Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"The Globe" issue 4 (article)

Harlan Cohen shares college advice
'The Naked Roommate' author visits Point Park, enlightens students
by Joel Brewton

Harlan Cohen gave a talk at Point Park on issues that new students
tend to deal with in college such as roommates, relationships and 
taking new risks.
Photo by Joel Brewton
Syndicated columnist Harlan Cohen arrived at Point Park University for the fourth consecutive year on Thursday, Sept. 15 to give an enlightening and entertaining lecture on what to expect in the first year of college. A combination of laughter and guitar music rang throughout the George Rowland White auditorium as he shared stories from his own experiences and also probed the audience for questions.

"I tend to be playful," Cohen explained as the audience was split between surprise and chortles after he uttered an expletive in response to an audience member's question.

Cohen is the writer behind the 17-year-old column "Help Me, Harlan!" which can still be read every Sunday in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, as well as online. The column seeks to give advice to teenagers and young adults as they deal with the issues that affect many people of their age. These include, but are not limited to, college life, relationships and parenting issues. He has also written five books including the best-seller "The Naked Roommate," which lists over 100 issues that are bound to come up when a student begins his or her college life.

Cohen has lectured at more than 400 college campuses around the country and visits approximately 50 schools each year, usually during the fall seasons when the new students arrive.

"A lot of time people read the book and they say, ‘We want to bring you in to speak'... and I have a great reputation with my shows," Cohen said. "Word of mouth. That's the thing, just word of mouth."

Harlan said each school requires a different talk that he has to cater to specifically depending on the kinds of students at the school. On Thursday, most of the audience comprised residential students, so he sought to focus on the issues of roommates and dating.

For the fourth editon of "The Naked Roommate," Cohen said he plans to have commuter additions.

"For commuters, they really need to create a world of options," Cohen said. "They need to put themselves in rooms so that they can meet people ... If they're not on campus then they're usually in their cars ... You don't meet people in your cars or when you're coming and going."

Cohen said the biggest step that one has to take if he or she wants friendship is to be prepared to take risks.

 "People aren't going to always invite you," he said. "You have to put yourself in those places in which you'd usually be uncomfortable."

This evening was not one of those places, though. Cohen's talk was well received by the audience and signed copies of his book were distributed to some of the participating audience members. McKinley McMillen, a freshman psychology major, described the experience as "fun" and "interesting."

 "I'm usually a really open person," McMillen said in reflection of the numerous questions that Cohen fired at her throughout the evening. "Sometimes I'm not sure if he was joking or not."

"He's funny and he makes really good points," freshman Sara Leonard said. "I'm in theater, so I'm used to awkward situations."

Cohen's upcoming book, "Naked Dating: Five Steps to Finding the Love of your Life," will be released on April 10, 2012. Cohen describes it as "a book that will simplify relationships and change the way you look at finding love, lust or whatever you're looking for. It's a very simple way of approaching relationships that will leave you no excuses for being single if you don't want to be single."

Cohen is currently seeking college-age students to take part in this "Naked Dating" experiment by following the five steps outlined in the book. Those interested should email Cohen at harlan@helpmeharlan.com.

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