Freshmen Reading

To get students engaged in discussions about relevant and diverse topics, many colleges are assigning a book as a common reading project “to start the conversation” during freshman orientation or in classes at the beginning of the semester.

Here is a sample of some of the books freshmen in the class of 2018 were asked to read over the summer by the colleges and universities where they are enrolling:

  • Texas State University: Coming of Age in Mississippi, by Anne Moody
  • Juniata College: It’s Complicated, by dana boyd
  • Bucknell University and Goucher College: The Reluctant Fundamentalist, by Mohsin Hamid
  • Georgetown University: All Our Names, by Dinaw Mengestu
  • Mansfield University of Pennsylvania: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
  • Johns Hopkins University: Happier,  by Tal Ben-Shahar
  • Princeton University: The Meaning of Life and Why It Matters, by Susan Wolf
  • Penn State University: Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • University of Pennsylvania: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors and the Collision of Two Cultures, by Anne Fadiman
  • Villanova University and Longwood University: The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, by Wes Moore
  • Stanford University:Physics for Future Presidents:The Science Behind the Headlines, by Richard Muller; Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout, by Lauren Redniss; and My Year of Meats, by Ruth Ozeki
  • Colorado College: Hamlet, by William Shakespeare
  • Smith College: Whistling Vivaldi, by Claude Steele
  • University of Wisconsin: I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai
  • Tulane University: Hope Against Hope, by Sarah Carr
  • Providence College: The Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Washington University in St Louis: Covering the Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights, by Kenji Yoskino

Current High School Students: Why You Should Be Reading:

1. Whether you read a paperback, or on your IPad and Kindle, a good book offers you a chance to imagine, to learn, and to escape into other cultures, times and settings.

2. Reading improves your comprehension and vocabulary and may contribute to an improved SAT/ACT score.

3. There is a correlation between leisure reading and academic achievement

4. Reading is good preparation for future college courses in which you may be required to read a new book each week.

Writing Successful Application Essays

College application essays matter. Here is some advice to keep in mind:

  • Your essay should tell your readers, who are admissions officers, something about you beyond the rest of your application materials such as your GPA and SAT scores. Your narrative essay should reveal both your unique perspective and your writing skills.
  • Don’t pick a topic or story that could easily be told by someone else. The most common college essay topics relate to sports or mission trips.
  • Think about what you want your readers to know. What story do you have to tell?  Your essay should not be an epic tale of your life, but provide insight into who you are, and how you make a difference. What are you passionate about? What are the pivotal points in your life thus far? Your essay should reveal one small story or a moment in time.
  • Be sure and capture your reader’s attention immediately with a startling statement, a funny example or an anecdote. Journalists call this a “hook” and speech writers call it an “attention getter.”  Your content should be focused and have a clear theme. Conclude by referring back to your introduction to give your essay a sense of balance. Above all, you want to keep your reader, reading!
  • Avoid writing an essay that will embarrass the reader and don’t try and sell yourself. Just show that admissions officer who you are.
  • Be succinct and make every sentence count. Write, read aloud and rewrite. Proofread and edit. Stay within the required word count. Abraham Lincoln once wrote: “I would have written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time.”

“College admissions is not a race to be run or a prize to be won, but a match to be made!”