Columnist accepts, rejects and waitlists books about college admissions.


Before you read my opinion, remember that while these books are for the most part good resources, all of these books and everything I say about them must be taken with a grain of salt. Every student and their circumstances are different. No book, strategy or article can truly tell you which college is right for you or if college is right for you at all.


College Admissions Cracked: Saving Your Kid (and Yourself) from the Madness
By Jill Margaret Shulman

Everything about this book is funny, down-to-earth and honest. Shulman, a former college admissions officer, calls the book a support group for stressed parents. She calmly walks you through every step of choosing colleges and the admission process, starting with what to do in the fall of junior year. Shulman breaks everything down into basic terms and doesn’t judge you. Hilarious and genuinely helpful, be sure to read this all the way through.

Fiske Countdown to College:

41 To-Do Lists and a Plan for

Every Year of High School

By Edward Fiske and Bruce Ham- mond

Less of a book and more of a long to-do list (as the title implies), “Countdown to College” gives action items for each year of high school, for both students and parents. It is short and concise, easy to read in a couple of hours and it has some decent tips and tricks for both surviving high school and making it to college.


David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
By Malcolm Gladwell

This book is an anthology, with each chapter focusing on a different subject area that reinforces the main theme: what we as society think of as advantages can truly be disadvantages and vice versa. The only chapter about college, titled “Caroline Sacks” after the pseud- onym of the woman the chapter revolves around, is the only chapter I read in full. The “Sacks” chapter asked and tried to answer the question “Is it better to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond?” Meaning, would you rather be at the top of your class at an average college or be within the lower ranks of your class at a highly-selective university?

Using this woman’s experience
at Brown University in which she abandoned her love of science due to the competitive environment and seemingly higher intelligence of everyone else at Brown, Gladwell argues that it is better to thrive in a small environment than suffer in a large one. I believe that you don’t have to choose; you can be a big fish in a big pond or a small fish in a small pond, but it’s all up to you.You can succeed at a smaller college or fail at a larger one, the important thing is to find the right college for you.


Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania By Frank Bruni

While you may have heard many recommendations for this book, I believe it is overhyped. Bruni has a simple message to not let college admissions mania consume you, but it is delivered in a holier-than-thou manner. The book is written for parents and reads like a condescending lecture, but Bruni has good intentions. He is trying to say that college is not everything and you can
get a good education anywhere, but he delivers it in a very dry manner. His message is very important—especially in UA—where college admissions are considered a status symbol. That said, this is a good book if you’re obsessing over getting into what you think is a “good school.”