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The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price (2nd Edition) 2nd Edition

82 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0132944670
ISBN-10: 0132944677
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Editorial Reviews


“The College Solution provides a roadmap for students and parents trying to figure out the complex path to college. At every step along the process, Lynn O’Shaughnessy provides the necessary information families need to know about admissions and financial aid in an easy-to-digest format. Students and parents are inundated with information about college these days and this is a great book to help you figure out what really matters.”

Jeffrey J. Selingo, vice president and editorial director, The Chronicle of Higher Education


“Chock-full of information about college entrance and affordability, O’Shaughnessy’s second edition of The College Solution is sure to raise your admission and financial aid ‘IQ.’”

Seth Allen, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Pomona College


“The College Solution is an easy-to-read conversational guide to paying for college. Lynn O’Shaughnessy is a champion for consumers and will help you pick the college that is the best fit for you and your wallet.”

Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of and and the author of The Secrets to Winning a Scholarship


“Even though I’ve been labeled a ‘college admissions expert,’ this is a book that I wish I had read when my son was still in high school. Jam-packed with information about testing, college essays, interviews, financial aid, and much, much more, this highly readable guide will help parents and their children through an often confusing process.”

Robert Schaeffer, a founder of The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest)

About the Author

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is a nationally recognized higher-ed author, journalist, and speaker. She writes frequently about college issues for CBS MoneyWatch and for her own popular college blog at


Lynn has written or been interviewed about college for such media outlets as Money Magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Fox Business News, Huffington Post, Parade Magazine, CBS This Morning, USA Today, and US News & World Report. She is the consulting director of college planning, K-12, at the University of California, San Diego Extension. She also is a frequent speaker on how families can find and afford great schools. Lynn’s daughter is a recent college graduate and her son is a college sophomore. Lynn is a graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism.



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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: FT Press; 2 edition (May 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0132944677
  • ISBN-13: 978-0132944670
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By N. B. Kennedy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 17, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lynn O'Shaughnessy's book is essential reading for anyone who has a child heading for college in a few years. The biggest takeaway for me was the message to start early. Don't wait until junior year to start thinking about where-when-how-and-why.

Because of the ridiculously complicated issue of financing, parents need to complete all kinds of financial calculations -- ones I'd never heard of, like the Expected Family Contribution and the Net Price Calculator -- in order to estimate the true cost of any college their child is considering. I sort of knew about the FAFSA paperwork that you fill out in order to qualify for financial aid, but because of this book and a subsequent call to a college my son is considering, I learned that I need to complete paperwork other than FAFSA a year early if we submit applications for early decision or early action. You'll also find some great inside information on how to tip the scales in your favor in the admissions game: for example, if you're a male, you're going to look good to a liberal arts college with a high percentage of female students.

Another book parents of high school students must read is The Perfect Score Project: Uncovering the Secrets of the SAT by Debbie Stier. The author wanted to know how to prepare her son for taking the SAT, so she took the test herself seven times! She has lots of real-world tips for preparing for the test and for taking the test. That's another big message of Ms. O'Shaughnessy's book -- the importance of that SAT score, a student's grade point average and class ranking. My kid's not going to be slacking off any time soon!
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Falkor VINE VOICE on May 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I learned a lot from this compact, well organized book! The volume is divided in to six basic parts: "Shrinking the Cost of College", "Increasing Your Admissions Chances", "Knowing Your Academic Choices," "Evaluating the Academics", "Admission Nuts and Bolts" and "Borrowing for College".

In the "Shrinking the Cost of College" section I discovered that parents can have an unlimited amount in retirement accounts and a very expensive home and this does not detract from the child's chance at financial aid. The Expected Family Contribution form and its importance is well explained as is how to use net price calculators. Plenty of practical advice surrounding how to maximize financial aid and shrink college costs is included.

Much can be learned from the book's second section entitled "Increasing Your Admissions Chances". I was surprised to find how many well respected schools are now making admissions tests like the ACT and SAT optional. Also interesting was how important geographic location can be in getting admitted to college. I never knew before that showing interest often and early in particular can actually help a prospective student be admitted to their dream school. And the book does not shy away from discussing when gender or race can help or hurt at certain colleges and universities.

Part three "Knowing Your Academic Choices" explores the differences between colleges and universities and further breaks this topic down in to the four main types of institutions of higher learning. There is a chapter in this section called "The Ivy League Myth" which is very interesting.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is it. The practical, down to earth, realistic advice you need as a parent in order to help your child to choose a college or university (which, by the way, are not the same and the difference is explained in this book). The author helps you to figure out how to get the most for your education dollar. There are tons of books helping you to decide how to buy a house, or a car. College often costs even more. This is the book you need to help you get value for your money for your child's higher education and to choose a place your child will thrive.

The sections are titled:
1. Shrinking the cost of college
2. Increasing your admissions chances
3. Knowing your academic choices
4. Evaluating the academics
5. Admissions nuts and bolts
6. Borrowing for College

My son is a current high school sophomore. He attends a private high school, with excellent college counselors. In fact, he was required to take a class this year on college counseling. I did learn quite a bit from the material he brought home from that class, but still felt like I had many questions. This book answered many of them, among them:

Is an Ivy League education worth the price tag? (probably not from a lifetime earnings point of view)

What are the advantages/disadvantages of attending a research institution?

What are some factors that affect admissions and aid?

How can you maximize merit aid (especially if you are not eligible for financial aid) ?

The author shows a decided leaning toward liberal arts colleges and is up front about her position. She bases this opinion upon the fact that these colleges are more concerned with teaching undergraduates, leading to a focus on student learning rather than research.
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