Helping your high school student plan for college can feel overwhelming.
There are so many things to consider. What schools will be the right fit for my teen? When should they apply? When should they take the ACT and SAT, which one should they take, and how should they prepare? How do they write a strong college essay? How do we fill out the financial aid forms? How do we determine the final tuition cost, and where can they find out about scholarships?
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As you begin to think about all of these questions, it may suddenly feel like there is a giant elephant sitting on your chest.
So, that brings to mind a famous question – “How do you eat an elephant?”
The answer – “One bite at a time.”
And that is exactly how you and your high schooler should tackle the whole planning for college conundrum.
There are many great resources out there to help navigate the college process and many online resources, but good old-fashioned books can also be life savers.
So, whether your high school senior hasn’t even started to consider where they might want to go to college and needs to begin researching schools or known since kindergarten and now it’s just a matter of getting or figuring out to pay for it, you’ll find the answers you’re looking for in one of these books.
Twelve college planning books to help get you started
There is a reason this book is a best seller. The book “Who Gets In and Why” can help you understand the current state of college admissions. The author, Jeff Selingo, goes inside three different college admissions offices and gives a first-hand account of how admissions officers are painstakingly making decisions about student applications. With his first-hand knowledge, he dispels common myths about the admissions process, and how more elite colleges are looking to round out their own student populations with specific students. We recommend your kids read this too!
Not sure where to start? This book explains the basics, and then moves into detailed information that you may not need right away, but probably will use later. It has handy reference pages containing checklists, testing rules, calendars, admissions statistics, college degree levels, and websites to use. Consider this the help you need to go from overwhelm to organized and on track to help your high schooler find and get into the college of their dreams.
There are many college guides out there, but counselors and other experts in the field will tell you that this one written by Edward Fiske is the one you want. It provides information and profiles on more than 350 schools and gives an insider perspective with quotes from real students and other insights you won’t find on college websites. It is fully updated and expanded every year and is widely regarded as one of the most helpful, honest, and straightforward guides that parents and high school students can rely on to help them make one of life’s most important decisions.
Looking for test prep?
Applying to colleges is stressful, but this book helps make it just a little bit easier! This book answers and guides you along the admission process. It provides you with tips for how to stand out to colleges and is written by a team of counselors, advisors, and even deans of admission with experience.
The financial aid system is complicated and the evolving role of “merit aid” is only making matters more confusing. Plus, the real value of various universities isn’t something many families fully understand. This book examines all the factors parents and high schoolers should be taking into consideration when deciding on where to go to college and how much to pay.
Information on 1.5 million scholarships, grants, and prizes is available in this directory that features awards indexed by career goal, major, academics, public service, talent, athletics, religion, ethnicity, and more. Each entry contains all the necessary information for students and parents to complete the application process, including eligibility requirements, how to obtain an application, how to get more information about each award, sponsor website listings, award amounts, and key deadlines. This guide also includes tips on how to conduct the most effective search, how to write a winning application, and how to avoid scams.
On Writing the College Application Essay is an inside guide to writing a college application essay that will stand out from the pack. Baum advises students on how to avoid platitudes and find their authentic voice. There are also helpful tools and ideas to spark the writer’s imagination and help them approach themes with originality and panache to make even the most tired topics—the ones most students should stay away from—fresh. It is all the college essay essentials you need in one book.
The College Visit Journal: Campus Visits Demystified is everything you need to get the most out of your college visit. In this journal, you will take notes, rank emotion, environment, academics, and student life, and keep track of your thoughts and takeaways for school visits. It’s a great resource for note-taking for both in-person and virtual visits.
The College Bound Organizer by Anna Constaras and Gail Liss is your step-by-step comprehensive college planning guide to organize every step of the college application process from college search through college admission, from developing a balanced list of schools to how to secure letters of recommendation. It also helps you avoid common mistakes students make during the application process.
Choosing the right college has never been more important—or more difficult. Colleges That Change Lives remains the definitive guide for high school students (and their parents) who are looking for more in their college education than football, frat parties, and giant lectures and schools that look for more than test scores and GPA. Building on the foundation of landmark author Loren Pope, Oswald spent more than a year visiting 40 colleges, speaking with students, faculty, and alumni to create these vivid and concise portraits of schools transforming the college landscape.
Over the last few decades, Americans have turned college admissions into a terrifying and occasionally devastating process, preceded by test prep, tutors, all sorts of stratagems, all kinds of rankings, and a conviction among too many young people that their futures will be determined and their worth established by which schools say yes and which say no. That belief is wrong. It’s cruel. And in Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, Frank Bruni explains why, giving students and their parents a new perspective on this brutal, deeply flawed competition and a path out of the anxiety it provokes.
This book is more for the parents than for the high schoolers, but even teenagerss can still get a lot of value out of this book! Grown and Flown is a guide about building relationships and is organized by topic to help you prepare for college and beyond as you prepare to send your child off to college.
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