Last week I gave a talk at a local P.T.O. meeting, explaining to a room of parents why the phrase "it looks good to colleges" is a red flag, what the "Am I worthy?" mindset is, and why it's a better idea to treat college admissions like a relationship. After the talk, a woman asked if I had any books I could recommend. Of course I do! Here are four, in no particular order.
How to Be a High School Superstar, by Cal Newport. Newport rejects the idea that you have to choose between being an interesting person who sets your own goals and getting accepted to selective universities. In fact, he believes that being an independent and interesting person is the best way to become a part of your chosen school. How much do I like this book? One year I bought around 17 copies and gave one to each of the 9th graders in my Advocacy class. I knew that few, if any, would actually read it, but I also thought it would be worth it if even one did. I've written about Newport before.
Mindset, by Carol Dweck. Dweck is a psychologist who explains the difference between a "fixed mindset," in which people believe that their talent and intelligence is pretty much fixed at birth, and the "growth mindset," in which people believe they can expand their talent and intelligence through work. You can see Dweck's Ted Talk here. Earlier I wrote about a study that found mindset to be the key indicator of success around the world--even more predictive of success than home environment and demographics.
Where You go Is Not Who You'll Be, by Frank Bruni. This book is probably the best known on the topic for people who aren't involved in education or college admissions. It's a New York Times bestseller, written by a New York Times writer. Bruni uses anecdote, facts & figures, and good storytelling to call for a more sane approach to college.
adMission Posible, by Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz. This book is the most practical and technical on the list. Shaevitz, who has worked both in college admissions and marriage counseling, takes the same ideals as Newport and Bruni and puts them into a lots of actionable checklists and how-to's. If you're looking for a step-by-step workbook, this is a good one.
There are tons of books out there to help with college admissions. Of course some are better than others. Whenever I check out the selection at the book store, I find that about half could easily be titled "How to get into an Ivy League school even though you know you probably don't deserve to." Do not buy any of those books. As a general rule of thumb, avoid anything with "ivy" in the title or imagery--they're adding to your stress, not helping with it.
Thank you for reading! If you have any book recommendations, leave a comment. Please share this post with people you know. If you have questions, suggestions, or comments, I'd love to hear them. It's easy to follow Apply with Sanity on Facebook and Twitter. You can get Apply with Sanity sent to your inbox monthly by signing up here.