Test Prep

Summertime And The Reading Is Easy

Summer begins in less than a week. How will you spend it, now that the rigors of high school have abated for yet another year?

Maybe you're between college years. At any rate, some free time should be at hand.


Are you working a job? Interning? Traveling? Or, are you just hanging out, not really sure what to do with all these "free" days?

May I make a suggestion? Read! Yes, put down that phone and pick up a book!

 

If you're completely addicted to screen gazing, then you can still lock your eyes onto a digital platform while ingesting words into your brains. Try a Kindle or similar electronic reader.

Okay, so you have agreed not to waste your time keeping up with the Kardashians. You have purposed to entertain yourself with words rather than worldly weirdos (sorry, Kim K. fans).

Next question: What to read? How about some expert help, especially if you are a highschooler prepping for college and its associated test prep and essay challenges?

You may be wondering what reading has to do with test prep. Well, have you ever heard of a little thing called vocabulary? When asked how to improve one's vocabulary, many experts respond with three simple words: read, read, read.

Exposing your self to words that you have never before encountered is stimulating. Keeping a dictionary (yes, the kind that has paper pages and a front and back cover) at hand is the best way to deal with words you've never seen before. Sure, you can look them up on the Web, but an actual bound, paper-pages dictionary can turn into a friend for life. They're cheap and ubiquitous. (Okay, there's your first dictionary-challenge word.

 

So, what do experts have to say about summer reading? Brennan Barnard, director of college counseling at the Derryfield School in Manchester, N.H., has put forth some unusual, and therefore interesting, suggestions for summer reading. Let's take a look at a few.

... If you are like me, the pile of unread books has once again reached a tipping point, and the titles and subjects are broad and deep. Every year at this time I like to take this opportunity to suggest a few books for graduating seniors who will be starting the next chapter of their educational lives.  The theme of my book list is mindfulness; in a world where we are increasingly distracted — we run from one commitment to another, often connected to a device but not ourselves or each other — it is important to pause and be aware of the experience of living.  But if mindfulness doesn’t interest you, there is, too, a longer list of fiction and nonfiction books recommended by college admissions counselors and deans from around the country. Enjoy!

Here are a few titles that I am recommending for our soon-to-be alumni:

10% Happier” by Dan Harris

Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There” by Sylvia Boorstein

Mindfulness for the Next Generation: Helping Emerging Adults Manage Stress and Lead Healthier Lives” by Holly Rogers and Margaret Maytan

Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence” by Daniel Goleman

Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation In Everyday Life” by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World” by Mark Williams and Danny Penman

How about a sampling of some other expert opinions?

 

Recommended by: Tiffany Scott, director of college guidance, Church Farm School, Pa.

... “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain

Recommended by: Paul E. Sunde, director of admissions, Dartmouth College, N.H.

How to Raise an Adult: Break free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success” by Julie Lythcott-Haims

Recommended by: Lauren Cook, dean of college and gap-year advising, Jewish Community High School of the Bay, Calif.

College: What It Was, Is, And Should Be” by Andrew Delbanco

Recommended by: Catherine McDonald Davenport, dean of admissions, Dickinson College, Pa.

A Perfect Mess: The Unlikely Ascendancy of American Higher Education” by David Labaree

Recommended by: Aaron Fulk, director of college counseling, Marin Academy, Calif.

College of the Overwhelmed” by Richard Kadison and Theresa DiGeronimo

Recommended by: Beth Ann Burkmar, director of college counseling, George School, Pa.

 

Hold Fast to Dreams: A College Guidance Counselor, His Students, and the Vision of a Life Beyond Poverty”  by Beth Zasloff and Joshua Steckel

Recommended by: Mimi Csatlos, director of college counseling, Virginia Episcopal School, Va.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” by Jon Ronson

Recommended by: Elizabeth W. Almeter, college counselor, Calvert Hall College High School, Md.

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk” by Ben Montgomery

Recommended by: Rick Clark, director of undergraduate admission, Georgia Tech, Ga.

Conflict Without Casualties: A Field Guide for Leading with Compassionate Accountability” by Nate Regier

Recommended by: Joe Freeman, director of college counseling, Beacon Academy, Ill.

The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett

Recommended by: Tracy Stockard, director of college counseling, Gilmour Academy, Ohio.

The Secret Lives of the Four Wives” by Lola Shoneyin

Recommended by:  Chemeli Kipkorir, director of university guidance, African Leadership Academy, South Africa

The Other Wes Moore” by Wes Moore

Recommended by: Matt Cohen, senior associate director of admissions, Skidmore College, N.Y.

Exit West” by Mohsin Hamid ...

Above, I said that reading improves one's vocabulary. Well, in doing some research about this, I found out that some folks believe that it can do more than that. For example: Reading improves vocabulary, GPA, overall life experience ...

... As it turns out, there’s some pretty nice perks to cracking open a book.

According to Dr. Ken Pugh, Ph.D, president and director of research of Haskins Laboratories, reading improves your memory. 

We all can be a little scatter brained. Sometimes our lives get hectic and we forget things. Reading a few pages may help you remember where you last put your car keys. It might even help you figure out where that homework assignment you’ve misplaced is. 

There have been countless studies that show that reading is a great way to improve analytical thinking. I especially was thrilled about this because maybe now I finally will be able to finish a Rubik’s Cube. Now, the next time a math genius wants to play Sudoku with me, I can say “Challenge accepted” with confidence. 

It’s also a great way to enhance your vocabulary. 

I don’t know about you, but I like to sound smart. I love for people to think that I know what I’m talking about even though I have no clue. Next time you get in an argument with your parents, they’ll probably be so impressed with your new word skills, they’ll reward you for all your hard work. 

 It also makes you a better writer. For journalism majors like me, this is a huge plus. You could be the next New York Times bestselling author. 

Reading is a fantastic way to reduce stress. 

I love punching things as much as the next person, but maybe a less violent approach to handle my anxiety would be better. Try reading a good fiction book next time you need to relax. 

You want a higher IQ? Try reading a book. Reading increases your intelligence. 

Studies show that people who read have a broader general knowledge of things than someone who doesn’t. It’s an excellent way to help boost your GPA. ...

So, what are you waiting for? The next Big Bang Theory rerun?

Pick. Up. A. Book. Today!

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Be sure to check out all my articles on College Confidential.