Must-Reads for the Admission Office in 2014

Vol. 12 No. 5


New Year’s Day has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add a resolution to your list! We’ve spoken with admission professionals across the country and our ISM consultants, and here are books Admission Officers have recommended to their peers.

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen—There are times when you need to sit down with another party—relative, coworker, or irate family—and have, well, a difficult conversation. Having a resource like Difficult Conversations on your bookshelf will make awkward meetings as smooth as possible.

Overachievers: Secret Lives of Driven Kids by Alexandra Robbins—Overachievers takes a look into the lives of real teens in prestigious public schools in the U.S., but it doesn’t take a spectacular imagination to see the applications of these students in your review pile this spring. Driven by fear of failing their school and parents, Overachievers examines students who push themselves beyond impossible mental and physical limits to rack up a list of achievements that would be impressive for an adult twice their age to have. Understanding the potential mindset and background of some of your most academically-qualified candidates may help you make the best decision, for both your school and your student’s.

The Price of Privilege by Madeline Levine, PhD—Price of Privilege is a professional psychologist’s observations on the same sort of students featured in Overachievers, with reports, statistics, and anecdotal evidence of psychological problems in teenagers despite their wealthy antecedents. While the Admission Office is no therapist’s den, one of our consultants recommended reading this book—and then reviewing it in your school’s newsletter to families. It’s a great read for parents and administrators alike.

Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams by Alfred Lubrano—Lubrano chronicles his own life in Limbo as the son of a Brooklyn bricklayer who’s risen to a more “white collar” job and position, speaking of and to others in the same border space. It’s a huge cultural change for those attempting to reach for the American dream of being able to attain success despite low starting points, and Lubrano sees those like himself as an “overlooked cultural phenomenon” which deserves to be highlighted. Perhaps in the same way that Overachievers highlighted a stereotypically higher socioeconomic problem, Limbo may prove to be an interesting look through the eyes of your financial aid recipients.

Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions by John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber—An allegorical fable for offices like Animal Farm is for politics, Our Iceberg tells a story about a little penguin who wants to change things in order to survive (their iceberg is melting!), but, well, change is hard, and there are a lot of personalities crammed into this particular Admission Office—er, we mean “iceberg.” It takes tact, teamwork, and time for implement changes, especially when tackling engrained traditions. Who knows? Maybe you’ll recognize your penguin doppelganger in this easy but useful read.

Additional ISM Resources
ISM Monthly Update for School Heads Vol. 7 No. 6 Teen Self Esteem
ISM Monthly Update for School Heads Vol. 9 No. 4 The Pressure on High School Students to Build Their Resume…Whose Best Interest Is It?
ISM Monthly Update for Human Resources Vol. 10 No. 5 Constructive Conversations, Coaching, and Mentoring
ISM Monthly Update for Division Heads Vol. 6 No. 7 How to Handle the Fire Breathing Parent (or Guardian)

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 30 No. 11 Change and the Implementation Dip
I&P Vol. 33 No. 5 Parent relations in the Pre-Enrollment Period

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