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Anonymous: Which college admissions books do you recommend (like advice about applications, essays, SAT/ACT, etc.)?


Hi. I’m going to divide them up into categories![:

General University Books:

These books talk about the schools in general. It’s not about getting into the colleges but the information and stats for each school. These books can be used to figure out what schools you want to look into more. 

Fiske Guide to Colleges: has like over 300 colleges listed, admissions information about each school, standard stats, prices, similar schools, and descriptions. They also talk about personality and finding what school fits you in addition to the numbers and “prestige,” which I think is pretty important to read about. To me, these books are helpful in creating your initial list. They lay out the information for you, and it’s up to you too look more closely into the schools you like. What sounds great generalized may not be so perfect close-up.

Princeton Review’s: The Best 377 Colleges: has detailed admissions information about the schools, student quotes, interesting ranking lists like dorms and food, and descriptions that I couldn’t just google online. I really like how this one talks about not only the selectivity and stats but the life you’ll lead when you’re there. I feel like the Princeton Review is similar to listening to a friend talking about their college admissions search. 

US News Best Colleges: not really my favorite, personally, but that’s because a lot of this information is something that I’m capable of finding online. However, my school has gone above and beyond to teach us how to find information and what to look for in schools. If you’re not really sure what you should be looking for in general, whether it be price, selectivity, or majors, I would check this one out. It covers the most universities (the former really cover the well-known schools). 

General Colleges Websites:

In addition to books you should check out these websites

Collegeprowler: has the statistics and so forth about the schools, but it also has student reviews and ratings, which I think is really cool and helpful. 

CollegeView: has a lot of information about admissions and financial aid. I haven’t really used this website much, but I know a lot of other students at my school, past and present, relied on this website quite a bit. 

CollegeBoard: ah, College Board. You can’t really go wrong with College Board. However, it’s pretty cut and dry. None of the information given will in any way or form offend anyone or insult a school. Basically, it portrays them all in pretty positive lights. While it’s nice to have a fairly objective point of view, it also lacks certain insight that I, personally, want. It’s a good basic tool to use though.

College Admissions Books:

I think the problem with books like these are that they’re directed towards a very varied audience, and that’s a really difficult task to do given the undeniably idiosyncratic nature of humans. Students aren’t mass-produced and all of them have different situations—financially, academically, geographically, and so forth. However, I think that these books are good for a baseline into what the admissions process is. They can point out stuff that your parents may not be aware of in terms of modern admissions, and they can help you determine where you need to specifically focus. Unfortunately, I haven’t dedicated that much time finding a good admissions books yet, but I’m sure there are some others who found insight in some. Guys, guys, guys, do you know of any college admissions books?

College Admissions: From Application to Acceptance: I actually purchased this book early on in my junior year, so I don’t really remember all that much from it. I just know that it’s still sitting on my bookshelf, so I enjoyed it. It looks like it has a good organization, lots of contributors, questions and answers sections, and general time lines to follow. It talks about testing, GPA, extracurriculars, visiting colleges, writing essays, and all of that other stuff. I actually have some stuff bookmarked, and it looks like I’ll be taking the time to read this again once school gets out. 

College Admissions Essays Books:

I personally think reading other students’ essays can be 1) bad for your self esteem and 2) bad for your creativity. I say this because I know a couple of seniors and past-graduates who have taken their level of interest from inspiration to straight up plagiarism. These are good resources to be inspired by. Do not fall to the temptation of copying off another student’s work. Not only does it not show who you are as a student, but chances are your emulations will be pretty damn obvious. That was just a friendly PSA. =u=bb

50 Successful Harvard Application Essays: talks about avoiding traps, bad topics, how to structure your essay, and so forth in addition to student examples. There’s some really inspirational stuff in there and a good read even if you’re not applying to college. 

College Essays that Made a Difference: has a lot of essays (over 100 I believe) with information about the actual student, which I thought was pretty interesting. They also talked about how the students reworked their essays for different colleges. Oh, and they had tips on grammar and other mechanics.

Fisk Real College Essays: is divided by essay type and has commentary on the student essays. I think this one is better for students who aren’t really the best writers. I’m not trying to be rude, but I mean, the former two showcase extremely strong essays by students who just have that knack for writing. Not everyone has that within them. This book also has amazing essays, but I feel like they’re more achievable and vary in student ability, so I think this one’s great for everyone. =u=bb 

SAT Books:

I haven’t worked through like any of my SAT books fully, because I’m a lazy student, and while I’ve purchased a few, I’ve only really focused on the math sections (while skimming the rest of the book because its the night before the SAT and I have no ~*motivation*~) Also, I’m the type of student who likes the SAT prep books that have more “cheap” tricks or ways to work the SAT rather than hardcore drilling, because that’s all I really required/wanted. So, I asked some of my friends (who have all gotten 2100+ on their first go; all have increased to 2300+ second go; none of them have had private lessons), but I’m writing it mostly in 1st person, because saying she said this is awkward. However, all of these books are books that I’ve also purchased (maybe not used as much as I should have) unless otherwise stated.

Up Your Score: has a really entertaining voice to it. The authors are pretty young, and their commentary is great. Their vocabulary section was my favorite because of their sentences to help you remember them later. Their reading section was also pretty helpful because it showed you how to work the SAT. The math section covered basic stuff that we’ve all forgotten in a simple manner. I wouldn’t suggest this for kids who are absolutely bombing the SAT, but for anyone with a middle-of-the-road+ score, this would be a really helpful source. It’s informative, easy to comprehend, and a fairly quick read (or more if you use it in a more serious manner aka not the night before).

Hack the SAT: also has an amazing voice to it. This is written by a private tutor who graduated from Harvard. It’s all about the shortcuts, strategies, and tricks with him, and I think it’s great. Again, this book is best used for students who already know the math, reading, and writing, and just need to know how to work the SAT. It’s a nice quick read, but if you’re really struggling, this shouldn’t be your only source. Rather, I’d use it as a later supplement or something of that nature.

Pass Key to the SAT: I think this one, while not as witty as the others, is a good source of information. It has the tricks that we all want to know, but it also teaches readers more on the learning aspect, rather than the tricks, since I think that tricks can really only be used if you know what you’re doing in the first place (unless you’re “plugging” and “chugging” numbers). While the voice of the book isn’t as entertaining, it’s nicely condensed into a small book you could easily take with you to school or wherever you go. 

The Official SAT Study Guide: I don’t personally have this, but I know a lot of people who has used this as a resource. It comes straight from the College Board itself and has 10 official practice tests. Is it interesting to read? No. Is it kind of bulky? Yes. Will this be great for students who really need the practice? Definitely. If you’re just not clicking with the SAT, I suggest picking this one up. 

Cracking the SAT: I pretty much love anything the Princeton Review does, so consider that for a moment (I say this because some people love Princeton Review. Others love Barrons. Others like Kaplan and so forth). This book is a mixture of techniques for beating the SAT and actually learning the material. It also has five practice exams, which is nice for those of you who need to recognize the material before you get there. Their grammar chapter is also apparently amazing.

Gruber’s Complete SAT Guide: Okay, I’ve actually never heard of this one before, but one of my friends who got a 2360 used this guide solely, so it must be good. He said that the explanations were really helpful, and it offers a good combination of tricks and actual information. It has a lot of strategies and points out what you get wrong and why. 

ACT Books:

I honestly only have the Kaplan ACT book, and I hated it. (I made it through about 50 pages before giving up). Additionally, that was the only preparation I did for the ACT as all juniors in my county have to take the ACT on a certain date. I never planned to study for the ACT nor do I plan to study for the ACT, since it’s not really my cup of tea. Moreover, a lot of my friends were so content with their SAT scores that they kinda just went into the ACT without preparation or care. Therefore, do any of you guys know of good ACT books?  I’m pretty much clueless in this area.

So, yep. That’s all I can think of for now. =u=bb I hope this helps you! And seriously, guys, if you know of any ACT or College Admissions books, help a brotha out.


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a book fountain in Budapest

this is one of the coolest fountains I’ve ever seen

#You and I remember Budapest very differently. #That’s because you were too fascinated by the book fountain to notice anything else. #TASHA. IT WAS A FOUNTAIN THAT LOOKED LIKE A /BOOK./ #I know I was there— #BUT DO YOU REALLY KNOW?




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100lb of Magnetic Putty

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