The 11 Best Books for College Admissions and How to Pay for College [2020 Update]

Weighted GPAs. Unweighted GPAs. AP scores. Dual Enrollment grades. Essays. Recommendation letters. More essays. SAT scores. ACT scores. PSAT scores. Composite scores. Writing Scores. Volunteer requirements. FAFSA. And that’s all before your child’s senior year of high school!

Overwhelmed yet? I bet you are!

But don’t fret because these college admissions books, and other titles that will help you pay for college, have all the info you may need to help get that celebration started.

Note: We receive compensation from purchases made through some of the links on this page.

Best College Admissions Books

The Truth about College Admission: A Family Guide to Getting In and Staying Together
by Rick Clark and Brennan Barnard
Rick Clark, Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Georgia Tech, has written this excellent guide, offering families a chance to learn how admissions officers think about the college application process.  Written with co-author Brennan Barnard, Director of College Counseling at The Derryfield School, this is THE admission guidebook for families that will take them through the entire college admissions process.

college admissions book

Fiske Guide to Colleges
by Edward B. Fiske
The Holy Bible of college rundowns, the Fiske Guide has been rating and reporting on all things post high school education for over 36 years. When you don’t know where to start, start here.
college admissions book

Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges 
by Loren Pope (Author) and revised by Hilary Masell Oswald (Editor)
Exceptionally researched and written, pick up this title if you’re looking to find the diamond in the rough of colleges. If you’re seeking more than football game and keg parties, and need a comprehensive and regionally targeted list of options and their academic offerings, don’t let this one get by you.
Best college admissions books

Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania
by Frank Bruni
This New York Times bestselling book is your first line of defense against the overly competitive and anxiety-laden process. Reassuringly, award-winning journalist Bruni defends the fact that the college your teen ends up attending is anything but the sole determining factor in what kind of successful future they will have.
Best college admissions books

 The Grown and Flown Book (2019) will support you through your teen’s high school years including the college admissions process and learning how to say goodbye at the freshman dorm.

Grown and Flown book

Choosing College: How to Make Better Learning Decisions Throughout Your Life (2019)
by Michael B. Horn and Bob Moesta
Choosing a college is the most complicated process in our teens’ lives, and is easily one of the most perplexing and expensive ones for parents, too. Authors and Horn and Moesta created a research-based approach to help families better understand what’s motivating their student to attend secondary education and how to find the best match that includes not only traditional 4-year colleges but also community college, vocational training and more.

college admissions book

College Essay Essentials: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Successful College Admissions Essay
by Ethan Sawyer
The college application essay is the most difficult part of the college process, for many students.  Ethan Sawyer, AKA The College Essay Guy, is here to help with his comprehensive guide to writing the college essay. Filled with tips, exercises and essays from students who gained admission to their top choice schools, this book will take the sting out of the essay-writing process for your teen (and you!)
College Essay Essentials

College Match: A Blueprint for Choosing the Best School for You
by Dr. Steven R. Antonoff
If Tinder wrote a book on finding your perfect college match, this would be it. Recently updated, it is revised and full of worksheets to help students begin the narrowing down process of college choices, this title also helps you find what college guidebook is right for you.

Countdown to College: 21 ‘To Do’ Lists for High School
by Valerie Pierce
The only checklist title out there, and one that covers your to-dos starting freshman year through senior year, Countdown is a comprehensive resource to ensure you have dotted all you “i’s” and crossed your “t’s,” and don’t miss a single deadline.
college admissions book

B+ Grades, A+ College Application: How to Present Your Strongest Self, Write a Standout Admissions Essay, and Get Into the Perfect School for You
by Joie Jager-Hyman
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need 10 AP classes, score in the 95% percentile on the SAT, and have a 5.0 GPA to get into college these days. B and C students have just as many great college options as valedictorians, and you can learn all about them in this guide written by a former Dartmouth admission officer. If you need help turning an average impression into a stellar one for college admissions, this book is for you.
Best college admissions books

How to Pay for College Books

Paying for College, 2020 Edition: Everything You Need to Maximize Financial Aid and Afford College (College Admissions Guides)
by Princeton Review, Kalman Chany
Including the latest FAFSA forms, guidelines, and help for the 2020-2021 year, Newsday proclaimed this to be a “first rate guide to the financial aid maze,” and covers everything you think you’re missing when it comes to funding college.”

paying for college book

The Ultimate Scholarship Book 2020: Billions of Dollars in Scholarships, Grants and Prizes
by Gen Tanabe and Kelly Tunable
At a whopping 784 +pages and subdivided into more categories than you thought you needed, this is your go to start book when seeking college funding other than student loans. Jam pack full of all the info you will need to apply for each of the entries, this is your one stop shop for all things scholarship.

scholarship book

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Weighted GPAs. Unweighted GPAs. AP scores. Dual Enrollment grades. Essays. Recommendation letters. More essays. SAT scores. ACT scores. PSAT scores. Composite scores. Writing Scores. Volunteer requirements. FAFSA. There is so much to know for the college admission process and these 11 books are the best. #collegeapplication #collegeadmission #books

About Melissa Fenton

Melissa Fenton is a freelance writer and adjunct librarian at Pasco-Hernando State College. Find her writing all over the internet, but her work mostly on the dinner table. Find her on Facebook 
and on twitter at @melissarunsaway

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