About the Book

TAKING FLIGHT: Mastering Executive Function is the extraordinary account of how Carolyn Carpeneti created the system that saved her son from early college failure. Carolyn’s son had effectively coped with “learning differences” through high school and was ultimately accepted into the university of his dreams. Only weeks into his freshman year, however, Carolyn was stunned to discover that her son was on the verge of flunking out. The problem, it turned out, was not lack of intelligence, interest, or motivation but weak executive function: the ability to plan and organize, manage time, initiate action, and achieve goals—skills that often do not develop until the late teens to mid-twenties.

Taking Flight explores the silent epidemic of weak/delayed executive function and how it may be the key to why 25% to 30% of college freshmen don’t return a second year, or why only 56% of college students graduate within five years. By exploring Carolyn’s journey and uncovering the growing gap between traditional education and its failure to help kids thrive, succeed, and perform at their best, this book shines a light on the profound frustration families experience in seeing their children struggle or fail and attempting to understand the causes behind it. Carolyn presents the issue of executive function in a clear, accessible, and relatable manner and chronicles her step-by-step approach to support her son to fulfill his dreams and achieve success far beyond what many people expected. The hard-won, practical solutions she embraced, many of her own devising, she now shares here, so that readers can help their struggling loved ones unlock their incredible potential.

Read an excerpt


Reviews of Taking Flight


“Essential reading to fully understand the struggles that too many kids, teens and college-aged young people face in school. Taking Flight is a powerful story by a keenly insightful mom on how to make a difference in every student’s life.

—Jack O’Connell, Former California Superintendent of Public Instruction

“The transition to college can be brutal and the sink or swim attitude is not a solution. In “Taking Flight” Carolyn Carpeneti has identified both the problems and solutions. More importantly, her voice is that of a mother who has real experience and the emotion that goes with it. The struggles on this journey are important to note. The happy ending to the story is a welcome result of love, hard work and persistence.

— Dr. Richard A. Moran, President, Menlo College

Carolyn’s willingness to get ‘into the weeds’ with her son, experience discomfort through many difficult conversations, gather resources, and train her son through his graduation is remarkable. It takes all levels of grittiness to move forward when challenges come up and sometimes it needs to be a partnership between parents and their children. It just takes one person willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty on behalf of a student.”

— Maria Stutsman y Marquez, Student Success Specialist, University of New Mexico