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The Enlightened College Applicant

A New Approach to the Search and Admissions Process

Andrew Belasco and Dave Bergman

Deluged with messages that range from “It’s Ivy League or bust” to “It doesn’t matter where you go,” college applicants and their families often find themselves lost, adrift in a sea of information overload. Finally—a worthy life preserver has arrived. The Enlightened College Applicant presents a no-nonsense account of how students should approach the college search and admissions process. Instead of providing recycled entrance statistics or anecdotal generalizations about campus life, authors Belasco and Bergman incorporate cutting-edge data and research to pull back the curtain on critical topics such as:
  • Whether college prestige really matters,
  • How to maximize your college admission prospects
  • Which schools and degrees provide the best return on investment
  • How to minimize the costs of a college education
  • What college-related skills are valued in the job market,

and much more. Whether you are a valedictorian or a B/C student, this easy-to-read book will improve your college savvy and enable you to maximize the benefits of your higher education.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 252Size: 6 1/4 x 9 3/8
978-1-4758-2690-6 • Hardback • August 2016 • $30.00 • (£19.95)
978-1-4758-2692-0 • eBook • August 2016 • $28.00 • (£18.95)
Andrew Belasco, PhD, is a higher education researcher, counselor, and CEO of College Transitions, an education consulting firm. His work has been published in the nation’s top higher education journals and featured in dozens of media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Forbes, CBS Money Watch, and NPR, among others.

Dave Bergman, EdD, has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, adjunct professor, and independent education consultant. As co-founder of College Transitions, Dave oversees the collegetransitions.com weekly blog, reaching an audience in the tens of thousands and also writes for news outlets including the Charlotte Observer and phillyburbs.com.
College Reframed: An Introduction
Chapter 1: The Big Picture
Chapter 2: College Reframed: What Really Matters in a College
Chapter 3: Getting In: Admission Mythbusters
Chapter 4: Getting In: Improving Your Odds
Chapter 5: Getting In: Applying
Chapter 6: Planning the Financial End
Chapter 7: College Advice for the Career Minded: So You Want to Be a…
Ten Key Takeaways & Conclusions
Appendix A
About the Authors
Belasco and Bergman, cofounders of education consulting firm College Transitions, have put together a friendly, easy-to-follow guide for approaching the overwhelming topic of higher education. The authors give parents a bird’s-eye perspective of the college admissions landscape, discussing the financial realities of college education along with practical advice for helping children identify colleges that are right for them. Acknowledging that students and parents alike are drawn to big-name schools, they open with the sobering fact that 37,000 students will compete for 2,000 seats in Harvard’s class of 2021. For best results, they advise high school seniors on curriculum choices for their final years of high school and dispel the notion that summer programs carry any weight in acceptance. Nowadays schools tabulate 'demonstrated interest' based on whether prospective students use social media to introduce themselves to their top choices. Parents may have trouble accepting that 'higher education is a buyer’s market,' but the voice of reason in these soon-to-be dog-eared pages will provide comfort and direction for those starting the application process.
Publishers Weekly

Here’s one college guide that does away with trite advice about teaching teens to do laundry, letting go, and navigating their first Thanksgiving back home. Belasco and Bergman, experienced education consultants, address parents of college-bound students in a six-part guide to the search and admissions process....There is a laser-sharp focus on targeting a school and major to maximize return on investment: how to solve seemingly impossible and infinite equations, including variables such as school rankings, class sizes, percentage of full-time faculty, and what you could make back on your money through different majors and study paths. The authors address tangible costs of college, helping readers carve through recruitment language and dive into the realities and (dis)advantages of institutions, from Ivies to in-state schools. Families seeking enlightenment about how to rationally and reasonably advise their teens in the higher-education arms race would do well to seek out this title.

Admissions-counseling consultants share their insights into selecting and getting into an appropriate college in this debut guide, aimed mainly at parents. Many people have a hazy goal of getting their children into the most 'prestigious' college possible. However, it may be a better idea to dig deep into the data to find the college that’s the best fit. Belasco and Bergman, the cofounders of admissions counseling/consulting firm College Transitions, advocate for a 'more holistic and consumer-minded approach to the college selection process.' They believe that parents should spend more time with their children to determine a course of study and then figure out what skills the kids will need to pursue. These 'matter as much or more than where they go,' say the authors, who also urge parents to consider—and hopefully avoid—the long-term consequences of assuming too much debt. Parents and students should explore the many top notch colleges that exist beyond the so-called 'name' schools, they say. To that end, they helpfully provide college lists that assess various ranking factors (such as student/teacher ratio), drawn from the College Board and other sources. The book also discusses other key aspects, such as the difference between early decision and early action, and the importance of college-level courses in high school. Overall, the authors offer both an authoritative overview and calming guidance for anyone who’s struggling—and stressing out—over the college admissions process.... [T]his detailed guide does offer a reasoned and reassuring road map for selecting the best college, both as a concerned parent and as an informed consumer; for example, the authors clearly emphasize that readers face 'more of a buyer’s market than ever before,' with many colleges struggling to meet enrollment goals and therefore open to lowering their 'sticker price.' A de-stressing trove of data that will help readers make more well-rounded college decisions.

With many elite colleges now costing more than $250,000 (!), it’s absolute lunacy for parents and teenagers to explore their college options without first becoming empowered college consumers. An excellent way to start is by reading The Enlightened College Applicant. This is a superb and refreshingly unique book that does a masterful job of equipping families with what they need to successfully navigate the entire college admission process.
Lynn O’Shaughnessy, author of The College Solution (TheCollegeSolution.com) and lead college contributor to CBS Moneywatch

The Enlightened College Applicantis not a college guidebook but rather a personal guide that can assist families and students navigate the sometimes bewildering, often confusing, and seemingly secretive pathways that lead to a college education. This extremely well-written book empowers parents through a grounding philosophy of higher educations purpose and place which then becomes a lens through which to consider both questions and decisions about college. By the authors own admission, it is a researched-based, stats-laden, big picture argument for how parents should approach the college process. However, the book reads more as a thoughtful conversation around the dining room table than as a lecture. Peppered with stories or literary references that unlock the meaning of institutional rankings and help explain the importance of flexibility, it is perfectly pitched for the intended readers. And, while parents are the authors audience, it is a must read for anyone working with GEAR UP, Upward Bound, Student Support Services, National College Advising Corps, or any other college access organization. A much needed addition to the body of work focused on improving educational attainment in America.
Joni Webb Petschauer, Senior Fellow for the American College Application Campaign, American Council on Education