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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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“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
“How to Be a High School Superstar 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. Cal Newport has a keen sense of what types of students and activities appeal to college admissions officers and his advice is exceptionally easy to execute. 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 and B+ Grades, A+ College Application
“This book changes everything. Put away your traditional college plan and get ready to learn something that really works.” —Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup and The Art of Non-Conformity
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As a middle-aged woman with no intention of applying to colleges any time soon, I read this book through and found it quite interesting and full of useful guidance on keeping yourself open to opportunities and new experiences and being willing to pay your dues and establish your own credibility within a closed organization -- lots of useful tips here, whether you are 16 or 56. Newport is a good, clear, writer, and the book is full of examples of student successes. Many of the success stories seem daunting at first glance -- not everyone is going to write a best-seller or start a million-dollar company -- but every student can find a unique path to pursue.
I highly recommend this for any high school student who has a very rigid and daunting notion of what it will take to get into college. And I recommend it for parents of such students.
I definitely recommend this book. It has good, unconventional advice on how to succeed as a high school student without being a social reject. This advice will probably NOT be common sense to the type-A students out there who have been raised thinking the successful students do homework from 6p-12a every night. If you know a student who wants to get into an elite university, this book provides evidenced techniques for succeeding toward that end.
***A FULLER REVIEW***
I picked this book up for my brother, who's in high school. Secretly, I--being a university Freshman--wanted to read it too. The book's lessons can be life-changing if you listen and have faith in Newport's advice.
I was the opposite of relaxed in high-school. I was stressed, involved in service clubs I didn't care about, and taking 6 AP courses each semester my senior year. I got a 30 on my ACT, which was certainly nothing spectacular in the eyes of most elite schools. Not surprisingly, my laundry list of unremarkable endeavors, A average in AP courses, and mediocre standardized test scores did NOT get me into Harvard, MIT, Yale, Dartmouth, Columbia...(seriously, the list of elite schools to which I applied and was rejected is embarrassingly long). This book explains, in explicit detail, why my attempt at getting into the elite universities was flawed, and it also explains the optimal way to try to get into elite universities.
For high-school students, the book gives excellent advice for lowering stress (e.g. stop working at a certain time each day, do some thinking/reading in solitude, don't give up your entire life for school, etc.). The book also gives excellent advice for improving grades (i.e. note-taking methods, studying strategies, etc.) and advice for doing interesting things outside the classroom. It is a very balanced approach to high-school life that, when executed correctly, will make a student more impressive AND leave her with more free time than the alternative (i.e. my approach described above).
For the general public, this book contains valuable lessons about creating a more interesting life. The rules still apply, if you're creative enough to seek the applications. Not working past a certain point in the day, pursuing endeavors that are innovative, and cultivating a reading habit are among the many broadly applicable tips Newport gives throughout the book.
My main critique of the book is that it doesn't explicitly spell out how much of your free time should be used for interesting pursuits versus totally social activity (e.g. hanging out with friends). I suppose the author leaves it to you to discern that Friday and Saturday nights are good times to interact with other humans.
This book was definitely worth the few days it took me to read through it. If you're interested in becoming interesting (and perhaps getting into an elite university), this book will spell the process out for you.
Top international reviews
Cal Newport was a Profesional student, so he knows what he had to do to succeed at all levels of the education system. And here he will give your child all the advice they need to get better marks, leverage their extracurricular activities, and stand out from their peers. As parents, it's hard to give advice that can be timely in our current education system. But Cal Newport will help in that department, so you can stick with talking about the birds and the bees with your teeanager.
This book is a small investment that could make a huge impact on your child's future education.