Book By: Joie Jager-Hyman
Review By: Ted Lind
University of Michigan-Flint
Hind sight is always 20/20 and that was definitely my thought when reading this book. The information presented by Dr. Jager-Hyman covers the total process of searching and applying for your perfect school. I thought about the many things I wish I had known during my own collegiate search. She provides insight to searching for colleges, essay tips, interviewing skills as well as navigating the financial aid process and more based on her experience in many years as an admissions administrator. There is some carryover, but this book is really meant for students applying to college, not higher education administrators.
One reoccurring theme throughout is the importance of “fit.” I see this as the main takeaway for academic advisors with our role as teacher, coach and mentor for students once admitted. We may not be able to change the fact that our school is not the perfect fit for each and every student we advise, but by understanding more about how students get to us we can help students thrive. This is especially important for those working with first-year and undecided students in helping them find a major or academic program that supports their goals; one that fits.
Dr. Jager-Hyman begins the book by defining six paths that many students take in their college search (p. 5-16). Students can fit fully into one of these categories or embody aspects from several, but this is an area with good overlap. Students choose a college major for a variety of reasons – sometimes for employment means only, other times due to a passion for something they love or because it is what their parents want. Understanding the motivation for why a student chooses a particular academic program can help us coach them appropriately to guide and focus academic plans.
In the chapter on paying for college (p. 165-186), Dr. Jager-Hyman presents a comprehensive breakdown on applying for state and federal aid, identifying viable scholarships opportunities and understanding what a financial aid award letter really means. For many students the cost of education is becoming more important, and can play a big factor in degree completion and retention. Although financial aid professionals help students with this, many times students do not seek their help until it is too late. As advisors we can be the first line of defense in helping students think about how they will fund their education and refer them appropriately to our financial aid colleagues. I am not suggesting that academic advisors should supersede established processes with the financial aid office, but advisors many times have the most regular contact with a student and can help identify problems.
She concludes with a section for parents (p. 187-199) as well as an Appendix (p. 200-210) which lays out a recommended timeline for every aspect of the collegiate search beginning with the junior year of high school. Understanding these sections could be invaluable for the search process and the parents of college bound students and perhaps help advisors coach their “helicopter parents.”
This book is mostly appropriate for the motivated high school junior (or parent) with questions about how college admissions works or wants an in depth strategy for getting into a “reach” school with a less than perfect academic record. As advisors it is important that we understand this process, but I would not make this one of my top resources as a higher education professional.
B+ Grades, A+ College Application. (2013) Book By: Joie Jager-Hyman. Review By: Ted Lind. Emeryville, CA: Ten Speed Press (randomhouse). 256 pp. $14.99. ISBN #978-1-60774-341-5