Books to Help the Search                                                          by Patti Brugman


         This year, consider giving a great college book to the high school student in your family! Christmas break is the perfect time for a junior to start the college process.  And since this is a season for excitement, I’m going to offer you three books which read like page-turning adventures, have a sense of story and plot, and are full of information, as well.  All this from college preparation books?  Absolutely!

         The first book for every college season, is a real door stopper: The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2012.  For a modest price, students (and college advisors) get a load of good reading.  Edward Fiske researches and updates his information every year on the best 310 colleges in the country, with the best from the UK and Canada as well.  He offers readable entries on each college with terse student quotes like this one about Macalester: “Mac students are activists.” Even in that one short take, we learn the lingo and the passion of the school.  About Marlboro, one student says, “It isn’t a town so much as a few buildings with a college a mile or so down the road.” A Northeastern student says, “From ethnicity to interest, Northeastern is very diverse.” The quotes are a highlighted alongside the deeper text of each entry which includes information about the academics, school spirit, dorm life, and the extras that make a school stand out.  From front to back, “Fiske” is so readable that it works as a coffee table book as well!

         The next book on my “Christmas for Juniors” list is Crazy U, by Andy Ferguson, a classmate of mine from Occidental College. Andy has always been a funny guy.  He’s also a political writer for The Weekly Standard which gives him both authority and voice.  In this book, he takes on the role of a devoted parent who as he and his son journey through the crazy admissions process.  My favorite chapter is when Andy, so determined to help his son do well on the SAT, studies for the test—himself!  His take on what it takes to score well is laugh out-loud hilarious. Parents as well as students will love this very personal and very funny tour through junior and senior year to finally being accepted to—where else-- Crazy U!

         Getting In! (the Zinch guide) is a new find this year.  This is a book packed full of information, but with easy to read sidebars and clearly labeled bits.  This is a book for the reader who wants to know everything about applying to college.  There is an analysis of your high school profile, the myths behind selectivity, how to choose the best college for you (a favorite topic of mine), a plan for the process that reads like a military strategy, and the all-important chapter on paying for college.  This book provides a do-it-yourself beginner’s guide to each step of the admissions process.  I just love this stuff.  Our students are on every page right next to all the questions they ask!  Read and enjoy each of these books, keep them on your shelf to read again later and you’ll start loving the process as much as we do.  Ho, ho, ho.