A college counselor advises students on a more mindful approach to choosing a college and career.
In this debut, Fisher draws on nearly two decades of work as a counselor to indict the college admissions industry and encourage students to set and achieve goals unhindered by the current system’s constraints. She writes that “not nearly enough students have any ‘particular purpose’ beyond seeking admission when they complete their applications,” so she offers a series of exercises to help them determine their interests, values, and strengths in order to move beyond simply getting into college. The book’s opening chapters explore what she calls the “Culture of Crazy”—an atmosphere of achievement and credentialism designed to secure admission to selective colleges. After encouraging students to understand the nature of the system, Fisher urges them to challenge their assumptions and adapt, offering guidance on shifting one’s “mental models,” employing “design thinking,” and taking a mindful approach to goal-setting. Each chapter includes exercises designed to help readers understand and shape their ideas on life goals, changing interests, and intrinsic motivation, among other topics. Although the book’s intended audience includes high-achieving students and their parents, Fisher asks them to consider that alternative paths, such as community colleges, foreign universities, or unschooling, may be a better fit for them. She reminds readers at several points that her book is not a guide to the mechanics of applying to college, although it does include a list of resources for doing so at the end. Readers looking for a more holistic approach to the question of higher education will find this book a useful tool. However, it’s limited by the fact that although it offers “an inspired way to think about and approach the act of applying,” it can’t change the existing structure in which one submits those applications. Fisher’s writing is clear and coherent, though, and the book’s organization makes it easy for readers to follow all its steps or to focus on the most relevant ones. Its guidance will be useful to those pursuing an unconventional path after high school, but many who are planning a traditional college career may find it valuable as well.
An alternative approach to college admissions, focused more on self-knowledge than tests, essays, and recommendations.