These guides are designed to help college-bound students successfully prepare themselves before they enter the world of higher education. While both books cover similar issues, their structure, scope, and coverage differ greatly. Burtnett (Parent's Guide to the College Admission Process) focuses mainly on the admission process, offering checklists, outlines, and user-friendly qualitative exercises to help students get organized, meet deadlines, and determine which colleges fit their individual objectives. The table of contents separates out student exercises within each chapter, allowing readers to refer quickly to topics most applicable to them. There are FAQs at the end of each chapter with answers from experienced school counselors. Burtnett's concise and objective writing structure provides a realistic insight into what students can expect. This essential guide is highly recommended for all college-bound students and their parents.
The guide by Michael McGrath (Decide Better! For a Better Life), who's billed as "a world expert on decision making," and coauthor Christopher McGrath has a much broader scope, covering not only the transition to college but also the issues students face once they matriculate. As a result, the book is not as focused or objective as Burtnett's. In addition, the philosophy is quite different; the authors encourage readers to use a chesslike strategy when making rational decisions, in contrast to Burtnett's self-assessment approach. They also incorporate a lot of introductory buildup before the practical advice, and the quantitative graph exercises are more time-consuming. The book does provide useful outlines, pro and con lists, andexplanations of some relevant topics, such as subsidized vs. unsubsidized loans, that are not mentioned by Burtnett. Nevertheless, this title is recommended only for self-help completists.