College Access Counseling

My firm, College Access Counseling, Ltd., works with adults and organizations who counsel and support first-generation and minority students on the way to college. I teach the ins and outs of the college process, helping them build social and cultural capital for their students. Click here for more information. I also write for NACAC's blog, Admitted. You can read my entries as well as some of my colleagues', here. Click here to read one of my entries in the New York Times's blog, The Choice.

April 16, 2008

One Good Book

I've just finished a very low-key, well-adjusted book concerning the college process that is a wonderful antidote to the frantic "win-at-any-cost" college books out there. It's called College Admission Together: It Takes a Family, by Steven Roy Goodman & Andrea Leiman. Unlike nearly every other book out there, it focuses on the family dynamic as students and parents approach the college years. I think if more parents read this book they'd get what we counselors are trying to tell them when we say "Take it easy."

The authors make a point of combining college process information with observations about what's happening in teens' lives as college looms. They ask parents to take stock of their children's changes and look into their own attitudes in order to make the fact of eventual separation as smooth and productive as possible. Within the many stressors of high school and pre-college life, the authors find ways to create positive moments when parents and their children can communicate better and learn more about each other.

If you're a college counselor, you know the frustration of working with parents who seem to have no idea about what their children really want or who they are. These parents insist on particular colleges for their children, or insist that you have to "chase after" Johnny to complete his applications or evern meet with you. You'll see these parents in this book but not as caricatures or objects of derision, simply as people for whom the process can be as stressful as it is for their children. It's an understanding and even compassionate book for that.

As I read the book I heard many things I've suggested to parents over the years--take a breath, listen more than talk to you child, step back and see him/her as a developing adult, and so on. Often these suggestions fell on deaf ears. Seeing it all in print can often be helpful and this book could be a great tool to get parents to look at themselves without a counselor's being the one to deliver the sometimes unwelcome news.

The book is mercifully free of simplistic remedies for things like procrastination although abundant with simple methods for dealing with them. If putting things off is a problem with your teen, review the coming week's calendar every Sunday evening; not only can college tasks be outlined, but you and your child can think ahead about other things as well at a time that's not full of anxiety and that, perhaps, comes on the heels of a day relaxing.

It's nice to read a book that doesn't have an undercurrent of frantic striving to it. College Admissions Together takes a broad view of a turbulent time in a family's life and lets you see it's possible to ride the wave and come out nicely on the far side. I recommend it highly.

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Blog Archive

Books About College, Teens, and American Culture

  • A History of American Higher Education
  • A Hope in the Unseen
  • Admission
  • Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic
  • African Americans and College Choice
  • Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture
  • Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men
  • Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers
  • Campus Life
  • Class
  • College Access & Opportunity Guide
  • College Admissions and the Public Interest
  • College Admissions Together: It Takes a Family
  • College Gold: The Step by Step Guide for Paying for College
  • College Knowledge: What It Really Takes for Students to Succeed and What We Can Do to Get Them Ready
  • College Unranked: Ending the College Admissions Frenzy
  • Colleges that Change Lives
  • Consumed
  • Contradictions of School Reform: Educational Costs of Standardized Testing
  • Doing School: How We are Creating a Generation of Stressed-out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students
  • First in the Family
  • Fiske Guide to Colleges
  • Going to College: How Social, Economic, and Educational Factors Influence the Decisions Students Make
  • Harvard, Schmarvard
  • Higher Learning, Greater Good: The Private & Social Benefits of Higher Education
  • Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood
  • I Am Charlotte Simmons
  • Increasing Access to College:
  • Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admission and Beyond
  • Leveling the Playing Field: Justice, Politics, and College Admissions
  • Life: The Movie: How Entertainment Conquered America
  • Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams
  • Looking Beyond the Ivy League
  • Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions
  • Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class
  • Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes
  • Race and Class Matters at an Elite College
  • Rescuing Your Teenager From Depression
  • Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education
  • Sophomore Guide to College & Career: Preparing for life After High School
  • Standardized Minds: The High Price of America's Testing Culture and What We Can Do to Change It
  • Status Anxiety
  • Taking Time Off
  • Tearing Down the Gates: Confronting the Class Divide in American Education
  • The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy
  • The Bond: Three Young Men Learn to Forgive & Reconnect with Their Fathers
  • The Case Against Standardized Testing: Raising the Scores, Ruining the Schools
  • The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton
  • The Culture of Narcissism
  • The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College
  • The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in American Life
  • The Little College Handbook: A First Generation's Guide to Getting in and Staying In
  • The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College
  • The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfull a Dream
  • The Pressured Child: Helping Your Child Find Success in School and Life
  • The Price of Admission: How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges--and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates
  • The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
  • The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager
  • The Secret Lives of Overachievers
  • The Unintended Consequences of High Stakes Testing
  • Universities in the Marketplace: The Commercialization of Higher Education
  • What Color Is Your Parachute? for Teens