The College Girl's Survival Guide

52 Honest, Faith-Filled Answers to Your Biggest Concerns


By Hanna Seymour

Formats and Prices




$22.99 CAD


  1. Trade Paperback $16.99 $22.99 CAD
  2. ebook $9.99 $11.99 CAD
  3. Audiobook Download (Unabridged)

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around April 3, 2018. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Hanna Seymour, a mentor to thousands of young college women, provides a plan for success in college based on experience, illustrations, and biblical principles.

Each year millions of young women enter the college scene and are surprised to find their glittering preconceptions shattered. College isn’t exactly what they had imagined — it’s a lot tougher. Social challenges, a demanding schedule, pressure to succeed, shifting family dynamics: how do girls tackle these issues, learn to thrive, and really enjoy this new phase of life?

The Girl’s Survival Guide is packed with experienced-based advice that can help. Written by a mentor with ten years of experience helping college girls succeed, it’s like having a big sister along for the journey. With proven tips, scripture, and inspiring illustrations, this book will coach, comfort, and inspire young women so that they can make the most of the college experience.

Thousands of young women have asked Hanna Seymour what to do about roommate drama, boyfriend trouble, choosing a major, balancing family and school life, and so much more. She’s poured her best insights into this book — answering the top 52 questions she has received — so that readers everywhere will be armed with the knowledge and inspiration to make college the most epic, enriching time it can be.



Start Here

Hello, new friend! We don’t know each other yet, but that’s what I’m going to call you—my new friend. Because if you read any portion of this book, my hope is that you’ll feel like we’d be the best of friends. I’ve worked with college girls for more than a decade, and one of my absolute favorite things is to settle down with a cup of coffee and talk through the highs and lows of college life—and there are certainly both extremes. While you and I may never meet face-to-face, I hope that you do grab a cup of coffee and that as you flip through this book it feels like we’re sitting together having a good heart-to-heart.

Speaking of flipping through, feel free to skip around in this book. Begin by reading the first three chapters. Then the rest is sort of like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, or more like a Flip to Your Actual Problems book. The chapters are laid out by topic, and within each chapter you’ll find a handful of the fifty-two most common college girl concerns. You can read what is currently relevant and skip over the rest. Or read the whole thing cover to cover to get familiar with the range of issues that can come up in college. Either way, keep this book handy for the next time you hit a rough patch. Think of it as your trusty pal, always there when you need quick advice from a friend who’s been through it all before and who has counseled hundreds of others who’ve experienced the very same things you are going through!


One of my greatest joys in life is getting to know high school and college girls, and walking alongside them as they investigate and discover who they are, what they believe, and what God’s plan is for their lives. I had some incredible older friends and mentors during those years of my life and know what an amazing experience it is to have so many loving, fun, older-and-wiser “big sisters.” Ultimately, that joy is what led me to a career working with college students and also volunteering as a high school small-group leader at church. Whether you call it being a big sister, friend, or mentor, my ultimate goal was to help every girl I knew discover who she was, why she believed what she believed, who God is, and who God created her to be.

Now, before you slam this book shut if you’re not a Christian—I’m very certain you can still read this book, and we can still be the best of friends. While I’ve definitely written this from a Christian perspective, I think you’ll find the advice on these pages is still applicable and relevant to you. In fact, I hope to show you that when you look at the world through a biblical lens—or the way Jesus would want us to—life actually seems more manageable and makes more sense. So all are welcome here! I’m pretty sure that’s the way Jesus would want it.

But back to my girls. As each crop of my girls graduated from high school, I longed to give them something that would truly help prepare them for the next four wonderful and wild years ahead. The more I searched for a great how-to-do-college book, the more I realized how hard it was to find. Many of the books that were written from a Christian perspective seemed a little out of touch or just too old-school. I really wanted to give my girls something personal that digs into the issues I know young women are currently facing while still being written by a believer for believers. But I never found just the right thing.

Still, my girls and I stayed in touch, and I’d often receive emails from them with questions about situations they were facing or things they were worrying about. I knew they would benefit from reading one another’s questions, so with their permission, I turned our Q&A into a public blog. Whenever one wrote me an email, I would distill her question into something more widely applicable, then write a blog post that the whole group could read.

Fairly quickly, the girls started sharing my blog with their new college friends, and those girls started sharing my blog with their old high school friends who were at other colleges. Pretty soon, I started getting email questions from girls all over the country (even a few from Europe!) who were all asking very similar things.

The blog was a wonderful device. It united the ladies who read it and normalized the issues they encountered in their college experience. A lot of times we believe the lie that we tell ourselves: It’s just me—I’m the only one who could possibly be feeling this way or struggling with this thing. But when I posted the girls’ questions, almost all of my readers reacted with a “You too?!” They felt encouraged and connected, knowing they weren’t alone.

After years of receiving emails and answering questions, I found that all of the college girl issues could be divided into six categories and, even with all their nuances, distilled into fifty-two questions. And that’s what you hold in your hand—the book I always wanted to give the college-bound women I knew. More than a decade’s worth of college girl experiences, wrapped into one little survival guide.

All that to say, I’m glad you’re here, and I hope this helps you transition into and through college. And if you flip through this book and don’t see an answer to your burning question, email me. You can always contact me through my website at


Part One

The Bigger Picture

Chapter One

Change Always Brings Challenges

It’s one of the most dangerous statements spoken by well-meaning adults, and you’ve probably heard it a dozen times: “College is the best four years of your life.”

Well, it’s only Chapter One, and we’re just getting to know each other, but I’m going to tell you like it is. No sugarcoating. College should not be the best four years of your life. If college is the best four years this life has to offer, that means that by age twenty-two you’ve already lived the best season you’ll ever live. To be frank, that is just plain depressing. You graduate from college and it’s all downhill from there? Let’s hope for all of our sakes that college isn’t the best four years of life!

Even more importantly, the idea that the best four years of your life are in college sets us up with extremely unrealistic expectations. It creates the illusion that college is all good times and great vibes. It sets us up to be shocked when we hit bumpy parts of the road. Instead of anticipating that college will be full of challenges, we are surprised and usually horrified when those challenges come our way. While college is an incredible four-year ride (or maybe five if you enjoy a good victory lap) that grows us in many positive ways—new experiences, relationships, knowledge, and more—a lot of the growth God has in store will come about through really challenging and difficult situations.

There are two elements to understanding and overcoming challenges that I want to make sure you grasp. First, I want to explain the deeper reason why we are so shocked when we experience challenges throughout the college journey. When I came to understand why this is, it changed my perspective and expectations for the rest of my life. Not exaggerating.

I’m sure you’ve experienced times of transition before. Maybe you and your family moved once or several times while you were growing up. Maybe you’ve experienced a change in your family situation—a divorce, a grandparent moving in, siblings moving out, or the death of a loved one. All kinds of change happen prior to college that we deal with and grow accustomed to. It’s not like you’ve never experienced change that brings challenges before.

However, the key is that those changes happened to you. You didn’t choose those changes. They happened to you, and then you were forced to adapt. Then there’s college. Going to college is a choice you make that brings about huge change in your life, and because you make an intentional choice to bring on that change, you have very different expectations of how that change will look. When we choose change, we falsely expect that it will be all puppies, butterflies, and rainbows. Because we feel a false sense of control, we expect the change we’ve chosen to be glamorous, exciting, wonderful, and lovely. You had the amazing privilege of choosing to go to college. That choice has led you to expect that your life will look a certain way, probably like “the best four years of your life”!

Yet the dirty truth is that new experiences—whether you’re thrown into them by choice or not—bring about a number of challenges. This is why, though you’ve chosen your dream school, you start getting that knot in your stomach as move-in day approaches. You are suddenly anxious, stressed, or even fearful of leaving your high school friends. Maybe you are fighting with your parents so often you forget what it was like to get along. Or you may rush off to college without a worry in the world, but then two weeks into the first semester, you’re so homesick that you’re already thinking about transferring to the school in your hometown. Or maybe you immediately hate your roommate. Or—worse—you chose to live with your best friend from high school, and now you can’t stand the sight of each other. The list of unexpected challenges goes on and on.

Before you start calling me Negative Nancy, hear me out. College is an amazing time! It will most likely be some of the most formative years of your adult life. You will decide who you are, what you believe in, and what you want to do with it all. Yet each semester, from the end of high school to your first year out of college, will be marked with challenges and situations that you’ll have to decide how to respond to and transition through.

So don’t be surprised by the challenges or the hard seasons of college life. If you don’t expect challenges in this life, you will be knocked to the ground over and over—beaten up and bruised by all of life’s unexpected hurdles. Instead, if you anticipate challenges, you’ll be standing firm, ready to tackle them head-on with good sense, grace, and faith when they come (and they will come).

Think of it this way: You and I are on a beach vacation. We swim out just a little way from the shore, just enough so that we can no longer touch the bottom of the ocean. We are floating along, soaking up the sun without a care in the world, when suddenly a giant wave crashes down on us and we fight for our lives to get back up to the surface to take a breath. But after what seems like much longer than a few seconds, we find ourselves bobbing above the ocean water. We cough, catch our breath, and settle back into our floats. We’re relaxing, sunning, laughing—but it happens again! Another wave knocks us down. Over and over, we struggle to survive from wave after wave, never learning to anticipate the next one. That’s what life is like when we never expect hardship to come our way.

But maybe it’s better if you and I swim out from the shore, relax, and soak up the sun, while still knowing that waves are going to hit us from time to time. We don’t fret about the waves. We don’t focus on when the next wave is going to come. We float along and enjoy ourselves, but when the wave comes we’re not caught off guard. We choose to duck down under the water and wait for the wave to pass, or we gear up for the wave and use it as an adventurous ride back to the shoreline.

Just like we don’t need to fret about and focus on the next wave when we’re at the beach, we shouldn’t spend our lives worried about which hardship might come next. However, as long as we keep in mind that challenges are going to come our way, we won’t have to drown in hardship and we will be able to recover much faster!

The second element to understanding and overcoming challenges is this: You must learn to embrace the enhanced personal and spiritual growth you’ll gain during seasons of hardship versus seasons of contentment. I believe God uses life’s challenges and difficulties to grow us immeasurably more than He uses life’s successes and easy times.

When we look in the Bible, over and over again we find stories of men and women whom God uses in extraordinary ways, and all of them go through terribly difficult seasons and challenges in life.

In Genesis, we read an incredibly complex story about a man named Abram, whom God later renames Abraham. God spoke to Abram, telling him to leave his country, his family, and all that he knew, but God also promised to bless Abram, make his name famous, and make a great nation from his line, and ultimately, God promised that every family on the earth (even yours and mine) would be blessed because of Abraham. While that seems like a pretty incredible reward, Abraham had to endure many hardships beyond the first call to leave behind all that he knew. As if leaving home and traveling to a foreign country, without any other details of the plan, besides God’s ultimate promise, wasn’t difficult enough! Abraham suffered through a famine, having his wife (temporarily) taken by Pharaoh, and decades of infertility (you know he was thinking, So where is this great nation coming from again?). And then once God finally blessed him with a child, God told Abraham he had to sacrifice him—literally kill him—which, of course, was a trial of faith. God was never going to have Abraham kill his only son, but can you imagine the agony Abraham faced while he prepared to do what he thought God was asking him to do? Abraham’s hardships didn’t stop there. Yet God used every single one of those difficult situations—sometimes brought on by God, other times brought on by Abraham’s bad decisions—to grow Abraham into a more godly and righteous man. Today, you and I are blessed because of Abraham, because from his son, Isaac, God grew His chosen nation, Israel, which birthed our Savior, Jesus. (See Genesis 12–25.) In the same way, you and I can be assured that God will use all of the hardships in our lives for our good. He uses them to teach us, correct us, shape us, and strengthen us, ultimately molding us into the women He designed us to be.

There’s another guy in Genesis, who happens to be Abraham’s great-grandson, who also experienced immense hardship over and over and over, even though God promised to use him in a mighty way. Joseph knew from an early age that he would someday be a leader of God’s people; in fact, God told him that through two specific dreams. But before Joseph could become that leader, his brothers betrayed him and sold him into slavery. This was after his oldest brother convinced his other brothers not to murder him! Talk about a rough day with the siblings. So instead of dealing with the mess of killing, Joseph’s brothers decided they would make some money off of him by selling him into slavery. Over the years as a slave in Egypt, Joseph found favor in the sight of his master and worked his way up to the top of the household hierarchy. But then his master’s wife attempted to seduce him, and when Joseph refused out of respect for God and his master, she cried, “Sexual assault!” which had Joseph thrown into prison. Can you imagine? Do you wonder if Joseph doubted the dreams God had given him? Why on earth would God allow his family to betray him, or allow him to be thrown into slavery and then prison, if He was planning on elevating Joseph to a high-level leadership position? And yet God used all of those hardships to grow Joseph’s faithfulness to the Lord. He taught Joseph things along the way, through the challenges, so that when he was eventually appointed as the right hand to Pharaoh and given the authority to rule over Egypt, he would be the man God designed him to be—one who would bring salvation to his entire family! (See Genesis 37–47.)

Maybe you already have a sense of God’s greater plan for your life. You are passionate about medicine, teaching, or business and have a vision for how God might use you and the talents He’s given you. Yet, like our friend Joseph found out, you can be assured that as you travel along the road God has designed for you, there will be major bumps and even detours. However, none of that means God isn’t in control or doesn’t have a great plan for your life. It means He wants to grow you and give you experiences that will better prepare you for the days ahead.

Let me give you one more example, and this time we’ll look at a female friend. In the book of Ruth, the story begins with immense heartbreak and hardship but ends in beautiful redemption. Ruth’s family lives in a land where famine strikes, ending in the death of her husband, her brother-in-law, and her father-in-law. The story opens with three grieving women, who are likely starving as well. Ruth chooses to follow her mother-in-law to a country she has never been to before, leaving behind the home and family she’s known her whole life. (Sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it?) Widowed women were about the lowest you could get on the societal pole. They were poor and starving and had no real way of making money or providing for themselves. I can’t imagine the weight, grief, and depression Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, must have felt. And yet God had a plan. Not only did God provide a new husband for Ruth—one who would be able to take care of her and Naomi—but He united Ruth and Boaz so that Ruth would become part of Jesus’ lineage. Ruth and Boaz had a baby boy named Obed. (Oh—I forgot to mention that Ruth was infertile for the ten years during her first marriage!) Obed was the grandfather of David, which is the lineage that God promised the Messiah would come from. There were immense hardships and inexplicable challenges, and yet God had a purpose and plan for Ruth’s life that took those hardships and turned them into eternal blessings.

And those are just three examples. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a person in the Bible who doesn’t experience some kind of challenge or difficulty, but in each of their lives God used seasons of hardship to prepare them for the plan He had in store for them. Why would you and I be any different?

So, when challenges come our way, instead of responding with panic or angst, we can respond with a steady hand, confident that God is going to grow us through the difficult situation. Instead of praying, “Why, God?” or “Please change this circumstance, God!” we can pray, “Please change my heart, God! Grow me and equip me through this challenge. Help me to become the woman you created me to be.”

College life (and the rest of your life) will be full of challenges, conflict, hardship, and difficulties. But if you can expect them, instead of being sideswiped by them, and remember that God is using them for your good—to grow you into the woman He designed you to be—you can live a life filled with so much more joy, freedom, and hope than you ever could otherwise.

Chapter Two

Everything Is Normal

I thought it was just me. One of the biggest lies that a college girl believes is that her personal feelings or experiences are rare. You may be tempted to believe this. You may feel alone and isolated. Yet the truth is you are not alone and there is nothing you will experience or feel in college that isn’t shared by lots of other college girls.

No matter what you’re feeling right now in this very moment, I want you to tell yourself, out loud, “This is normal!” Do it. Say it out loud. I don’t care if your roommate is in your room. Say it: “This is normal!”

No matter what you’re going through, it’s normal. You can’t stand your roommate? Normal. You love your roomie and you’re attached at the hip? Normal. You just realized you hate your major? Normal. You are desperately homesick? Normal. You never want to go back home, because you love college life so much? Normal.

You get the idea.

C. S. Lewis penned this incredible quote in The Four Loves: “Friendship…is born at the moment when one man says to another ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…’” Friendship, connection, encouragement, relief—a lot of wonderful things become possible the moment you realize your experience is not isolated. As you flip through the pages of this book, be encouraged. You’re going to find dozens of things you’ve wondered about, and I hope in your mind you hear me saying to you over and over, You are not alone! Everything you’re thinking, feeling, and experiencing is totally normal!

But even more powerful than finding yourself in this book is sharing your thoughts and experiences with your new college friends. You have the ability to help other girls around you realize they aren’t alone. Not everyone will share the same experiences as you, but there is so much power in open and vulnerable dialogue with others. It’s amazing the community and camaraderie that grow among women when they dare to be honest about their struggles and hopes.

There isn’t a story of anyone going to college in the Bible, but there are several stories of people who found themselves in a foreign land, surrounded by strangers, with only a promise that God was in control. Consider Daniel, one of my favorite biblical characters, who had such a story. I’m sure you know a few stories about Daniel—his most famous one, of course, being when he was thrown into a den of lions and miraculously survived to tell the tale! You may not be as familiar with the beginning of Daniel’s life story, but maybe you can relate.

Daniel was a young Jew, probably an aristocrat, possibly even part of the royal family of Judah. During the time he was growing up, an enemy king—King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon—conquered Jerusalem and took control of the land of Judah, the home of Daniel and his family.

Part of King Nebuchadnezzar’s strategy when conquering a new nation was to collect the most talented leaders (intellectual, political, religious, and so on). He’d bring them to Babylon and assimilate them into Babylonian culture—teaching them the language, customs, and history, and even going so far as to give them all new Babylonian names—so that he could utilize those talented folks to further improve his nation (to be the best in the world) while simultaneously leaving the rest of the conquered people behind without any leadership, making them easy to govern and exploit.

Daniel was part of the talented group of leaders King Nebuchadnezzar snatched up for his own benefit. When he was brought to Babylon, Daniel was placed in an intense three-year program where he was trained in all things Babylonian, including language, culture, and science. He was housed at the king’s palace and even had a meal plan! The men in training were all fed the food of the king. Sounds a little bit like college, right?

Here’s where things start to really get applicable when discussing the importance of sharing your experience with others in order to find strength and community. When Daniel was carted off to Babylon against his will, he was accompanied by three of his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The Bible doesn’t tell us much about how these boys knew one another, but it’s probably a fair assumption that they had known one another their whole lives. It’d be like if you grew up your whole life in the same house, and in your neighborhood were three other girls you spent every day with: You rode the bus to and from school together, after school you did your homework together, and you certainly played when you were finished. You spent every summer day together at the pool, played flashlight tag at night, and had BBQs with your families. Even your parents were friends, because you’d all lived on the same street for years and years. That’s probably a reasonable modern-day picture of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

So Dan, Han, Mish, and Az were dragged off together—along with many other young men they had known and grown up with—and when they arrived at the king’s palace, they were faced with an unusual predicament. The king’s food, their meal plan, as it were, included food and wine that had been sacrificed to idols and hadn’t been prepared as sanctioned by Jewish law. At that time, God had very strict laws for His people regarding what they could and could not eat, how it must be prepared, and so on. Daniel 1:8 says, “But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself” (NASB).

It’s interesting that the Bible mentions only that Daniel had this conviction. Every Jewish man taken captive with him should have had the same issues—to be a good Jew, to please God, they could not eat the king’s food, but only Daniel seemed to be concerned.

Can you imagine the fear, grief, anxiety, and possibly even anger Daniel must have felt being torn away from his home and family and forced to enter the Babylonian training program? Then to add insult to injury, how isolated and alone must he have felt when he realized his fellow Jews didn’t share the same convictions he had? Were they not concerned about obeying God? How was Daniel going to survive the next three years if he was already so alone in his obedience to the Lord just upon arrival?

The Bible doesn’t say it explicitly, but if we read between the lines, we know with certainty that Daniel didn’t keep this concern to himself. He went and talked to his best pals, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The four of them proverbially linked arms together and asked to be fed a strict vegetarian-and-water diet. I don’t know if Han, Mish, and Az were struggling with the same inner turmoil. I don’t know what they would have done if Daniel hadn’t approached them with his concern, but it seems to me that sharing their convictions with one another created strength and community, which enabled them to come up with a plan and make a bold request.


  • I've got two daughters, and I've been blessed that both of them came through college life with a stronger faith than when they started. Hanna Seymour's goal is to make that story the rule rather than the exception for every college girl. Her passion and experience make The College Girl's Survival Guide a must-read for the young lady in your life.—Dave Ramsey, bestselling author and nationally syndicated radio show host
  • The College Girl's Survival Guide contains anything and everything a girl needs to know before she starts college. Hanna has the authority to teach this extremely important information to the next generation, and does it in an incredibly relatable way!—Rachel Cruze, New York Times bestselling author
  • If I had had The College Girl's Survival Guide while I was in college, it would have had a permanent place on my nightstand. I've been reading Hanna's writing for a while now. Every time I read something she's written, I walk away feeling like I just sat down with a friend who sees me and understands me. This book is no exception. There is a friendliness and a wisdom to Hanna's voice that we all, college student or not, can benefit from.—Andrea Lucado, author of English Lessons: The Crooked Path of Growing Toward Faith
  • Hanna's well-grounded faith gives her advice the credibility parents can depend on. This is a book every college-bound girl should have in her backpack! I highly recommend parents buy this book for their daughters, nieces, and other young women about to embark upon university life. It's that valuable. I promise you can trust your daughter to Hanna.—Barbara Rainey, creator of EverThineHome, author of Letters To My Daughters and The Art of Being a Wife
  • Hanna's voice to the college woman is that of a big sister and mentor with great wisdom and guidance. Her confidence and reassurance that you're not crazy, you're not alone, and it will all be okay is just what every woman needs. A must-read for every college-age woman before her first day on campus, and an incredible resource to refer back to.
    Meredith W. Boggs, Nashville-based blogger and writer

On Sale
Apr 3, 2018
Page Count
272 pages

Hanna Seymour

About the Author

For over ten years Hanna Easley Seymour has mentored young women, helping them transition smoothly from high school to college and beyond. She holds a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences from James Madison University and a M.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of South Carolina. Combining faith with a passion for helping others, Hanna explains how to tackle problems with good sense and grace on her website,

Learn more about this author