What High Schools Don’t Tell You (And Other Parents Don’t Want You to Know): Create a Long-Term Plan for Your 7th to 10th Grader for Getting into the Top Colleges

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  • a solid if a bit unreasonable guide to structuring a seventh or eighth grader’s next four years for college success
  • best taken in small doses and with grains of salt; applying everything it includes would completely exhaust both parent and child
  • a great source of ideas for ways in which a student can plot a path to a dream college

Moms and Dads: unless you’re in the mood for some serious sacrifice, you shouldn’t take What High Schools Don’t Tell You too seriously. The book’s title creates the mood of a weeknight investigative report, and author Elizabeth Wissner-Gross’ writing and structure, although well-meaning, aren’t as prime time as the style and arguments of similar college prep titles.

Wissner-Gross spurs her readers to adopt a take-no-prisoners approach to the college admissions pursuit, shooting for a litany of national prizes and awards and prestige summer camps and honors well before their sons or daughters even arrive at junior year. A spoonful of this “ambition at all costs” aesthetic has its merits, but parents without free schedules and additional bank accounts might find much of What High Schools Don’t Tell You too much to be downed.

Wissner-Gross’ recommendations might also create undue stress in the teens they’re meant to position for collegiate success. Were a fourteen year old to subscribe wholesale to What High Schools Don’t Tell You’s tips — pack your schedule with Honors and AP courses, master the saxophone, make the Junior Olympic soccer team, and start a campaign to save the local homeless — he’d be too taxed to get out of bed in time for school.

This is an excellent title to inspire and elucidate possibilities for a well-structured college-bound high school career. Readers should just avoid getting too hung up on its every piece of advice.