Preparing for College

Poli Sci Background Reading for Yale-Bound Frosh

Question: My kid is preparing for Yale (political science). Where can we find a reading list of books that would provide him with a solid foundation for successfully starting his freshman year?

This is a good question for an actual Yale political science professor rather than for an Internet dean who majored in English. ;-) So here's a contact you can try:

Director of Yale Political Science undergraduate studies: David Cameron, 115 Prospect St., 432-5236,

You and your son can also look through the list of undergrad poli sci classes at Yale and see if there are particular courses that jump off the page. Then your son can contact the professors who teach these courses and ask for recommended background reading. See

Yale does post course syllabi online, but they are only for members of the Yale community and are thus password-protected. If your son has been admitted to Yale via Early Action and has already committed to enroll, it’s possible that he might be able to wangle access. But, instead, I would recommend that you find other political science syllabi online where no password is needed. For instance, MIT’s Open Courseware offers extensive political science classes, and your son can find the reading lists online without registration or a password. See

You can also check out Amazon’s “Balanced Political Science Reading List for Beginners” at

In addition, I’ll post your question on the College Confidential “Ask the Dean” forum and see if other CC members weigh in with suggestions.

Happy hunting!

(posted 12/29/2012)