Reading for Fun To Give Yourself an Edge in the College Admissions Process

Posted on

February 12, 2018


Greg Kaplan


It should come as little surprise that great readers become great writers. 

This is good news for students preparing for the competitive college admissions process, because essays matter.  There are enough students with perfect SAT/ACT scores and GPAs to fill every spot at highly selective colleges many times over.  Once a student has demonstrated that she is qualified to be admitted to a college, admissions officers turn to an applicant’s extracurricular activities and essays to make decisions as to who adds the most value to their campus, and earns a coveted spot at their school.

Application essays cause some students anxiety because they know how much is riding on them. Regardless of the school or the AP/IB/honors program, students feel more comfortable discussing an author’s tone or the significance of a work of fiction than their own perspective or ability to add to their dream college.

This is why I suggest to all of my students to read for fun outside of class. Yes, I know how busy students are, but even if it is just a few pages a night instead of a never-ending Snap Chat conversation with a friend, I want my students to gain exposure to books that inspire them and prepare them to write great essays when applying.  By also reading books of their own choice, students are more likely to get away from ‘rote answers’ and will be able to write and talk spontaneously about something that has truly captivated their interest.

More importantly, reading consistently throughout high school will help students prepare for the reading comprehension sections of the SAT and ACT.  The iGen’s eyes are different than their parents’ due to so much screen time.  Reading printed paper (aka a book) prepares them for the test.

There is not a one-size-fits-all approach for what students should read.  Many schools ask applicants to list the books they read for fun in the last few years. By recognizing now that a college may ask your child this question, she can avoid the discomfort of not being able to answer because she did not read anything outside the curriculum. Consider books that showcase academic passions or interest in other parts of the world.  There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to what a student should read. If the book is celebrated for its contribution to society or showcases who your child is, then it will add to her application.

Feel free to email us for specific recommendations based on your child’s interests.

Wishing you fun reads that make your child a better test taker and writer!

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