There are numerous sources of information that relate to stress in the college preparation and application process. On the assumption that most of you have limited time for reading at length about this, here are the three books I consider to be the best available.

Harvard Schmarvard, by Jay Mathews. This is a fantastic introduction to college admission if you’re looking for a thorough, well-written guide on how to approach things with significantly less stress. Mr. Mathews has been writing about education for the Washington Post for decades and has been a strong advocate for students through his columns, his interestingly different annual ranking of high schools, and through this book and others he’s written on education. In Harvard Schmarvard, he pioneered the art of showing folks through various means why extensive worry about the specific college one attends is unnecessary, and his work still resonates today.

The Truth About College Admission, by Brennan Barnard and Rick Clark. Another wonderful introduction to the process of choosing a college, written by a high school counselor and a college admission counselor who each have 20+ years in their respective fields. Mr. Barnard writes regularly about college admission for various periodicals, including the New York TImes, Forbes, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, etc. His other contributions are too numerous to mention here, but here’s a link to his website in case you’re interested:

When you’ve finished one of these first two books, don’t miss…..

Where You Go is not Who You’ll Be, by Frank Bruni. This is an easy and entertaining read by a New York Times reporter that makes the same case the other authors and I have, but does it more through anecdotes: lots and lots of powerful anecdotes about and interviews with public figures who talk about how they arrived at a high level of achievement in their field after having studied at a college not among the most selective. This book will give you great insight into the many ways less selective schools can lead exceptional students to success.