Whether your child has just entered high school and you are still in that blissful state where college is but a dream, or are currently knee deep in the college process and pulling your hair out (don’t worry, you will survive – I’ve been through this twice), your head is probably swimming with questions and concerns.
Most high schools have college counselors that you and your child will probably start meeting with in the 10th or 11th grade. We found we wanted to know as much as possible about the college process ahead of time, so we spent a lot of time reading to better prepare ourselves for those meetings.
College counselors can offer wonderful advice, but it’s important for you to do your homework too. From our experience of going through this process twice, the parents who had kids that were happiest with where they matriculated to were the ones who were informed and involved.
While your kids are pouring over SAT and ACT test guides, and college guides, there will be plenty for you to read too. Here are some of the books we had on our book shelf or were recommended to us by friends and college counselors. Some are published annually so try to seek out the latest editions:
Great resources for parent and child. You will be amazed how many colleges there are and quite possibly relieved how many could end up being a good fit.
The College Navigator by The Princeton Review
The Fiske Guide To Colleges 2014 by Edward B. Fiske
U.S. News Best Colleges 2013 by U.S. News & World Report
The Insiders Guide To The Colleges compiled and edited by The Staff Of The Yale Daily News
Student’s Guide To Colleges: The Definitive Guide to America’s Top 100 Schools (Written by the real experts- the students who attend them) edited by Jordan Goldman and Colleen Buyers
College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step by Robin Mamlet and Christine VanDeVelde
College Visits & Interviews
Not every school offers interviews, but we found interviewing at your least favorite choice first made for good practice for when you do find yourself in the admissions office of your top choice.
Campus Visits And College Interviews by The College Board
Guide To College Visits: Planning Trips to Popular Campuses by Princeton Review
Lots of helpful information, but don’t get overwhelmed. Not every child has a passion in high school or has reinvented the wheel. Relax, your child will go to college.
The Truth About Getting In by Katherine Cohen
Rock Hard Apps: How To Write A Killer College Application by Katherine Cohen
What It Really Takes To Get Into The Ivy League & Other Highly Selective Colleges by Chuck Hughes
What Colleges Won’t Tell You (And Other Parents Don’t Want You To Know) by Elizabeth Wissner-Gross
Letting Go & Understanding The College Experience
Sending your child off to college can be exciting and wonderful, a realization of years of hard work, but that doesn’t mean that letting your child go won’t be the hardest thing you ever do. I found reading these helpful.
When Your Kid Goes to College: A Parent’s Survival Guide by Carol Barkin
The Naked Roommate: For Parents Only, A Parent’s Guide to the New College Experience by Harlan Cohen
Letting Go: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding the College Years by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger
For Your Freshman
My kids started leafing through these the summer before college. It’s comforting for them to know what they might expect. The lighthearted manner in which they’re written is appealing to students.
U Chic: The College Girl’s Guide to Everything by Christie Garton
The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College by Harlan Cohen
How To Survive Your Freshman Year (Hundreds of Heads Survival Guides) by Mark W. Bernstein and Yadin Kaufmann
1000 Things Every College Student Needs To Know: (Like buying your books before exams start) by Harry H. Harrison Jr.
One of my personal favorites, and a welcome chance to laugh while you’re learning about teenagers.
Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager by Anthony E. Wolf
Good luck! Do you have any books you would like to add to this list?
Wow, that’s a thorough and comprehensive list of resources, Linda! It’s going to make some parents happy and others petrified at the same time. On the one hand, wish I had your list when I went through this process with my oldest son who didn’t get into the colleges he wanted badly. (He did however transfer into one of those a year later) On the other hand, I used a college counselor who worked closely with my younger son and got him through the process and into his first choice college (plus most of the others he applied to as well) without me having to supervise or review the process each step of the way. So here’s a big shout out to you and to the talented college counselors out there.
Bonnie Frank says
Thanks for writing such a wonderful and helpful post! I would add the book, 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Look At College.
I love this list!! I will save it for my kids. I know it feels like a long way away… but it’s not!
Carpool Goddess says
Thank you! Hope this helps.
Lisa Endlich Heffernan says
Great list Linda. I thought College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step was exceptional!
Risa Nye says
In my fifteen years (plus) as a college counselor, here are the books that meant the most to me: The College Finder, by Steven Antonoff; Colleges That Change Lives, by Loren Pope;and Harvard Schmarvard, by Jay Mathews. I relied pretty heavily on the Fiske Guide also–and ignored U.S. News!
Two books I would recommend to parents are:
Read The Gatekeepers by Jacques Steinberg to get an idea of the admission process from the college side. It’s a relatively old book but is still applicable.
I laughed through Crazy U by Andrew Ferguson. It’s a humorous look at the college search and application process from from his experience with his son. It’s also full of very useful information.
Заблуден Пингвин says
I wish my mom had these resources when she was sending me to college!
Cheryl Nicholl says
Where were you when I needed you 15 years ago? Oh. That’s right. YOU were probably on your way to college ya sweet young thing!
Lynn Kellan says
Okay, it’s official. I love you. We are starting the college application process NOW, and these resources are terrific! Thanks!