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How to Be a High School Superstar: A Revolutionary Plan to Get into College by Standing Out (Without Burning Out) Paperback – July 27, 2010

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How to Be a High School Superstar: A Revolutionary Plan to Get into College by Standing Out (Without Burning Out) + How to Become a Straight-A Student: The Unconventional Strategies Real College Students Use to Score High While Studying Less + How to Win at College: Surprising Secrets for Success from the Country's Top Students
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“As a former Ivy League admissions officer, I was overjoyed to see a book that hit the nail on the head regarding selective college admissions and how to take the process in stride. Students will find his book extremely useful and admissions officers will be relieved to see applicants who escape the cookie-cutter syndrome.”
 
—Dr. Michele Hernandez, author of A Is for Admission and president of Hernandez College Consulting and Application Boot Camp

“Disguised as a peppy college-admission guide, Newport’s book is actually a profound, life-affirming manifesto for ambitious high school students. Forgo the sleepless and cynical path to college acceptance. Instead, blaze your trail to the Ivy League by living a full life and immersing yourself in things that matter. Relax. Find meaning. Be you.”
 
—David Shenk, author of The Genius in All of Us
 
This book should be on the shelf of every student who wonders how to stand out in the increasingly competitive race to get into a top college. His approach will not only help you win the admissions race, it will keep you sane while you run the marathon.”
 
—Joie Jager-Hyman, author of Fat Envelope Frenzy

About the Author

CAL NEWPORT is the author of How to Win at College and How to Become a Straight-A Student. He graduated from Dartmouth College and earned a Ph.D. from MIT. His writing has appeared in national publications, and he is the founder of Study Hacks, the Web’s most popular student advice blog.
 
www.calnewport.com
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; 1 edition (July 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767932587
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767932585
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Cal Newport is a writer and a professor of computer science at Georgetown University. He is the author of four books and runs the popular advice blog, Study Hacks, which attempts to decode "patterns of success" in both school and the working world. His contrarian ideas on building a successful, meaningful life have been featured on TV, radio, and in many major publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and New York Post.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Victor Cheng on December 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I picked up this book because I'm a parent and was intrigued by the premise. Little did I realize that the approach described in the book is actually the approach I took (without realizing it) to get into Stanford many years ago and is the same approach my brother took to get into Harvard.

I also have a friend who was an application reader at Stanford. There's a remark in particular she made about the process that jumped out at me. Each reader will read several hundred applications. Most applications are boring. Most seem the same as the next. The readers often get bored by reading 400 applications in a row that all seem, well the SAME.

This significant point on this is the applications are STILL boring even if they are all impressive in the SAME WAY. This is a nuance in college admissions that I think is really lost on a lot people who apply. There are two ways to get into a top school: 1) be the smartest / most academically accomplished applicant, 2) be smart enough but really unusual / different in some unconventional way.

The Superstar book is the only book I've ever seen on the latter.
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53 of 59 people found the following review helpful By BoulderDad on August 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm fifteen, and attend a college prep K-12 school, where from sixth grade up the focus is college, college, college. I started attending this school for high school only, after attending a more lax charter where the focus was on making a difference in society through charity, not necessarily on competition in academia, in that until high school, I never received grades.

My dad got me this book last week. I read the whole thing in one day, and I loved it. My school puts so much pressure on math and physics, and I'm friends with so many people who go to summer school to take more of those classes and who actively enjoy them. Since the start of freshmen year I'd been trying to get better at those subjects because that was what everyone around me perceived as important, but I have very little interest in physics and only a bit more in math. I actively enjoy biology, language arts, social studies, climate science and genetic engineering, but because of the pressures of my school life I didn't focus on them as much as I knew I wanted to.

After reading this book, I've felt sort of free to not try and master a subject that I know I would be miserable studying. Instead, I'm turning my attentions back to genetics, biology and climate sciences.

Before reading this book, I was stressed out and unhappy. I'm entering sophomore year, and I was planning on doubling up Chemistry and Physics classes during the year so I could gain an edge and stand out on college application forms. Now, though, with the full permission of my father, I probably will not be taking high school physics. Instead, this year I'm signing up for AP Biology.

This book is definitely a must-read.
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47 of 52 people found the following review helpful By read&run on May 13, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a high school college counselor and I adore the idea of abandoning the word "passion" and instead encouraging students to just explore things that interest them and see where it goes. I also love the emphasis on reducing stress by doing less of the stuff supposedly designed to help with college applications.

I'm a little turned off though by the case studies I've skimmed through where these relaxed kids get into Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, Princeton, Columbia and so on. First, having the unusual and interesting activities is really terrific and those kids sound amazing - but I'm not seeing any acknowledgment that they probably also had darn good standardized test scores. The examples of the young woman who got into the dreamy Berkeley of the 36,000 applications or the student who got into 20 of her 21 U.S. News-ranked schools are incomplete if they don't mention SAT scores. No matter how great the activities and essays were, if GPA and test scores were not already at a certain level, those things would never be seen at schools that have to screen out literally thousands of applicants by using boring metrics. My fear is that this book is going to spike already insane levels of applications to those schools because kids are going to think they actually have a shot.

Second, and granted I haven't finished reading the book yet, but the author seems really focused on writing only about the "top" colleges and universities in the U.S. Isn't this effectively continuing to perpetuate the myth that there are only a handful of colleges worth aspiring to? What about the interesting and relaxed B student with average SAT scores? Where are their success stories? There are thousands of other outstanding colleges out there for all kinds of students.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By bookworm718 on March 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book during winter break of junior year, wondering how I was ever going to stand out in college applications. I was stressed out with multiple club responsibilities just like anyone else, multiple APs, Asian parents pressuring me to get at least a 2300 on the SAT. I picked up this book because I read his book on study strategies and I liked his straightforward, concise style.

It was lifechanging.

Newport basically asks you to quit things that are boring and "don't matter" and instead focus on a few interests. It was a big risk to take, but Newport asks you to have faith that it will work spendidly to make you an interesting person, instead of an overachieving, boring tryhard. I have him to thank for making my life more authentic, and being admitted to various top-10 universities.

The book shows you step-by-step, how various high-schoolers achieved awe-inspiring accomplishments such as creating a health curriculum adopted by multiple states, becoming a tech celebrity, or writing a best-selling book. It rests on the basic idea that impressiveness comes from things that aren't hard to accomplish but are hard to simulate the steps required to get there. Well, this book unlocks the secrets, but leaves just enough guidance to give one the freedom to do one's own thing.

In addition, this book also has helpful tips like how to pick your classes, how to study more effectively, how to do well on the SAT's, etc. Buy it and you won't regret it.
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