they left for college in the summer,” says Karen Levin Coburn, associate vice chancellor for students and dean of the freshman transition at Washington University in St. Louis. “The first semester at college may have been their first glimpse of freedom. They wonder if it is possible to go home and still maintain their newfound independence.” More…

Smooth transition to college should start early in life

David KilperAs fall quickly approaches, so does the time for which many parents and students have long been waiting — some would say, dreading — the first day of college. Your child’s departure for college is a monumental step and one that you can start preparing for when your child is just taking his or her first steps, says a Washington University in St. Louis expert on the college experience.

Letting go as children head off to college for the first time

David Kilper / WUSTL PhotoAdvice for sending your child off to college for the first time.Sending your child off to college for the first time isn’t easy. But it can be especially tough on “helicopter parents,” those who tend to hover over their children and can have a hard time letting go. But not to worry, says an expert on the freshman transition at Washington University in St. Louis and co-author of the acclaimed book “Letting Go: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding the College Years.” Even helicopter parents can make a successful break.

Summer break brings challenges — and rewards — to both college students and their parents

Keeping in touch with college friends.For many college students who have just completed their freshman year, coming home for an entire summer after being on their own can be quite an adjustment. For their parents it can be just as tough. Issues of curfews, privacy, chores and schedules can put a strain on the family dynamics. The solution, says an expert on the freshman transition at Washington University in St. Louis, is open communication and support for a student’s burgeoning independence.

Cell phones on college campuses make ‘letting go’ a challenge

Photo by David Kilper / WUSTL PhotoMore than half of college students now own a cell phone, according to the authors of *Letting Go*.The author of a book offering advice to parents sending a child off to college says that the ubiquitous cell phone makes it easier for parents and students to keep in touch, but it also offers a challenge to the “letting-go” process. Karen Levin Coburn, assistant vice chancellor for students and associate dean for the freshman transition at Washington University in St. Louis, is co-author of Letting Go: A Parents’ Guide to Understanding the College Years, which provides a comprehensive, down-to-earth guide for parents experiencing the varying emotions of parenting a college student. The book, now in its newly released fourth edition, has sold more than 300,000 copies since first being released in 1988. “When we wrote our 1997 edition, very few people used cell phones. They just weren’t an issue,” Coburn says. “Now the majority of students have a cell phone and they’ve made a huge difference, pro and con, in the communication patterns between parents and students.”