Heading to College or University? A Reading Survival Guide
We all know that at some point in our lives, we will need to close a beloved chapter in our book to begin a new one with the hope of achieving a more enriching, albeit challenging experience. Starting college or university is one of those phases that we anticipate with either absolute excitement or with extreme dread, and yet we all know that ultimately it will be a worthwhile experience.
If you’re about to join the ranks as a freshman next semester, know that you can always turn to your older family and friends for advice if you ever feel overwhelmed. In addition, most – if not all – educational institutions provide online and off-campus admissions team or counsellors who can help as you transition from high school to college or university. In between, you can also turn to these vital reading materials to help you prepare for what lies ahead.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Dystopian novels are a dime a dozen these days, thanks to the success of young adult series like Hunger Games and Divergent. However, in a way, they owe it to this novel published in 1932. “Brave New World” imagines a world where individuals are human embryos are genetically engineered to adhere to the standards of five castes: one destined to grow up to be physically and intellectually outstanding, another are set to grow up as labourers and basically to serve those in the upper castes. Amidst this chaotic world lies a strong-willed main character who strives for his individualism. No one can deny its message that one should always strive to remain true to one’s self despite society’s pressure not to be otherwise.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Path
This acclaimed novel centres on Esther as she struggles with mental health issues while in college. Sylvia, a stand-in for the main character, doesn’t mince for words and paints a sordid picture of what it was like for people in her situation – certainly a far cry from the Hollywood movies which depict quick fixes for people coping with depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorders, often set to a soundtrack of indie music’s flavor of the month. Mental illness is real, and often the process to cope with these issues is painstaking and overcoming these issues is a long road. Ultimately, however, we all should know we are not alone and that there’s always hope.
The Circle by Dave Eggers
One of the more current novels in the list, the Circle may not be about the college or university experience, but it shows the repercussions of oversharing private information and intimate moments and being excessively dependent on technology. As with any individual in a new environment, it’s always natural to have a desire to fit in and to belong, but in some cases, you would have to learn where to draw the line to maintain your individuality and your privacy.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Described by book connoisseurs as one of the Great American Novels, the Great Gatsby is an irresistible but ultimately heart-wrenching tale of a young man who struggles to pursue the love of a young woman. While this isn’t set in a college or university, the central theme of seeking love or approval through all the wrong means isn’t lost on students. It’s easy to get caught up in a façade we’ve built for ourselves a a coping mechanism, but eventually, we all have to wake up and smell the coffee.
Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
You can say that entering college or university is your first step into “adulting,” and for that, you can’t miss out on one of Franz Kafka’s great stories – if not the greatest. Kafka’s remarkable storytelling style takes you inside the head of Gregor Samsa, who is transforming into a human-sized insect in his sleep. As the title suggests, “Metamorphosis” can stand in for that phase in one’s life that is strange and unfamiliar while everyone around you seems to stay the same. Sounds like first day of your college or university class, isn’t it?
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