great books to read in 2024

Great Books to Read in 2024

Families ask me to recommend books on higher education and the college admissions process in each admissions cycle. Here are a few new releases I look forward to reading this year:


Beyond the GPA: How to Give Your Student an Edge with College Admissions by Susie Watts. The book is a thorough yet accessible guide to the college admissions process, offering easy-to-understand and follow instructions complemented by practical checklists to keep students organized. Watts simplifies the often overwhelming task of college admissions, providing valuable tips and strategies.


Erasing the Finish Line: The New Blueprint for Success Beyond Grades and College Admissions by Ana Homayoun. Homayoun, an expert in academic advising and early career development, challenges the conventional notion that grades, test scores, and college acceptance are the sole indicators of success. The book addresses the high levels of anxiety and unpreparedness among students resulting from an overemphasis on these traditional achievements. She proposes a new education paradigm focusing on essential skills for adapting and thriving in a dynamic world, such as developing executive functioning skills, building social capital, and maintaining adaptability.


Never Enough: When Achievement Culture Becomes Toxic-and What We Can Do About It by Jennifer Wallace. Wallace’s book offers a thoughtful perspective on how parents can support their children’s growth without excessive pressure. Based on over 200 interviews with parents and children nationwide, she examines the reasons behind parental pressure for academic and extracurricular excellence, its impact on kids, and alternative, less stressful support methods.


The Abundant University: Remaking Higher Education for a Digital World by Michael D. Smith. Smith critiques the current higher education system which he describes as defined by a “scarcity” mindset that contributes to social injustice and global socioeconomic stratification. He advocates for embracing digital technologies, arguing that technology can expand educational opportunities, benefiting students, employers, and society. He also acknowledges the resistance rooted in the self-preservation of traditional residential education systems.


Immeasurable Outcomes: Teaching Shakespeare In The Age Of The Algorithm by Gayle Greene. Greene, professor emeritus at Scripps College, offers a highly personal and engaging narrative that celebrates the transformative impact of liberal arts education on students’ lives, enhancing their self-awareness and worldview. She juxtaposes this with a critique of the current trend in higher education, where technocrats, careerists, and bureaucrats are increasingly focused on quantifiable outcomes, overshadowing the broader educational values.


Short Changed: How Advanced Placement Cheats Students by Annie Abrams.The book delves into the historical, political, and educational roots of the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) program, critiquing how these courses and their associated tests undermine a true liberal education. It highlights issues such as the disconnection between students and teachers, the reduction of curriculum to predefined content, and the reliance on formulaic evaluations. Beyond critiquing AP courses, Abrams’ work explores the potential and ideals of humanities instruction, offering insights into what it should and could be.