The College Selection Compass: Helping Families Navigate a Difficult Course by Rebecca J. Callow and Susan P. Nichols

The College Selection Compass: Helping Families Navigate a Difficult Course
Rebecca J. Callow and Susan P. Nichols
iUniverse (2008)
ISBN 9780595491926
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD, for Reader Views (5/09)


The authors have given a great resource for all parents or caregivers who are getting ready for their children to leave for college. Getting into colleges isn’t what it used to be – it is tougher and you have to apply earlier. With education budget cuts and rising tuitions it is important for families to look at everything to make a good selection.

From the very beginning, the authors discuss their own children applying for colleges as well as research they have done by interviewing current college attendees. Like most college-bound kids, many wait until the last minute to write essays or complete applications thinking “no big deal.” They are disappointed when they don’t get in or are placed on a deferred list.

Making a selection isn’t easy, as often the parent(s) or college-bound students have different ideas about where they want to go. I found the idea of meeting with school guidance counselors, making a notebook and having family meetings to be a great idea. Although this may not appeal to the student – it really is a must if you don’t want to go crazy.

In Chapter 5, the authors discuss how to get organized by dividing the high school years into areas that need to be addressed from taking PSATs to visiting and applying for colleges. Too many students only look at the campus activities or the beauty of the campus- they don’t seem too concerned about academics.

There are great examples of a workbook to complete from a resume; sample letters and do not forget thank-you letters. There are graphs from their research to show how and when many current college students started the academic search.

Interestingly enough, due to the world finance situation many students are attending virtual campuses. They need to work as well as go to school. If a student lives far away from campuses, online schools might be for them. I did not see any discussion about this in the author’s book- however; it might be one they would like to write.

Overall, “The College Selection Compass” by Callow and Nichols was easy to read and understand. It is a great resource to have and once one has completed the process and been accepted, they might want to give it to another family.

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