Book Review: It’s the Student Not the College

There is a wealth of literature available to help parents cope with the transition to college and the changes that occur throughout the college years and beyond.  We’ve offered some lists of recommended reading, and there is something for everyone. Check out our Resources and Tools page for suggestions.

From time to time, we like to review some of the books available for parents of college students.

In this review, we’ll take a look at It’s the Student, Not the College: The Secrets of Succeeding at Any School Without Going Broke or Crazy by Kristin M. White.

It’s the Student Not the College should be on every parent’s reading list — and probably on their student’s list as well.  It is important reading for college parents, but even more important reading for high school parents whose students are still in the midst of the admission process.  We agree wholeheartedly with the premise of the book.  According to the author, ”the message at the heart of this book (is) that success is within a person’s own power and will not be determined by the college (a student) attends.”

It’s the Student Not the College is divided into three sections.  Section 1, ”The Truth About College, Selectivity, and Success” debunks the notion that Ivy League schools produce students who achieve great things.  White shares information and data to support her theory that ”elite colleges collect successful people, they don’t make them.”  According to White, ”students who are accepted to Ivies already have what it takes to achieve great things” so it is up to the student to have the motivation and ambition to build his success.

One of the strengths of White’s book is that she not only suggests that students need to control their own success, she uses Part 2 of her book, ”The Success Profile — What It Is, and How to Develop It” to help parents and students understand exactly how to develop the student’s success profile.  She suggests that this will take time and effort, but reminds us that the time and effort expended may pay off in the long run more than the time, effort, and money currently invested in SAT prep.

Since, according to White, it is up to the student to create his/her own success and not the college, and since students may not need to aim only for elite colleges, she uses Part 3 of her book to discuss ”What You Should Consider When Choosing a School.”

This book is important reading for parents and students.  By debunking the elite college myth, Kristin White empowers students to develop the means to their own success rather than assume that success will be given to them if they are very lucky and are admitted to a small set of schools.  White suggests that it is ”clearly time for an overhaul of the way we think about college” and that it is ”time for students to stop trying to craft themselves into what they think the colleges want them to be, and start looking inward . . .”

White queries, ”What if we change the norm and have kids prepare themselves for the real world instead of for college admissions?”  We couldn’t agree more.

About the author:

Kristin White is an educational consultant who helps students navigate the admissions process. She owns an educational consulting firm in Darien, Connecticut, and works with students from all over the world.  Kristin is a member of the New England Association for College Admissions Counseling and the Independent Educational Consultants Association.  She is a graduate of Georgetown University and has an MBA from the University of Texas-Austin. Kristin is also the author of The Complete Guide to the Gap Year: The Best Things to Do Between High School and College.

What the author has to say about the book: 

”What I hope to convince you is that we have made a mistake by attributing Ivy League graduates’ success to their colleges.  In fact, elite universities do not make their students succeed; rather, they identify (and admit) applicants who will go on to be successful. . . A student’s motivation, academic profile, and ambition are really what matter; the name on his diploma means very little.  You don’t have to take my word for it: data backs me up.”

”Part Two will explore those practices and lay out a plan that students can personalize to develop what I call the Success Profile’ — the mindset, focus, study habits, achievements, grit and personal relationships that lead to academic, leadership, employment, and personal fulfillment in the future.”

”I hope you’ll find it reassuring to know that a student can develop himself to improve his future prospects, and that his likelihood of success isn’t correlated to beating the odds’ and getting into an elite college.  This book explains exactly how students can prepare themselves for future success — and why following this plan is better than focusing on getting in.’”

What others have to say about the book:

”Kristin White reframes the college admissions process, challenging students to look inward and develop a personal profile for success.  She instructs students and families to look for schools that are academic and economic fits — which also offer opportunities for students to build their own elite experience.  An essential new resource!”

Larry Alterman, Admissions Counselor, Michigan State University

”Challenges the elite college mystique’ and suggests ways of developing a success profile’ in high school that can be maintained and enhanced in college.”

                         The Chronicle of Higher Education

”The book dispels the notion that you need to attend an elite school to be successful and supplies a roadmap on how to distinguish yourself no matter what school you attend. Her book helps families sort through their decisions with confidence and logic.”

                          The Daily Voice

”Any parent or young person thinking about college should read this book! White has a very good understanding of the evolving job market, and the relation between college attendance and employment success.”

                        Michael Bernick, former Director, State of California labor department, and Milken Institute Fellow

Note: Some links in our post are for affiliate products. If you use our links, College Parent Central receives a small percentage of your purchase price. This does not change the cost to you.  We think it’s only fair to let you know that.

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