Real College: The Essential Guide to Student Life

A book of communication, difficult conversations, negotiation and life advice for college students

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Written by Difficult Conversations co-author Douglas Stone and Harvard Law School student Elizabeth Tippett, Real College is a book of communication, difficult conversations, negotiation and life advice for college students. The wide-ranging advice in Real College will help students to:

  • Identify common assumptions that can lead to conflicts with roommates
  • Engage with professors inside and outside the classroom
  • Manage procrastination and perfectionism
  • Have productive conversations about issues like race, gender, and sexual orientation
  • Talk with parents about expectations and majors
  • Encourage a friend struggling with mental health issues to seek help


The book follows four fictional students via their e-mail correspondence. Through this device, Stone and Tippett analyze common mistakes that students make and offer guidance on how best to manage the challenging transition to college life.


“Remarkably well written, truly reader friendly, and full of good ideas. As both a parent and a professor, I highly recommend this book.”Richard Light, author of Making the Most of College, Walter H. Gale Professor of Education, Harvard University

“Masterfully presents critical information on key topics in a format that is engaging and entertaining. It should be on the bookself of every incoming college freshman – and their parents. ” – Julie C. Lythcott-Haims, Dean of Freshmen, Stanford University

“Extremely funny, astonishingly helpful. Every college student and college-bound high school senior should read it.” – Henry C. Moses, Headmaster, Trinity School and former Dean of Freshman, Harvard College

“Stone and Tippett address serious, substantive, and challenging issues with deep psychological wisdom. This book is superb “must” reading for any student on the brink of college life and any parent seeking an understanding of what college holds in store for their maturing daughters and sons.” – Charles Ducey, Ph.D., Director, Bureau of Study Counsel, Harvard University

“If you read and use this book, your college journey will be much happier and more productive. Every student affairs office should recommend it.”Loren Pope, author of Colleges that Change Lives and Looking Beyond the Ivy League

See also Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most (New York: Viking/Penguin, 1999).

Real College: The Essential Guide to Student Life Attributes

Author: Douglas Stone & Elizabeth Tippett
Publisher: New York: Penguin, 2004