Why Outside Reading is Important When Preparing for College
Outside reading is often not a priority for students, as things like extracurricular activities, test prep, coursework, and other college prep factors take up most of their time. However, outside reading can be a great college prep tool. Here’s why.
It helps students develop their interests.
Having a specialty or defined interests is extremely important when applying to college. Colleges want to build well-rounded classes made up of specialists, and becoming a specialist means finding your passion and exploring that particular interest, and one of the best ways to do this is through reading. For example, a student interested in economics or finance can read books, blogs and niche publications to better understand the field and its core concepts. This knowledge can then be used in extracurricular activities, such as functioning as the treasurer for the entrepreneur club or organizing a fundraiser for another student organization. Here are some of our recommended outside reading lists:
- Recommended Reading for High School Students
- 8 Summer Reading Suggestions for High School Students
- IvyWise Summer Reading List
- 2013 Summer Reading List
Reading can make you a better writer.
Those who read a variety of well-written works are more likely to excel in writing achievement. Coupled with enhanced vocabulary, writing styles and devices, including cadence, word usage, sentence construction and more, can essentially rub off on readers. It’s also important not just to read, but analyze the selection itself including its meaning, themes and ultimate message.
Colleges will ask what you’re reading outside of class!
Columbia University, Stanford University, and Wake Forest are just a few examples of schools that ask students what they have read outside of class as part of the application. Colleges want to get to know students and their interests and looking at their outside reading is one way to do it. Not only does outside reading provide insight into your personality, it can also give you material for a compelling college essay. For example, in Harvard’s Common Application supplement, students are given the opportunity to write an essay from a selection of topics, including “an intellectual experience (course, project, book, discussion, paper, poetry or research topic in engineering, mathematics, science or other modes of inquiry) that has meant the most to you.”
It can help you relax.
High school can be stressful, especially if you’re taking rigorous courses and active in your extracurricular initiatives. Doing something for yourself, like reading a good book not related to class, can help you unwind. Even just reading for a short amount of time can reduce stress levels by up to 68%. This is important for students struggling with the balance among school, extracurricular activities and standardized test prep.
Outside reading may not be at the top of students’ lists when determining what do with their free time, but even setting aside just an hour or two per week to read can help their college prep! Stay on track with your outside reading and other college prep by downloading our free College Prep Checklist!