Ever hear that “reading is fundamental”? If you’ve ever watched an NBA game, chances are that you have. We at Ivy Coach agree. Reading is fundamental. So why do so few high school students write about books that they’ve read for pleasure in their college essays? We have no clue. But what we do know in our many years of helping students gain admission to highly selective colleges is that the vast majority of applicants to highly selective colleges don’t in fact read for pleasure. Sure, they’ve read “The Great Gatsby,” “The Pearl,” “The Color of Water,” and “To Kill A Mockingbird,” but so has everybody else. These books are considered American classics. They are required reading at most high schools. Reading F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, James McBride, and all of these notable American authors will not set you apart from the pack of other applicants to highly selective colleges.
If you’re a high school student, read for pleasure before you fall asleep at night. Read for pleasure when you wake up. Read for pleasure when you don’t feel like studying for your chemistry test anymore. Read for pleasure when you want to escape from your annoying younger sibling who keeps changing the channel without your consent. Read for pleasure as much as you can and this will show not only in how you write but also in what you write about.
Highly selective colleges want to admit students who just plain love to learn. It’s quite simple. They don’t want to admit students who learn just to achieve great grades. Who wants to be around those types of students? Not university professors at top schools in America. College admissions counselors at top colleges want interesting student bodies. Students who love to read for pleasure are inherently more interesting than those students who don’t. It’s really quite simple.