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Praise for the Talking College™ Card Deck

Reviews from Parents

"I really wanted my kids to think about some issues that they might face when they go to college. I had given them a couple of scenarios to see what they might do and help them think about things. But now I have these amazing conversation cards. This is truly the best way to prepare your kid for dealing with issues when they go off to college. This deck includes so many great life skills that are not taught in school and often not taught at home."


"Check out this wonderful idea and product… you don't yet realize how much you need these for your college-bound high schooler, your class, your school, but you will! Especially after you get them!"

"[My daughter] is not a big reader, but she is open to reading your book, and if she doesn't, that's where the cards will come in. This event was well timed because we still have plenty of time to instill some of the key skills she needs and have the "what would you do if ..." conversations I wouldn't have thought of."


"I have to say it was a really fun and painless way to start a conversation with our child - one that has continued (at the request of said teenager!!).  I let them pick a random card out of the deck so we started with binge drinking. That isn't something I would have thought to talk with my child about before college because they would not want to be 'altered.' But that kid definitely will wind up having to babysit a lot of friends who do. So, we had a great talk about what the difference between drunk and dangerous looks like and created an amnesty policy for our child to call us to ask for help taking care of friends. It was pretty awesome, so thank you for helping make that happen!"


"It's never too soon to start encouraging independence, practicing life skills and learning how to ‘adult,’ and these cards highlight those important topics and many I would have never thought about on my own."


"Talking College cards break down these important topics into organized and easy to follow talking prompts for both the child and parent and encourages thoughtful collaboration in families."


"It's never too soon to start preparing our children for going off into the world on their own, and these cards will give me a sense of comfort, knowing my son is as prepared as possible to embark on this exciting new chapter in his life!"


"Amazing addition to the book, How to College! These cards help provoke the questions our students have before they go to college and issues we need to discuss with our students as responsible parents!"

"One of the great things about being a "grandpa" is that grandkids come to me for talks (and hopefully wisdom) that are sometimes awkward to discuss with their parents and I am happy to oblige. HOWEVER, I graduated from college 50 years ago! College and kids' lives have changed "a little" since then. Dr. Brenner's cards (and book) offer a great bridge between timeless life lessons and current day challenges for college-aged kids. In addition, they often open doors to other topics that need to be discussed. Well thought out and not intimidating, these cards have been a bonus for my credibility and an investment in future relationships with grand kids."

"I truly wish these cards had been around when my kids were getting ready to head off to college a few years ago. These cards really ask the important questions about what your kids haven't given any thought to yet. Especially if your student is the oldest child/first born to be leaving the nest - it's maybe more helpful for the parents!"


"I've used these cards — and shared the book — with both of my high school seniors and they encouraged my children to think about their soon-to-be college experience. It helped them to ask questions and talk about expectations in a fun, engaging way! My son is off in college well prepared now and my daughter is on her way. These cards are really thoughtful, encouraging and fun to use. And they got me reliving and sharing my university times with them!"

"As the parent of a high school junior, college can seem so far away, yet also overwhelmingly close! The process of making a list of colleges, touring schools, filling out applications, and writing essays can seem daunting, but the Talking College card prompts helped me to break down some of the really important topics to broach with my son before he heads off to college in a few short years. It's never too soon to start encouraging independence, practicing life skills and learning how to "adult", and these cards highlight those important topics and many I would have never thought about on my own. Talking College breaks down these important topics into organized and easy to follow talking prompts for both the child and parent and encourages thoughtful collaboration in families. It's never too soon to start preparing our children for going off into the world on their own, and these cards will give me a sense of comfort , knowing my son is as prepared as possible to embark on this exciting new chapter in his life!"


"As many who have a teenage boy can relate to, having open communications about personal topics with a high school senior applying to college can be a challenge. The Talking College cards presented us with simple, non-threatening, non-confrontational questions to ask him about the many aspects of the college life he will be experiencing in less than a year. What is great about these questions is that they are simple, direct, and relevant. Furthermore, they cover a lot of ground, running the gamut of topics (e.g. social life, academics, health, spirituality) and substance (i.e. from mundane to intense) encouraging him to really think about what it will be like to transition to college and the independence that goes with it. We were pleasantly surprised at how open and honest our son was in his answers; he willingly shared his thoughts and was not just giving answers that he wanted us to hear."

"Great "no screen time" way to talk with kids about issues they will face in college. Real world topics for all types of kids. Game-like format makes it a non-threatening way to help families start the dialogue..."


"What an amazing parent/teen resource as your kid prepares to head to college!! It’s so hard to get high schoolers to talk to their parents about anything and particularly when they envision their college years…finally away from home! Though this deck of cards came out after my daughter left for college, I will most definitely pull these out at her Thanksgiving break to start a discussion. I will also be buying them for high school juniors and seniors as they start on this journey!"


"What a terrific resource for parents! If you (like me) get blank looks when you ask, "how's that college work going?" this card deck will help you start the conversation. Brilliant idea for making it easier for both parents and high schoolers to focus on college in a thoughtful way without too much stress. We all need a third party to get things rolling. (And this deck is a lot cheaper than hiring a college counselor!)"


"With two kids already in college and two heading in that direction, there is much I’d like them to know. But my kids don’t want to be lectured. The Talking college cards facilitate conversation between parents and children. I expect to use them over the next several years and just wish I had them before my older two left for school."


"Amazing addition to the book “How to College”! These cards help provoke the questions our students have before they go to college and issues we need to discuss with our students as responsible parents!"

"The card deck is a must have for any student going off to college. The cards in the deck are well organized and cover everything from relationships to academics. It will help prompt parents and students to discuss important issues. My daughter thought the “Getting Involved” and “Safety” cards were very helpful discussion topics. I really appreciated the “Money” cards. I will be purchasing more card decks to give as graduation gifts."


"These cards encouraged my son to talk! Usually he responds with one word answers to every question, no matter what is asked. However, the prompts encouraged conversation and everyone learned from his answers. Also, my husband and I got to reminisce about our college days!"

Reviews from College Coaches, Consultants, and Companies

"I send all the families I work with Dr. Brenner's Talking College cards to help them have productive conversations about everyone's priorities and expectations for college. The prompts are amazing conversation starters for families, moving them away from focusing on rankings to thinking about what really matters: what do students want in their college experience and where they will thrive. I am so excited to add the Talking College: Campus Visits to my resources so that families can make the most out of their visits and go beyond the admission office information session and scripted student-led tour."

-Kate Sonnenberg, Founder and College Consultant, KS College Success

Executive Director, EdMom Scholars

"I wish the Talking College Cards and How to College: What to Know Before You Go (and When You're There) were around when my kids were applying and transitioning to college. What a great way for families to prompt and encourage conversations on the expectations and challenges faced by both parents and students as they prepare for college life. Knowing what to expect and what is expected of you as a college student will help students transition to college with the confidence they need to excel not only in the classroom but outside of the classroom as well."

-Moira McCullough, Founder, College Scoops

"I am a Certified Life & Executive Function Coach and purchased Dr. Brenner's Talking College™ card deck for use with the high school students and college students I work with during their transition to college. I am really impressed at how the cards offer conversation starter questions on so many topics associate with college including budgeting and spending, roommates and friendships, mental health, and much else. I have enjoyed the conversations these cards have helped start with the students I work with and highly recommend this card deck to practitioners and clinicians who support soon-to-be or current college students."

-Anne Sabagh, Certified Life Coach, Neurodiverse Universe Life & Executive Function Coaching


"Offering parents information about their child’s approaching college transition, is something I have been doing for years. But equipping parents with resources for applying that information was missing until I met Dr. Andrea Brenner. Several months ago, I was fortunate enough to hear Dr. Brenner speak to a group of colleagues. Immediately, I saw in Dr. Brenner the often overlooked, but most important piece—the ‘transitioning to college’ preparation. I quickly realized what an asset Dr. Brenner brings to college professionals, high school counselors and especially parents in helping students successfully launch to college. I also perceived that this preparation should begin sooner rather than the summer before college. My ‘aha’ moment led me to purchase Dr. Brenner’s Talking College Card Deck for my rising seniors (next year, I plan to encourage this activity even earlier with rising juniors). The card deck provides a disarming approach in promoting healthy discussions between parents and their child on universal topics every student will face at college."

-Patricia A. Nehme, Certified Educational Planner, MyEduAdvisor

"The Talking College Cards are a MUST for parents who want to ensure that their child will be independent enough to thrive in college and for students who have no idea what they don’t know about the higher education experience. I wish all high schools could distribute these card packs to their senior families, and I certainly would have had a much better undergraduate experience myself if I had these cards when I was a teenager!"

-Dr. Maruta Z. Vitols, Owner, A+ College Consulting LLC, former college professor

"As an Independent Educational Consultant, I love using the Talking College Cards as a way to precipitate much-needed conversations with my students about transitioning to college.  They also make a wonderful gift for families to use since each deck includes hundreds of prompts covering a variety of themes that will help students and parents adjust to college life." 

-Jodi Goldberg Glou, President, Custom College Consulting

"In my work as a coach, I talk to parents & students all the time with vastly different expectations. Talking College cards are an excellent tool for families to discuss real and challenging topics. I recommend them during my College Readiness Packages!"

-Beth Felsen, Autism specialist, coach, & founder of Spectrum Transition Coaching

"The Talking College Card Deck is an essential resource for families of students heading to college. It's a fun and thought-provoking way to inspire college-readiness conversations beyond academics, including executive function and independent living skills that are often better predictors of college success."

-Janet Price, Assistant Vice President of Outreach and Admissions, College Living Experience


"The Talking College cards are a fantastic resource for rising college students, parents, and counselors. As a college counselor for first-generation, low-income students, I work with a team to ensure that our scholars are prepared for the many issues they will face as they enter college. Many of the cards reflect the exact issues we discuss, and others gave me new ideas for conversations to help me prepare my students and their parents for what to expect before their child leaves for school. I will definitely be using the Talking College cards and encouraging others in the field to do the same!"

-Jennifer Schwartz, Counselor, Collegiate Directions, Inc.

Reviews from Higher Education Professionals


"Higher education professionals know that transitioning to college comes with bumps and detours in the road. Part of navigating these challenges effectively is having had the chance to contemplate what you will do BEFORE a challenge arises. The Talking College card deck provides meaningful and practical prompts for considering those important issues that all students -and families- face on the journey we call college. This comprehensive deck is a wonderful tool, hitting on the many critical themes that each student will encounter through their own unique experience. For those students that identify as first-generation college students, the Talking College deck is particularly useful, providing a framework for successful navigation of college life."

-Stephen C. Sutton, EdD, Vice Chancellor, Division of Student Affairs

University of California, Berkeley

“Each family who joins our Parent & Family Association receives a welcome gift. We have previously given out nice bags, water bottles, notepads, license plates, and much more. This summer we introduced the Talking College™ cards as an item for our families who join. So far, families have loved them! We introduce the cards at orientation, so they are familiar with them when it is time to start conversations with their student We wanted to create an opportunity for incoming families at orientation to engage, connect, and network with each other while learning each other’s stories. Often families are not able to participate in small groups (like students), so we wanted to pilot a session this summer to create interactive programming. At orientation, we talk a lot about expectations and wanted to ensure families could continue the conversations relating to the student transition. Therefore, we created a session titled ‘Critical Conversations’ where families are placed in a small group, can connect, and talk through a theme from a Talking College™ card. So far – we have had overwhelming good feedback. Many family members have a light bulb moment where they see that so many other families have similar victories and challenges as it relates to the transition. Families truly enjoy the option to take a break from presentations and connect with each other.”

-Kayla Hubbard , Sr. Coordinator, Parent and Family Services, Student Academic Success

The University of Memphis

“The college transition can be overwhelming for both students and their caregivers. Dr. Brenner has identified the key conversations to have before students leave for college to ensure student success and well-being.” 

-Robert D. Hradsky, EdD, Vice President for the Student Experience and Dean of Students
Syracuse University

"The Talking College card deck is ideal for college-bound students and families as they navigate the terrains of higher education. The cards explore topics related to the collegiate experience such as developing healthy relationships, co-curricular involvement, managing academics, self-care, finances and much more. These cards are ideal for first-generation college students, students of color, and families experiencing the nuances of college for the first time. They are great conversation starters as students and families prepare for the next steps in their education!"
-Jonathan A. McElderry, Ph.D, Assistant Dean of Students,
Wake Forest University


"Andrea Malkin Brenner’s Talking College Card Deck is a tremendous resource for students and parents alike. The transition to college is often a time of unspoken assumptions and expectations, both for the student launching into college, and for their parents and family. This card deck offers a very accessible and creative way to begin the conversations that are needed to bring these issues to the surface. Brenner has captured so many of the critical issues in this transition, and the card deck format makes for easy conversations. Brenner provides questions and topics that are real, relevant, and at times uncomfortable. She addresses complex issues, like greek life and financial obligations, with balance and clarity. This is the best format I can imagine for diving into these vital issues. Picking out one or a few cards for a talk over dinner is much easier than turning to the correct page in a lengthy book. While college transition books certainly have their place, this card deck will make real conversations flow, and both students and parents will be the winners."

-Todd A. Olson, Ph.D.  President

Mount Mercy University

"The Talking College card deck sets students –and families– up for success as they navigate all the transitions, questions, and changes that the college experience brings. The cards outline almost a dozen topics, from getting involved, to expectations, finances, safety and everything in between, that will allow students and families to start communicating before heading to campus in meaningful ways, start re-negotiating their relationship, and know what types of things to ask or investigate about their institution’s offerings.  This is a great way to start getting ready for orientation, the first year, and the entire college experience!"

-Danielle Morgan Acosta, PhD, Associate Dean of Students, Clark University

"What I love the most about The Talking College cards is how they invite the whole family unit into the conversation about college. This is crucial because we often forget that the majority of our college students are still a part of a family system, and when they go to college the whole family often goes with them. This sentiment is amplified for first-generation students who, along with their families, are charting the waters of higher education for the first time and often struggle with the elusive idea of you don't know what you don't know."

-Bennie Gallman, Associate Director, Tiger Alliance, Clemson University

"What an easy and simple way to initiate important conversations with your student prior to heading off to college! If you don’t know where to start…simply pick a card! The topics offer a range of discussion starters and will help you to customize your pre-college conversations with greater depth, intentionality, and thoughtfulness."

–Rachel E. Aho, Director of Housing, University of Utah

"This little deck of Talking College cards can open the door to needed communication between parents and their college-bound students. Andrea Malkin Brenner has drawn on years of higher education experience to develop a clever way to deal with the issues of college life that students and parents sometimes find difficult to discuss.  If you have a soon-to-be first-year college student, you will enjoy these prompts and find them valuable in helping your student break away while still maintaining important family connections."

-Betsy Barefoot & John Gardner, Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education

"In my work, most of the issues that end up in my office are avoidable mistakes that could have been prevented by parents and students talking through all aspects of the college experience in advance of enrollment. The Talking College cards are a great tool for parents and students to use in the year before a student goes to college so that frank, open communication can be stimulated."

-Keith B. Humphrey, PhD, Vice President for Student Affairs, California Poly State University

"This card deck clearly reflects Dr. Andrea Brenner’s comprehensive, firsthand knowledge of the college transition today—as a college transition educator, an author, a professor, a sociologist, and a parent. Each card provides a light-bulb moment that anticipates the wide array of decisions and new experiences a first-year college student must navigate, and offers an accessible, interactive way for families to have important conversations. I’m struck by how the cards address potentially difficult topics in ways that are non-judgmental, non-alarmist, and do not presume a default family culture, structure, or socioeconomic status. Furthermore, while thoughtfully designed for parent-student interaction, the card deck could also be immensely helpful for students, parents, or even college staff and faculty, to use on their own to better understand the crucibles of college transition today. As a university professor, I believe the Talking College card deck would greatly increase an incoming first-year student’s chances of success and well-being, both in and out of the classroom."

-Angie Chuang, Associate Professor of Journalism & Associate Chair, Undergraduate Studies, University of Colorado Boulder


"Talking College cards are a great new addition to the toolbox available to college-bound students and their parents to prepare for the transition to college. I especially appreciate the element of fun in choosing randomly from the deck and then using the prompt to guide the conversation. It’s a casual, pressure-free way to talk about both the practical aspects of leaving home such as what you should be packing, to some of the more emotional topics such as homesickness and making new friends and everything in between. You can toss them into your bag and pull them out when you have a few minutes in the car, or on vacation, or at the dinner table. Students can use them with their friends and parents can contemplate the questions on their own to give them a sense of what their student should be thinking about and preparing for as they begin this momentous journey. As a higher ed. professional, I know from experience that students who are well-prepared have the smoothest transition and are better able to navigate their college experience in a way that allows them to truly thrive. Talking College cards are an excellent way to ensure that."

-Jamie Wyatt, Director of Honors and Scholars Programs, American University

"Proactive discussions and expectation setting is a critical component of the college transition, but families don’t often know where to start, or what questions to ask. The Talking College Card Deck provides students and their families with the scripting they need to discuss the myriad of issues that a student will face throughout their college experience. I can see this resource being a casual “grab a card and let’s chat” option over family dinner or a longer discussion where families explore a specific topic together. The prompts are the cards are not intimidating and get at the heart of the most pressing issues for the transition to college for the student and their family members. This should be the hottest graduation gift for high school seniors!"

-Jennifer Latino, EdD, Senior Director, Research Advisory Services Educational Advisory Board

Former Associative Vice President for Student Success, Campbell University

"As a professor and an adviser to new college students, I am certain that Dr. Brenner’s Talking College Cards will help families start important conversations before their student leaves home. Every first-year college student brings their own unique, individual background and experiences to college, but these discussion prompts are for every first year college student." 

-Jennifer Rothchild, PhD, Professor of sociology, University of Minnesota, Morris 

"As a professor, I know that the transition to college is a significant one. Students work hard to be qualified for admission to college, but that work does not always translate to success as a college student. Students can prepare for college-level academics and the other aspects of college life that are conditions precedent to a successful academic life from mental health to financial planning. It starts with meaningful, productive conversations.  These conversation prompts offer families a road map for the college transition. Importantly, they help families establish and practice the communication habits that they will need in this next exciting phase of a student's life."

-Lara Schwartz, JD, Professorial Lecturer, Department of Government, American University

Co-Author, "How to College: What to Know Before You Go (and When You’re There)"

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