Friday, June 22, 2012
The College Solution Book Review by ChristineMM
My Star Rating: 5 stars out of 5 = I Love It
My Summary Statement: Not Just About Finances - Grade 9 or 10 Is Not Too Early To Read This
This is the first book I have read about college issues. My oldest child just finished grade nine. I thought maybe it was too early to start reading books on this topic but I was incorrect. Grade nine is when parents should start reading books about college, I have learned! For one thing, some things I have been told verbally by acquaintences were myths that the author debunked. I am glad that I know the truth now rather than going on false information.
For some reason I was under the impression that this book was all about financing and money issues. -- I was wrong. The book starts out with that topic but the other four book sections are on other topics such as finding a good fit, general information, and how the US News ranking system works (and its many flaws). (If the finance topic bores you skip ahead to the other sections, then you can come back to it later. I found the rest of the book a faster and less scary read.)
This book has over 50 four page chapters. Many if not all of these topics have been covered in the author's blog, so perhaps she is used to writing in short spurts. At first this bugged me but I soon got used to it and wound up liking the division as some of this, especially the financing and cost issues, are a scary and overwhelming topic, but O'Shaugessey handles them well and helps take the mystery out of the process.
A major theme is that students seeking a liberal arts degree have a lot of options if they do not just focus on the most elite colleges. How difficult it is to gain admission to the elites and the Ivy League schools is discussed and she left me thinking that hardly anyone will ever get in so don't bother even trying. With 37,000 high schools in the USA that means there are 37,000 valedictorians and there are not enough slots in the elites to let them all in.
I especially found the topics of scholarships, the fact that sports scholarships are minute and was suprised that she recommended to focus the student's time on studying to get better grades and standardized test scores so they can apply for the many more merit aid scholarships -- not all students do sports for a possible scholarship, it is something they enjoy and it's a social outlet and a way to be in good physical shape. Also interesting was the analysis of how women and minorities have an edge over all whites and over male whites. The author's hatred of the US News ranking system is clear and it is discussed in detail.
Despite hearing pitfalls and scary statistics I somehow was left with the impression that all hope is not lost because there are a lot of colleges out there and there are multiple good fits for every student, my kids included. The financial situation is daunting due to the very imperfect federal government FAFSA system which only looks to your last year of income to determine what you can afford. I am grateful for the information that the author shared and feel that she made the discussion of this huge topic easy to understand (even if I hate the system and have serious concerns about it).
I found the book a fast and easy read but that doesn't mean it is unimportant or unhelpful. I wrote in the margins and flagged articles she mentioned to read on the Internet. This was a very useful book for me as the first book about the college process.
This review pertains to the updated revised 2nd edition published in May 2012. Since there is time-sensitive and updated information in this book I advise to only read the most current edition.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Amazon.com to publish a review on Amazon.com's site but was under no obligation to blog it or to review it favorably, and I was not paid either! For my blog's full disclosure statement see the link near the top of my blog's sidebar.