Recommended Reading

If you read all of these books, you’ll win a prize! The prize will be a meeting with Mr. Playe to discuss the books and to receive an item of college swag from Mr. Playe’s collection! Happy reading!

The Price You Pay for College: An Entirely New Road Map for the Biggest Financial Decision Your Family Will Ever Make by Ron Lieber

2021- This is a very insightful book about the entire college search process. It includes plenty of practical advice on how to pay for college and what to expect. If you read one book about college admissions, it should be this one.

Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions by Jeffrey Selingo

2020- This book chronicles a journalist's “year inside three selective college admissions offices” (Davidson College, Emory University, and University of Washington). It sheds light on how admissions decisions are made. It offers insight into what students might be able to do to improve their odds, but also highlights how often the factors behind admissions decisions are more or less out of our control. This could be heartening or it could cause anxiety. Read with an open mind.

The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us by Paul Tough

2019- This is an excellent book about the benefits and potential pitfalls of pursuing a college education. It follows real students and sheds light on some of the best (and worst) practices of colleges and universities.

Colleges That Change Lives by Loren Pope

Revised 2014- Colleges That Change Lives began as a college educational guide first published in 1996. Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL) was founded in 1998 as a nonprofit based on Pope's book. The book offers an in-depth look at 40 colleges. You might find yourself a gem, and you will learn a great deal about what kinds of experiences and resources excellent colleges offer.

The Gatekeepers by Jacques Steinberg

2002- I consider this the original, modern inside look at a selective college’s admission process. I am completely biased because the subject of the book is Wesleyan University, my alma mater. I am also biased because I love reading about college admissions, but I would say that this book reads similarly to a novel and effectively humanizes college admission officers, who are so often perceived to be “The Gatekeepers” of American higher education.

College Admission Essentials by Ethan Sawyer

2020- This is a step-by-step guide to representing yourself in a positive way through your college applications. It is full of advice from counselors, admission deans, and students (easy to read and reassuring).