Recommended Books for College-Bound Students

man wearing black crew neck shirt reading book
Kristen Seikaly
Kristen Seikaly

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Reading is good at every age, but college applicants may have a particular motivation to read. There are a number of books (beyond college guides) that can actually help you out in your application process. Wondering why they may be helpful in your college application process? This article will review several categories of books for college bound students and explain how they will serve you.


First, you’ll want to read fiction that high school English teachers consistently assign. Not only should you do this because it will help your GPA, but the titles may come up again later! Some classes in college may even just assume you’ve read the classics.

Check out lists of books recommended for high school students, like our own series of book club suggestions, to get you started. If you haven’t read some of the books in class, you may want to read them on your own.

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. Even adults may view nonfiction as required reading or only for research. However, in college and in the professional world, reading nonfiction demonstrates the desire to learn! Reading nonfiction like this will help you better yourself, and understand your work better. Of course, 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! That is a great opportunity to ask your interviewer to tell you more about them.

Books recommended by colleges

Sometimes, books will be recommended by Ivy League colleges like Harvard; if you don’t explicitly see “books for college bound students,” then check what frequently appears on their college syllabi. Read books put forth by colleges you’re applying to, if youc an. It’ll help you out if you’re still in the application stage, or if you’re preparing to head off to college.


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!