An alternative approach to college admissions, focused more on self-knowledge than tests, essays, and recommendations.


Admissions by Design


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.

Pub Date: March 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943425-08-2

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Elevate

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2016

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Rhimes said “yes” to sharing her insights. Following her may not land you on the cover of a magazine, but you’ll be glad you...



The queen of Thursday night TV delivers a sincere and inspiring account of saying yes to life.

Rhimes, the brain behind hits like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, is an introvert. She describes herself as a young girl, playing alone in the pantry, making up soap-opera script stories to act out with the canned goods. Speaking in public terrified her; going to events exhausted her. She was always busy, and she didn’t have enough time for her daughters. One Thanksgiving changed it all: when her sister observed that she never said “yes” to anything, Rhimes took it as a challenge. She started, among other things, accepting invitations, facing unpleasant conversations, and playing with her children whenever they asked. The result was a year of challenges and self-discovery that led to a fundamental shift in how she lives her life. Rhimes tells us all about it in the speedy, smart style of her much-loved TV shows. She’s warm, eminently relatable, and funny. We get an idea of what it’s like to be a successful TV writer and producer, to be the ruler of Shondaland, but the focus is squarely on the lessons one can learn from saying yes rather than shying away. Saying no was easy, Rhimes writes. It was comfortable, “a way to disappear.” But after her year, no matter how tempting it is, “I can no longer allow myself to say no. No is no longer in my vocabulary.” The book is a fast read—readers could finish it in the time it takes to watch a full lineup of her Thursday night programing—but it’s not insubstantial. Like a cashmere shawl you pack just in case, Year of Yes is well worth the purse space, and it would make an equally great gift.

Rhimes said “yes” to sharing her insights. Following her may not land you on the cover of a magazine, but you’ll be glad you did. 

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4767-7709-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2015

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.


A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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