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As you navigate the college search and application process, this college reading list for high school students – and families – will help you figure out YOUR best next steps. While maligned in much of the US as a stressful, often negative process, these authors are here to remind you that YOU are in the driver’s seat and the process is what you make of it. It CAN be a process of self-discovery, growth, and broadening your perspectives – if you let it.
So here’s a place to start moving beyond the bumper sticker, with this College Reading List.
College Reading List: The Value and Purpose of Education
by Tara Westover
This memoir provides a perspective that will be jaw-dropping to some, and eerily familiar to others – but moving and inspirational to us all. Forced into both social and academic isolation by her family until she was seventeen, Educated shares the author’s emergence into the broader world, and into academia – a journey that makes the reader hard-pressed to take any moment of their own education for granted.
by Madeline Levine
A renowned parenting expert makes a case for what will help the next generation not just survive, but thrive. Hint: it’s not about helicoptering over their grades or slow-plowing for them in hard conversations, or employing the parenting “virtual reality” of “we” (as in We are applying to Harvard. Or We have a tough junior year schedule).
by Ned Johnson and William Stixrud
Talking about college is just one aspect of teen parenting – but it can be tough territory to navigate if you don’t have a solid foundation. In their first book, psychiatrist Bill Stixrud and highly-sought after tutor Ned Johnson helped parents identify ways to step back and support their children in being more independent or self-driven. Now they provide tools to support conversations and dialogue with teens and young adults that foster that sense of independence and agency.
by Paul Tough
First Published as “The Years that Matt Most,” this important work has been republished for a new age: Have you ever wondered who benefits from college and who loses out? Did you seize every possible opportunity in your college experience? or did other factors leave you on the sidelines? Paul Tough dives into these questions – interviewing dozens of students throughout the country to learn about their experiences in American colleges and universities – public and private, large and small, urban and rural.
College Reading List: Choosing a College
by Frank Bruni
Where You Go is Not Who You’ll Be – the title says it all. A clear case against choosing an undergraduate institution for its name. With simple, straightforward data to support the case for less stress and more being a teenager. This book has been on my must-read list for teens and families since it was first published in 2016 – it provides an essential foundation and perspective.
by Jeff Selingo
Ever want to get “under the hood” in the admissions process? Here is your chance to step inside, guided by author Jeff Selingo, at three very different US institutions: the University of Washington (Seattle), Emory University (Atlanta) and Davidson College (North Carolina). Insight into the business of college admissions, as well as the driving forces of enrollment management and institutional priorities – all of which are distinctly NOT about YOU, the individual applicant. It’s time to rethink the process – and put yourself in the driver’s seat for as much of it as possible.
THE PRICE YOU PAY FOR COLLEGE: AN ENTIRELY NEW ROAD MAP FOR THE BIGGEST FINANCIAL DECISION YOUR FAMILY WILL EVER MAKE
by Ron Leiber
There is some financial aid vocabulary that you probably have a handle on. Scholarships. Grants. Loans. But Ron Leiber is here to remind us that it is not that simple. Merit aid. Discounting. Subsidized Loans. Making matters even more complicated, the landscape for all of this is tied to the unscientific “desirability” of certain colleges and universities (ie, the more desirable, the less discounting they need to provide to fill their class). While the machinations behind enrollment management mean that marketing and public relations strategies are hyper-focused on scientifically targeting the applicants most likely to yield (that is, actually enroll in a given school) at a very specific price.
THE TRUTH ABOUT COLLEGE ADMISSIONS: A FAMILY GUIDE TO GETTING IN AND STAYING TOGETHER & FAMILY ORGANIZER FOR YOUR COLLEGE SEARCH
by Brennan Barnard and Rick Clark
For families in the midst of college-related chaos, this pair of resources from Brennan Barnard and Rick Clark are just what the doctor, er, counselor, ordered. A step by step guide, with thoughtful prompts for the entire family to consider, the book, and brand new workbook, will help you all stay grounded. They are both essential additions to your college reading list.
College Reading List: Adulting & Life After College
THERE IS LIFE AFTER COLLEGE: WHAT PARENTS AND STUDENTS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT NAVIGATING SCHOOL TO PREPARE FOR THE JOBS OF TOMORROW
by Jeff Selingo
Getting to college is what many parents and educators are hyper-focused on, but Mr. Selingo argues that what happens after college is where our focus should be. How can students use their time in college to understand what drives them – and how to channel that into a meaningful career match – is what he focuses on.
by Julie Lythcott-Haims
Julie Lythcott-Haims has done it again in her long-awaited follow up to How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. This time, she tackles “adulting” from the inside out – picking the brains – and hearts – of many, many unique individuals and managing to weave together a universal guide to finding your footing and moving forward.