Fiske Guide to Getting into the Right College, 3E

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Find the college that's right for you!

An A—Z of admissions secrets, The Fiske Guide to Getting into the Right College takes you behind the scenes of the college application process. The expert advice and tips in this book will help you get accepted at the schools of your choice. This clear, accessible ...

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Overview

Find the college that's right for you!

An A—Z of admissions secrets, The Fiske Guide to Getting into the Right College takes you behind the scenes of the college application process. The expert advice and tips in this book will help you get accepted at the schools of your choice. This clear, accessible guide takes students and their parents step-by-step through the admissions process.

Learn:
--How to choose the right college
--How to get off a waiting list and get accepted
--How to write winning essays
--How to use the Internet in the application process
--How admissions officers really rank applicants
--How to interview successfully
--How to construct a successful application
--How to get the most financial aid
--And much more!

This is the best resource for helping students get into the schools of their choice.

Edward B. Fiske served for 17 years as Education Editor of The New York Times, during which time he realized that college-bound students and their families needed better information on which to base their educational choices. He wrote the bestselling annual, The Fiske Guide to Colleges, to help them.

Bruce G. Hammond was editor in chief of The Insider's Guide to the Colleges and was managing editor of four editions of The Fiske Guide to Colleges. He is the author of Discounts and Deals at the Nation's 360 Best Colleges and is the school and college expert at Parent Soup, a division of iVillage.com.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
You don't have to go broke to go to college. Whether you're a parent or a student, Fiske's invaluable book will give you the information you need, from finding the right college to applying for financial aid.
Booknews
Fiske was education editor for for 17 years; Hammond has edited several guides to colleges. Their guide for college-bound students<-->and their families<-->is intended to demystify the processes of identifying the right college, getting accepted, and paying for higher education. In addition to general information describing these processes, the text includes a 60-plus page list of colleges grouped according to type( e.g. elite, best bargains, best-kept secrets, top conservative, top nonconformist). Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402209161
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/28/2007
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward B. Fiske served for 17 years as Education Editor of the New York Times, during which time he realized that college-bound students and their families needed better information on which to base their educational choices. He wrote the bestselling annual, The Fiske Guide to Colleges, to help them.

Bruce G. Hammond was editor in chief of The Insider's Guide to the Colleges and was managing editor of four editions of The Fiske Guide to Colleges. He is the author of Discounts and Deals at the Nation's 360 Best Colleges and is the school and college expert at Parent Soup, a division of iVillage.com.

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Read an Excerpt

From Part One
The Search Begins
(or, What to Do When You Don't Have a Clue)

The college advising office in your high school can be a pretty intimidating place, especially on your first visit. An eerie silence pervades the room. As you cross the threshold and survey the scene, your eye catches the twelfth-grade boy who used to flick spitballs into your hair from the back of the bus when you were in middle school. He's still wearing the same flea-bitten Metallica T-shirt, but now his nose is buried in a college guide as he scribbles feverishly in a spiral notebook. On the other side of the room, the girl from down the street with the doting mother and the 4.0 grade point average is staring purposefully into a computer screen, clacking the keyboard every few seconds as she calls up a new file. Suddenly, you get a sinking feeling that she and all the other kids in the room know exactly what they're doing. You're the only one who doesn't have a clue. Of course, you could always ask Mrs. Stonebreaker for help. That is, if you don't mind the familiar glasses-on-the-end-of-the-nose routine and the icy stare that says you've just asked the stupidest question of her thirty-four-year career. You want to beat a hasty retreat and come back later-much later.

It's no wonder that beginning college applicants often get the strong urge to run away and hide. Talk about an intimidating situation! Many students have barely gotten comfortable in high school before the college search looms ominously on the horizon. Rumblings about "selective colleges" and "the job market" begin to pop up in dinner conversations and guidance office bulletin boards. Friends who used to be party animals suddenly begin to hit the books and talk about "getting the grades for college." Relatives you haven't seen in years marvel about how much you've grown-and then want to know all about your career plans.

As if those storm clouds weren't threatening enough, there is the little matter of finding one college out of about twenty-two hundred four-year schools in the nation. They come in more flavors than Baskin-Robbins or Ben and Jerry ever dreamed of making-large, small, middle-sized, rural, urban, and a thousand permutations. If colleges were ice cream, a student could sample four or five flavors and make a choice. Unfortunately, college applicants must get it right the first time or go through the same agony again when they transfer. How can you figure out what sort of college is right for you?

One place you won't find the answer is your mailbox, which, if you have checked a certain oval on your PSAT exam, has become a direct pipeline to the propaganda factories of colleges coast to coast. Though the deluge of college mail can be highly entertaining, every school from Harvard to Ho Hum U. advertises a similar bill of goods. If you were confused before, try figuring out the difference between two colleges by reading the glossy viewbooks. The scenes in their pages are always the same: eager hordes of racially diverse undergraduates thinking deep thoughts or frolicking in a perpetual spring against a backdrop of white columns and grassy lawns. Let's see now...College X offers "academic excellence" and "rich diversity." On the other hand, College Y offers "rich diversity" and "academic excellence." Still can't tell the difference?

Meanwhile, all the adults in your life (and a few you've never seen before) offer their two cents about where you should go to school. From your grandfather, you get the latest updates on colleges and the job market from U.S. News & World Report. Mom says that you can choose any school you want-as long as you stay within fifty miles of home. Even your great uncle Pete, whom you barely know, takes you under his wing and says he has the perfect college for you based on his wonderful experience in the early 1950s.

If you're confused by conflicting advice, if you're put off by college propaganda, if you're eager to get started but don't know where to begin, this book is your ticket to a successful college search. We'll take you on a guided tour of the entire process: how to find the right college for you, how to get in, and how to pay for it. Along the way, we'll help you focus your thoughts and figure out what you're really looking for. We'll tell you how to cut through the college search nonsense and then give you insider sketches of hundreds of colleges in dozens of categories. We'll reveal the secrets of the highly selective admissions game and how you can play it to win. And finally, we'll delve into the shadowy world of college financial aid-how to get your hands on it and how your need for it may affect your chances for admission.

Before we begin plotting strategy, let's step back for a minute and remind ourselves of what the college search is all about. Amid all the anxiety about getting in, it helps to keep the big picture in mind.

Why College?
That may seem like a stupid question, but there is more to the answer than meets the eye. Practicality says that people go to college to get a good job after graduation and there is plenty of research to show that college is a sound economic investment. On average, college graduates can expect to earn more than twice as much as those with a high school diploma over a working lifetime and the gap is widening.

There are two schools of thought about how to get the most out of your college experience. Many educators stress the value of exposure to a broad spectrum of human knowledge. The phrase "liberal arts education" connotes learning that "liberates" the mind to think new thoughts. A liberal arts education is an introduction to the great events and ideas of the past, as well as the most recent discoveries of today. It can include history, art, astronomy, zoology, and everything in between. It doesn't prepare you for any particular job, but instead equips you with the basic skills-reading, writing, thinking-to meet any challenge that comes down the pike. In other words, it means "learning to learn."

The alternative to a liberal arts education is to use college to prepare for a particular career. This approach places less emphasis on a well-rounded general education than the acquisition of knowledge related to a particular job or subset of jobs. Some careers, such as engineering and architecture, require concentrated training beginning in the freshman year that leaves little time for smelling the roses. Facing the uncertainties of the job market, nervous undergraduates often feel strong pressure to "major in something practical."

In addition to its economic function, college attendance also provides a high school graduate with the first public measure of his or her academic and personal success. Admission to a "name" college is like getting an A in growing up and comes with the presumption of future success to follow. The ego of anyone-especially a seventeen-year-old-is fragile. Who wouldn't want a stamp of approval from one of the world's most respected and recognized institutions?

With all the practical reasons to attend, let us not forget that college is also a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You can test your limits, try new things, and make some incredibly stupid mistakes-all without the responsibility of having to make a living. The friendships you form will last a lifetime and so, too, will the memories. Decades from now, when you're rocking away the retirement years on the front porch, college will probably rank high on the list of things that made life worth living.

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Table of Contents

Part One: Finding the Right College
1. The Search Begins (or, What to Do When You Don't Have a Clue)
2. Sizing Yourself Up
3. The College Universe
4. Getting a Jump Start
5. Cutting through the Propaganda
6. The One-Hour College Finder
7. Where to Learn More

Part Two: Getting In
8. Inside the Admissions Process
9. Shaping Your Record
10. How Important Are Standardized Tests?
11. How to Prepare for Standardized Tests
12. The Early Decision Dilemma
13. How to Size Up a Campus
14. Surviving the Interview
15. Getting Good Recommendations
16. Filing Your Applications
17. Scoring Points with the Essay

Part Three: Paying the Bill
18. The New Financial Aid Game
19. Dave's World: A Financial Aid Timeline

Part Four: A Time to Reflect
20. Fat Letters and Thin
21. Some Thoughts for Parents

Appendix I: What to Do When
Appendix II: Glossary
Acknowledgments
One-Hour College Finder Index
General Index
About the Authors

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Interviews & Essays

Exclusive Author Essay
There are more stressful things in the life of a high school student than applying to college -- like hearing your name on the school intercom, followed by the words, "Please report to the main office." Or the awkward silence of a phone line when you're trying to summon the courage to ask, "Are you busy Saturday night?"

Fortunately, the reality of college admissions is a lot less scary than the hype. What's the worst that could happen? My vote for the all-time biggest disaster goes to a supremely stressed-out applicant to Franklin and Marshall College. She was struggling through her interview, legs crossed, foot fidgeting uncontrollably -- until her clog flew off, broke a desk lamp, and hit her interviewer squarely in the face. (Yes, it really happened.) But instead of a ticket to the reject pile, she got a laugh from the admissions officer and a pat on the back.

If this young lass couldn't screw up her application, neither can you. So relax. All work and no play makes Jack (or Jill) a dull superachiever. Just ask the whiz kids at MIT. Some years ago they dressed up the dome of the main academic building as a giant breast; on another occasion they unscrewed and turned around all the built-in chairs in a 500-seat lecture hall.

Not to be outdone, the rabble-rousers at archrival Cal Tech spent several months devising a radio that gave them remote control of the scoreboard during the nearby Rose Bowl football game. At a crucial moment, the score between Illinois and UCLA suddenly morphed into Cal Tech trouncing MIT -- all captured on national television.

Can't decide where to go? Why not pick the school with the most creative mascot. This could lead you to Evergreen State, whose symbol is the Gooeyduck, a large clam found in nearby Puget Sound. Got California on your mind? Choose UC/Santa Cruz and be a Banana Slug. Or how about environmentally minded Marlboro College in Vermont, where team shirts are emblazoned with Fighting Dead Trees. Haverford College, a Quaker institution, recently settled on the Black Squirrels as the nickname for its teams -- but only after deciding that neither Aardvarks nor Fighting Quakers had quite the right ring to it.

Another tie-breaker might be college cheers. The University of Chicago takes the cake in this category with: "Themosticles, Thucydides/The Peloponnesian Wars/ X-squared, Y-squared, H2SO4/Who for, what for/Who the hell are we cheering for?/Go maroons." Yep, those U of C kids know how to inspire their warriors.

College applications offer their fair share of comic relief. Just ask the applicant to Bates College who wrote his essay about the many experiences of his life and how he had "eradicated meaning from all of them." Another confided that the last book he had read was Uncle Tom's Cabin by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. (So much for that A in 11th-grade American Lit.)

And so, dear applicant, my parting advice: Don't let them see you sweat. Otherwise, you risk ending up like the hapless applicant to Haverford College who developed a bad case of post-interview stress syndrome. As he left his interview room, he was still very nervous -- so nervous that he opened one more door after arriving back at the waiting room and walked into a closet. He didn't come out for several minutes. I don't think I would have, either.

Happy College Hunting! (Ted Fiske)

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  • Posted March 9, 2009

    A Must Read for College Applicants and Their Parents

    There are oodles of books on getting into college. A friend recommended this one and she and I agree, it's the best.

    Title really should be "Getting into the right college for YOU," which is, after all, the point of college applications.

    It's easy to use and not pedantic. It's the only college search book you'll need.

    Not Related to the authors either!

    Mom of a High School Junior-Without-A-Clue

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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