Summer is just around the corner, which hopefully means stolen moments diving into reading for the pure fun of it. Summer reading also provides an opportunity for you to increase your odds in the college admissions game. Colleges care what you read this summer so here are a few reasons WHY summer reading can impact college admissions:
1.) Read the classics and contemporary works for a richer vocabulary.
2.) Explore college reading lists at your targeted schools. Be prepared and shine as a scholar on Day 1.
3.) Pursue scholarly summer reading programs and opportunities to deepen your academic niche.
Though finding time may be a factor, you’ll never be able to read “too much” as there is an endless variety of material available. Don’t let the confines of your school year, school library or local library limit your options. With the bevy of electronics available today, you no longer have to wait to get your hands on a book –it’s all a click away.
From classics to contemporary, hard-cover to e-book, the list is endless. We especially urge you to dive into 19th century literature by authors such as Jane Austen, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Dickens or Mark Twain as you’ll find the vocabulary much richer. Why? For one, our students who read books by these authors see a rise in their critical reading scores and improve their own writing.
Read the Classics AND Contemporary Works
A small sampling of Classics to consider:
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- Jane Eyre –Charlotte Bronte
- Les Miserables –Victor Hugo
- The Color Purple –Alice Walker
- The Picture of Dorian Gray –Oscar Wilde
- The Jungle –Upton Sinclair
- The Red Badge of Courage -Stephen Crane
- The Scarlet Letter -Nathaniel Hawthorne
- The Things They Carried -Tim O’Brien
- Wuthering Heights -Emily Bronte
If you’ve read most of the titles above look further to these Classics:
- A Farewell to Arms -Ernest Hemingway
- Animal Farm -George Orwell
- Anna Karenina -Leo Tolstoy
- As I Lay Dying -William Faulkner
- Crime and Punishment -Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Fahrenheit 451 -Ray Bradbury
- The Awakening -Kate Chopin
- The Bell Jar -Sylvia Plath
- The Call of the Wild -Jack London
- War and Peace -Leo Tolstoy
Or fall in love with these Contemporary novels:
- A Raisin in the Sun -Lorraine Hansberry
- Atonement -Ian McEwan
- Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth -Richard Wright
- House of Sand and Fog -Andre Dubus III
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings -Maya Angelou
- On Beauty -Zadie Smith
- The Alchemist -Paulo Coelho
- The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel -Garth Stein
- The Bean Trees -Barbara Kingsolver
- The Bluest Eye -Toni Morrison
- The Book Thief -Markus Zusak
- The Glass Castle -Jeannette Walls
- The House on Mango Street -Sandra Cisneros
- The Road -Cormac McCarthy
- Twelve Years a Slave -Solomon Northup
Explore College Reading Lists at Your Targeted Schools
A wide variety of colleges and universities publish summer reading lists. We see many pop up on websites in the early weeks of June (therefore some of the following lists are from last summer). There is a reason WHY colleges and universities publish these lists. Oftentimes a novel is mandatory so the class is able to jump right in once classes begin not to mention colleges and universities simply want SCHOLARS on their campuses and in their classrooms. Here are a few fantastic reading lists that can help you plan your summer 2016 reading:
- University of California at Berkeley
- Cornell University
- Columbia University
- Dartmouth College
- Bates College
- Swarthmore College
- University of Chicago
Commit to a reading list of 5-10 “classics” that you may not have the time to read in high school. Broaden your knowledge and delve into Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad, Dante’s Divine Comedy, or Virgil’s Aeneid. Not only will you build your vocabulary, you will be better prepared to discuss literature with the college interviewers and faculty you meet on campus visits, not to mention excel in your freshman seminar (which many colleges offer or require for first year students).
Most students arrive to even the top colleges with little knowledge of the classics. There are many fine versions available nowadays to help students understand high level literature –try the Norton Critical Editions or the Twayne’s Masterwork series; both offer in-depth historical information, essays about the books and other helpful information. College students should invest in these as well, as they will provide many tips for strong writing and background information.
Pursue Scholarly Summer Reading Programs and Opportunities
Since you’re reading anyway, why not consider some added opportunities for the literary minded this summer?
- Check out the Great Books Summer Program, which is open to all passionate, literary-minded students from 6th to 12th grade and deepen your scholarly niche for college admissions.
- June 16th is Bloomsday! So, for all you James Joyce scholars, get your Joyce on! Here’s a link to get you started.
- Check out The Summer 2016 Learning Network’s 7th Annual Summer Reading Contest. It’s sponsored by the NY Times, starts June 17th and is open to students ages 13 to 19.
- Earn a free book as part of Barnes and Noble’s 2016 Summer Reading Triathlon. Starts June 4th!
Enjoy the adventures and vow to keep reading!