Recommended Books for College-Bound Students

man wearing black crew neck shirt reading book

Reading is good at every age, but college applicants may have a particular motivation to read. There are a number of books out there – beyond college guides – that can help you out in your application process. Consider these kinds of books for students applying to college, and why they may be helpful in your college application process.


First, you’ll want to read fiction that high school English teachers consistently assign. Check out lists of books recommended for high school students to get you started. If you haven’t read some of the books in class, you may want to read them on your own. Some classes in college may assume you’ve read the classics in particular.

Additionally, be sure to read fiction that you’re interested in. Diverse reading can give you a good topic for your essay, along with something to talk about during your college interviews.

Nonfiction in your field of interest

Some high school students tend to reserve nonfiction for school purposes only, such as required reading or for research. However, in college and in the professional world, reading nonfiction demonstrates the desire to better yourself and to understand your work better. Doing this kind of reading now can go far on your application. Depending on the difficulty of the reading, some college admissions offices may also consider it a demonstration of how you’ll do at their college.

Books by professors

Similar to the preview category, reading books by professors of a college you’re interested in can give you a unique advantage. It shows demonstrated interest in the college, and gives you something further to talk about during campus visits or college interviews. Additionally, if you’re lucky, you may have an interviewer who took a class with the professor, and can tell you more about them.

Books recommended by colleges

Whether it’s a book recommended by Ivy League colleges like Harvard, or books that frequently appear on college syllabi, read books put forth by colleges. It’ll help you out if you’re still in the application stage, or if you’re preparing to head off to college.

Other than those mentioned above, check out the applicant, an Empowerly recommended and Amazon best-selling book written by our CEO and founder.


You’ll always be able to better yourself through reading, so there’s really no reason not to read more. However, we hope these kinds of books for students applying to college will help you see the benefits in a different way. If you’re concerned you don’t have time to read, start taking a look at little ways you can fit it in, or make goals for yourself. For example, see if you can’t start with just five pages of reading a day. Maybe you can get those in during a study break, or while you’re on the bus in the morning, or even before you go to sleep. A little can go a long way.

Questions? Let us know!