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College Prep Tips: The Benefits of Outside Reading

Thu, Mar 24, 2016 @ 11:41 AM

Outside Reading College PrepStart Your College Prep By Picking Up Your Outside Reading


By Catherine DiMarzo, IvyWise Client Relations Manager

Families often ask what their students can be doing to demonstrate their intellectual horsepower outside of the classroom. One of the first things that our counselors recommend is outside reading. Specifically, reading that is not assigned for homework or as part of a class. There are many books, blogs, and online journals that high school students can read that will help them explore and become experts in their areas of interest.

Colleges and universities admire students who take it upon themselves and look for more reading in subjects they’re interested in. Down the road, students can use what they learned through outside reading in their application essays or talk about these subjects in their college interviews. For example, some colleges will ask what students read outside of class on their applications, like Columbia University. Other schools, such as the University of Virginia and Boston College, ask students to reflect and comment on a work of literature as one of their supplement prompts.

It’s very easy to get started on some outside reading. For example, maybe you are a student who is interested in economics and public policy. These are two topics that aren’t usually “required” courses in a high school curriculum, but there are many books on these subjects. Go to your local bookstore or Amazon to find books related to economics and public policy, such as Freakonomics or Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making. You can also subscribe to The Economist or try to read some of The Wall Street Journal every day.

Outside reading is something that students can do on their own time. Going on a six-hour plane ride to Seattle and you’re interested in computer science? Pick up a copy of Dream in Code. Don’t know what to watch on Netflix? Spend some time reading up on current events concerning politics and the economy on the Angry Bear blog. But remember – don’t pick up a book or read an article just because you feel like you should! The subject should be something that actually interests you. In your case, it’s really reading for pleasure.

As part of their Initial Consultation with IvyWise, students and their families receive a list of suggested outside reading that is tailored to their current interests. This list is meant to be a point of departure for the student, and help them to explore their interests. If you would like more information about Initial Consultations, you can fill out an info request here or email!

Catherine DiMarzo

Written by Catherine DiMarzo

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