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College? College! 10 YA Books About Applying to or Attending (or Not) College

Top Ten Tuesday is a book blog meme founded by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. You can find out more information about TTT, including a list of past and future topics, here.

This week’s topic:

August 28: Back to School/Learning Freebie (in honor of school starting back up soon, come up with your own topic that fits the theme of school or learning! Books that take place at school/boarding school/during study abroad, books you read in school, textbooks you liked/didn’t like, non-fiction books you loved or want to read, etc.)

One of the biggest gaps in YA that I’ve noticed is a lack of books that are either set in college or are about the application/decision process to go to college. As a teen, as soon as you’re in high school, the stress around getting the grades to get into the college that you want, around knowing your friends might be living in different states and countries, around paying for college and around maybe not even wanting to go to college (which is TOTALLY okay and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) looms large.

So why isn’t it more present in YA? Why aren’t there more stories about college students who are still dealing with crises of identity and friend drama, maybe for the first time or more so than high school, in YA? Those are questions I can’t really answer, but I can give y’all ten of my recent YA favorites that tackle college in some shape or form.

And for everyone that has already started college classes or will be starting shortly, good luck this semester! You got this!


1. Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke

This snark-filled YA is about a girl who’s expelled from her high school and enrolls in a degree completion program at her local community college (while moonlighting as a psychology major to play on a student-run reality show to try and win a used car!)


2. The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik by David Arnold

This flat-out weird YA is about Noah Oakman, a teen who initially plans to go to college closeby to his two friends, until he realized college might not be what he wants and his friends might deserve a different future than the ones they originally plan.


3. The Foreseeable Future by Emily Adrian

This swoony YA romance about two teens who work in a retirement facility is especially awesome because it features a protagonist, Audrey, who falls in love with nursing during a summer job, challenging the future her professor parents have set for her at the local liberal arts college where they teach.


 Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

This nerdy YA shows two teens who have been preparing their entire lives for the future they thought would make them successful and happy, only to discover that it might not be what they wanted…or needed at all. It’s a great friendship story about supporting the people you love and following your nerdy dreams no matter what.


5. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

This poignant YA is about Kiko, a girl who gets rejected from Prism, the art school of her dreams, and then tours west coast art schools with her childhood friend, Jamie. It’s a great story about opening up a window to find your dreams when one door slams shut.


6. Roomies by Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr

This dual-authored and dual-POV YA might be one of my all-time favorite books about college. Elizabeth and Lauren find out that they’re going to be college roommates and while they’ve never met, their summer email exchange forges a close friendship between the girls as they each deal with pre-college friend and family drama.


7. The Seven Torments of Amy & Craig by Don Zolidis

This historical YA comedy set in the nineties (no, really, and it works) documents not only Amy and Craig’s seven breakups, but also Craig’s tumultuous college application process and his family’s inability to pay for his and his twin sister’s college tuition in the wake of factory layoffs in their small Wisconsin town.


8. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

This fun, fluffy YA and the follow-up to Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda explores the way that college decisions can complicate once-solid high school friendships.


9. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

This dark, poignant YA features a protagonist who’s the first person in his family to go to college and pursue his love of music, at the protest of his mother. It does a great job of showing the difficulties of wanting to go to college at the protest of family, which isn’t something often discussed, but equally important.


10. Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King

This dark YA deals with college by showing a protagonist who doesn’t think she has a future totally skip applying to college and then having to watch all of her classmates get excited about college and the future, while her best friend who lives in an artist commune, didn’t finish high school. It’s a small detail, but one that informs the story in a fresh and innovative way.

These are some of my favorite YA reads set in and about college. What are some of yours?

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Kicking Off My Book Blog!

I’ve tried book blogging before. I’ve tried plain old blogging before. But I’ve never been able to get into the rhythm of posting. I had to do two blogs last semester for a class, one with my best friend on media censorship and my own on the Internet industry. Since I enjoyed it so much, I want to get back in the habit of blogging regularly.

On my blog, this is what you should expect (at least in the beginning):

  • Posts at least twice a week, at least one on Tuesday and one on Friday
  • Posts include book reviews, personal posts about reading and writing
  • Responses to interesting trends or news in the YA publishing industry
  • Fun blog-related things as I get up and running and start connecting with other bloggers

If you have any suggestions for things I should write about, questions, comments, whatever, just shoot me an email at: