Must-Read Books for Parents and Teens: The 10 Best College Guides

Must-Read Books for Parents and Teens: The 10 Best College Guides

Must-Read Books for Parents and Teens: The 10 Best College Guides

Prior to the internet, data-starved applicants had to go to Barnes & Noble or another now-defunct bookstore (remember Borders and Waldenbooks?) to get information beyond what was provided in the official glossy brochures that they received in the mail. Some of these extra-thick volumes are no longer required because of the internet. After all, a quick and simple Google search can yield basic admissions statistics such as SAT range, average GPA, tuition prices, and acceptance rates. Guidebooks, on the other hand, are still quite useful because of the advantages they provide.

The ten books chosen here will benefit students and parents in one (or more) of the following ways: 

A broad view of what a college education entails 

  • Taking on a consumer mentality 
  • Increasing the scope of your college search 
  • Understanding the underlying nature of college admissions selection 
  • The nuts and bolts of getting in—strategies and tips 

Note:  The numbers 1 through 10 do not indicate any sort of ranking. 

1)The Reality of College Admissions - Brennan Barnard and Rick Clark

This new book by Brennan Barnard, Director of College Counseling at The Derryfield School and US Performance Academy, and Rick Clark, Director of Admissions at Georgia Tech, is fantastic. This excellent text covers a variety of themes, including the idea of beginning one's college search by asking the simple but vital big-picture question, "Why am I going to college?" Parents should follow sensible advice, such as: a) discussing openly about college costs with your child, and b) guiding your youngster through the college process while letting them sail the ship. Clark and Bernard, in keeping with College Transitions' philosophy, encourage students and parents to become better higher education consumers by seeking answers to tough questions like, "Why do students leave?" at a particular school. Without a doubt, this book will assist students and parents in developing the proper mindset for the college application process.


2)Who You Are Isn't Determined by Where You Go - Frank Bruni

The subtitle of this book is "An Antidote to College Admissions Mania," which pretty much sums up what it does. Where You Go succeeded in popularizing the crucial lesson that the panic surrounding elite college admission is generally unfounded, and Bruni provides a plethora of instances of people who have gone on to achieve great things.

3)How to Pay for College - Kalman Chany

This guide, which was previously known as Paying for College Without Going Broke, provides short and long-term options for receiving financial aid. Worksheets to help you determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), line-by-line FAFSA instructions, pros and disadvantages of 529 plans, how to optimize aid, and how to handle situations like these are all included in this practical guide.

4)How to Raise a Child into an Adult - Julie Lythcott-Haims

How to Raise an Adult is an appeal to parents of teenagers to forsake their helicopters and start educating their children for real-world achievement, written by the former dean of freshmen at Stanford. The author examines the negative consequences of "overparenting" in high schools, colleges, and workplaces. She gives substantial evidence to back up her claim, as well as good alternative tactics that parents can employ to help their children develop resilience and confidence. The importance of a parent's role in the college search and admissions process cannot be overstated, and Lythcott-Haims gives the ideal road map for the long and winding road ahead.

5)The Fiske College Guide - Edward Fiske

This annual, now in its 36th edition, was written by Edward Fiske, former education editor of The New York Times, and honors the "best and most interesting" schools in the United States. Around 320 colleges and institutions usually make the cut. 

The Fiske Guide is beautifully written, and the school profiles are fascinating to read. Throughout each school biography, there are witty quotes from students and faculty. Rich descriptions of the entire academic environment, programmatic options, and especially unique extracurricular/recreational possibilities, provide the reader with a thorough understanding of the place. There are also some helpful lists that break down the featured schools by cost and graduation debt load, in addition to extensive biographies of hundreds of colleges and universities.

6)The Best 385 Colleges, according to The Princeton Review - The Princeton Review and Robert Franek

The Princeton Review has published annual "Best Colleges" editions since 1992, based on polls of over 140,000 students at colleges and universities around the country. 

This book is a great place to start for any high school student interested in going to college. It highlights outstanding programs, popular majors, and prominent campus features at many, but certainly not all, of the best universities in the United States. Its plethora of lists will also aid students looking for like-minded peers by promoting institutions with LGBT friendliness, religious student bodies, intramural sports, religious student bodies, intramural sports, desirable college towns, study abroad options, a Greek or non-Greek-dominated social scene, and so on.

7)The Keepers of the Gate - Jacques Steinberg

This timeless classic tells the story of a journalist who spends the whole admissions cycle at Wesleyan University. This book is incredibly enlightening and accessible due to the lively tales of the admissions officials' and applicants' experiences. What happened in the Wesleyan admissions war room soon before the century is incredibly relevant to today's applicants, despite the fact that it was written in 1999. Anyone interested in attending a highly selective college or university should read this book to get a glimpse "behind the curtain" of a flawed and subjective process.


8)The College Answer - Lynn O'Shaughnessy

This is one of our all-time favorite books on higher education, as it persuasively argues that families should prioritize undergraduate costs when making college decisions. Most books claiming to have "secrets" to finding tuition money are full of misinformation and empty promises. However, O'Shaughnessy's is dead on. There's a lot of information here about how to acquire merit-based aid and identify colleges where you can go for a fraction of the cost. You can spend your time looking for private scholarships until you're blue in the face, or you can read about a real "solution" in this incredible resource.

9)Survival Stories for Parents of College Students 

The author, Wendy David-Gaines, is well-known for debunking college cliches. She delivers you the "POCS reality" after the cliche. Wendy accomplishes this in her book by collating real-life parent anecdotes. The stories (both pre-POCS and POCS) are straightforward, light-hearted, frequently hilarious, and simple to read. But here's the kicker: they give parents more information about their children's situations.

10)A Parent's Guide to Supporting Your Student's Freshman Year at University 

Summer, early fall, late fall, and spring are the time periods covered in this book during your student's first year at college. Each division gives parents all of the information they need to help their students through the first year of college.

The summer part (Get Ready) covers themes such as the changes you'll experience as your position evolves, what to expect during orientation, roommates, finances, and college culture. Move-in day, Greek life, parent visits, and how to deal with troublesome kids are all covered in the autumn portion (Settling In). Care packages, holidays, food and fitness, and studying abroad are all discussed in the late fall segment (Adjusting). Housing, student stress, transferring, and student loans are discussed in the spring episode (Looking Forward). The last chapter includes sections for writing down phone numbers, important dates, and a four-year checklist.

 Why the guides?


If you're having trouble deciding which college to attend after receiving numerous acceptance letters, a college guide book might help you make an informed selection. Personal experiences, the types of courses you expect, and some of the unique selling factors that individual universities have are all included in the guide books. Personal anecdotes from faculty, alumni, and current students are included in some.



                College guides are always full of information for both scholars and tutors interested in learning   more about the program. If you acquaint yourself with the course content before admission you will be in a better state of mind about what to expect, what to read, and other information that will help you pass several assessments.


                The most common concern among students entering college, particularly those who will be moving to a new town or country, is understanding how to get around. If you have no idea    where the college is located, what kind of social life the students have, or how to get around, including doing basic things like shopping, it can be incredibly stressful. You'll know where certain things are and what to do if you run into problems when trying to navigate your way around if you have a guide book.


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