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10 Amazing Books on College Counseling Worth Checking Out

There is a wealth of resources out there that can help you become a better counselor but it can be hard to sort through the numerous options. To make things easier, we have curated a list of 10 books on college counseling that can take your practice to the next level. From comprehensive guides on universities and pointers about starting your own educational consulting business to insights into the minds of admissions officers, these books offer useful perspectives, strategies, and practical advice.

Both novices and seasoned professionals will find valuable information in these books. So, dive right in. Here are 10 incredible books on college counseling:


Price: $27 - $29

The Fiske Guide is one of the most widely used and respected college guides in the country, authored by Edward Fiske. Fiske started the guide when he was an editor at The New York Times. The book includes detailed information on over 320 schools, covering academics, extracurricular activities, social life, and financial aid as well as unique rankings that you don’t find otherwise. Instead of focusing on standard statistics, the university descriptions rely on extensive research and personal anecdotes from students to offer a comprehensive understanding of the college. To a college counselor, this kind of unbiased information can be very useful while guiding prospective college students.

Author: Ethan Sawyer

Price: $9 - $17 (Range includes the cost for ebook and paperback formats)

Source: Bookshop, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Also known as the College Essay Guy, Ethan Sawyer is widely recognized as an expert in the field of college admissions, making this book a credible resource. It covers all the fundamentals related to choosing and applying to a university, all being driven by what is most important to the student in question. Inside, you will also find insights from deans of admission, interactive exercises, online resources, and specific guidance for minority communities. As an IEC, you can use this book to construct a structured approach to college admissions and integrate it into your counseling practice.

Author: Various authors per chapter, the book has been edited by Beth Gilfillan and Christopher Tremblay

Price: TBA

Source: TBA but previous editions have been available on Amazon, AbeBooks, eBay and more

This is the only entry on this list that hasn’t been published yet but is set to release in Spring of 2024. The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) is an organization of professionals from the field of college admission who are dedicated to supporting students pursuing higher education. This book is a comprehensive resource on supporting students and families through counseling, covering an extensive set of topics — ethical principles in admission counseling, developmental theories to support students, use of technology in counseling, as well as advice for counseling specific student populations like students with disabilities or LGBTQIA+ students. With the latest edition, you can expect the most up-to-date information as well as several case studies.

Author: Jeffrey Selinger

Price: $18 - $28

Source: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop

Jeffrey Selinger is another reputed journalist who has authored several books about higher education. In this book, the writer offers an inside look at the way universities select their students. He observed the admissions process at Emory University, the University of Washington, and Davidson College to offer these insights, which say a lot about the strategies used by administrators and the factors a student’s application is judged on. Selinger also consulted students, parents, marketers, college rankers and more for the book’s contents. This behind-the-scenes preview can help you guide your students draw up their applications and decide which parts of their profile to highlight.

Author: Steven R. Antonoff

Price: $19 - $28

Source: Kindle Store, Amazon, and Bookshop

Written by an independent educational consultant, this book provides an introduction to the profession of education consulting. He breaks down the basics of starting one’s own practice and then dives into the details of all the different principles and practices of being an IEC. While particularly useful for IECs who are just starting out, more experienced counselors will also find value in the book’s sections on pricing, service models, counseling theories, different types of students and more. The book also has a free, companion website where Antonoff has curated an array of resources to help counselors. 

Author: Trish Hatch, Julie Hartline

Price: $31 - $47 (Price range includes the cost of the ebook and paperback versions)

Source: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Corwin

Trish Hatch and Julie Hartline are two school counselors who advocate for more intentional counseling that uses data-informed decisions. The book covers various strategies for you to use data to enhance your practice at all stages, from identifying student needs to conveying results to clients. This includes directions for analyzing data to develop curriculum scope, action plans, program evaluations, results reports and more. It also comes with several tools like surveys, templates, and data management forms which can become a staple in your counseling practice.

Author: Tinashe Blanchet

Price: $16 - $25 (Price range includes the cost of the ebook and paperback versions)

Source: Routledge and Amazon

Written by a teacher and consultant with over 20 years of experience in the education industry, this book serves as an introduction for those who want to start their own education business. She not only uses her own experience but also interviews over 40 other freelance educators. You will learn about writing a business plan, launching a business, branding and marketing, money management, client communication, as well as how to grow your business.

Author: The Princeton Review, Robert Franek, David Soto, Stephen Koch, Aaron Riccio, Laura Rose

Price: $20 - $27 (The lower end of this range refers to second-hand copies)

Source: Penguin Random House, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon

Another guidebook on universities across the USA is The Princeton Review’s annual publication — the Best 389 Colleges. The 2024 edition has used feedback from about 165,000 students to profile the universities and their various aspects — academics, administration, social life, financial aid, campus culture, career services and more. The book also offers rankings and ratings in 50 different categories. Coming from a reputed organization means you can rely on the information in this guidebook and use it to tailor your advice to students.

Author: Ron Lieber

Price: $8 - $26 (Range includes paperback and hardcover prices, cheaper audiobook formats are also available)

Source: Bookshop, Amazon, Rakuten Kobo, and Penguin

If you need a guide to the financial aspect of college applications, this book breaks the whole process down. The book covers topics such as the true cost of attending college, navigating the financial aid process, understanding merit aid, and making informed decisions about where to attend college. You can use the book’s roadmap to help families set goals, save money, and negotiate better deals. One thing to consider is that the book’s focus is on elite private colleges and high-end public universities, so it doesn’t cover the cheaper end of the spectrum. However, Ron Lieber is a well-known finance columnist for The New York Times and is reputed for explaining complex financial systems, so you can rely on the information to be accurate.  

Author: Irena Smith

Price: $9 - $18 (Range includes the price for ebook and paperback formats)

Source: Amazon, Bookshop, Indiebound, and Barnes and Noble

A more personal entry than the others in this article, The Golden Ticket is Irena Smith’s memoir that details her journey from entering the US as an immigrant to becoming a college counselor and struggling with her own children’s journeys on the road to success. While this may seem just like a personal anecdote, the book dives into topics like the obsession with elite colleges, insights on the college admissions process, tidbits of her work with students, and the overlap between her counseling practice and parenting three children. It may not be a straightforward guidebook or roadmap but Smith’s memoir, which has been favourably reviewed in Forbes, can definitely help shape your own values and approach towards counseling.  

If you’d like to recommend a rigorous research program open to high schoolers, you may want to consider the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded by researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here. You can also reach out to us at to know more, or to have a chat about possible collaborations!

Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a Ph.D. student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image Source: Cover of the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2024 by Edward Fiske.



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