Review – How to Succeed in High School and Prep for College by Phyllis Zimbler Miller, M.B.A.

I had not heard of the author until she followed my Twitter account. I also took a peek at her LinkedIn account; her experience is in marketing and speechwriting (she has also written novels and screenplays).  What, no college counseling? I offered to read and review this book with the understanding that my report would be an honest one, and Ms. Miller agreed.

As I began to read, I was impressed. Before I reached the midpoint, I was converted. How to Succeed is a must read for students who are committed to playing the college entrance game to win.

The book is available in Kindle format (text-to-speech is enabled) for $9.99, and was 247 pages long on my iPad. It is not meant to be a comprehensive overview of the entire college application process. However, it is chock full of useful advice.

Organization

Here is the Table of Contents:

CHAPTER I: TAKING YOUR OWN PATH
OPTIONS AND CONTROL
PASSION – THE NUMBER ONE THEME OF THIS BOOK
NOTE FOR PARENTS, ADVISORS AND MENTORS – “MIDWIFE” PASSION
STARTING AT THE BEGINNING – YOUR RESUME
FORMATTING A RESUME
WHAT GOES ON A RESUME

CHAPTER II: PREPARING FOR INTERVIEWS OR MEETINGS
GENERAL PREPARATIONS FOR YOUR LIFE PATH
BEFORE A MEETING/INTERVIEW
DURING A MEETING/INTERVIEW
AFTER A MEETING/INTERVIEW

CHAPTER III: PLANNING AHEAD FOR HIGH SCHOOL
CHOOSING YOUR HIGH SCHOOL COURSES BEFORE SCHOOL BEGINS
ADVANCED PLACEMENT COURSES IN HIGH SCHOOL
THE FUN PART OF HIGH SCHOOL – EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
INTRODUCTION TO INTERNSHIPS
A FINAL WORD ABOUT WORDS
EXERCISES

CHAPTER IV: APPLYING TO COLLEGE
THOSE ALL IMPORTANT ESSAYS
EARLY ADMISSION OPTIONS
OTHER COLLEGE APPLICATION FACTORS
HE SAID, SHE SAID – THE IMPORTANT RECOMMENDATIONS
EXTRA HOMEWORK
CONNECTING TO OTHER PEOPLE FOR HELP
SUMMER PROGRAMS VS. SUMMER PROGRAMS – SOME YOU PAY FOR
ADDITIONAL ASSISTS IN COLLEGE APPLICATIONS
STANDARDIZED TESTS
GET ALL THE INFORMATION YOU CAN ON EACH COLLEGE
FINANCIAL AID
EXERCISES

CHAPTER V: AFTER THE COLLEGE/PROGRAM APPLICATIONS ARE IN
EXERCISES
BONUS: Tips for How to Use Dynamic Language on a College Application Essay

Pros

How To Succeed offers a unique and effective way to do what the title promises: maximize your potential and win the “college hunt.” It begins by advising you to begin planning as early as the summer after eighth grade.  The guide is directed at the student, but useful advice for parents is sprinkled throughout.

Most teenagers put off thinking about their responsibilities as long as possible. A central theme of this guide is prepare early. Start working on your resume before you need one. Practice interviewing, use social media effectively, learn about colleges, etc. If you follow this book to the letter, you may even feel sorry for most other students when you realize how unprepared they are.

As mentioned above, the author does not have a professional background in college counseling. However, she has clearly had a lot of experience in the area, and has done exhaustive research. As a result, the guide includes helpful tips that aren’t found in many other books. For example, a student may not realize that, by completing 9th grade math in junior high, he may be required to take calculus if he plans to apply to colleges that require four years of math in high school.

Cons

My only real objection is not truly a criticism of this book. In order to best use the given advice, a teenager needs to be very ambitious and dedicated even before she begins high school. Unfortunately, not many students fit this bill. However, it is my feeling that many students who use this guide will experience a “rush of empowerment” as they begin to follow its recommendations, even if they were initially reluctant.

I found about ten minor grammar/style errors, which should be corrected by a proofreader.

Overview

As I mentioned, only highly motivated students will get the most out of this book. It will still be of use to others, including those who read it midway through high school. But those who do begin following the author’s regimen after eighth grade, and follow it through rigorously, will have a tremendous advantage at the college hunt. I have no doubt that this advantage will carry over beyond college. In any case, the author plans to write two follow-up books to help during and after college.

This guide is largely about developing a certain attitude. The author does not expect students to stop having fun; rather, she suggests that students learn to integrate fun activities into a driven, goal-oriented lifestyle.

To that end, the author’s background as a writer and marketer have served her well. As I read this book, I frequently felt energized as I thought “students who read this can morph into ‘movers and shakers.’”

I highly recommend this book. 5 stars.

Buy the book here.

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