Don’t judge a book by its cover…

While I was initially taken aback by this message above that I received over the holiday break, I was not surprised. A friend of mine in administration at one of the top schools in the country, sent it to me and was equally disappointed. They aimed to use the book to help recruit Black students to their university. However, this book, my book, was being taken as a possible divisive threat to other institutional priorities.

“Really?”

It’s a shame that we are living at a time when the mention of “Black” immediately causes some people to shut down. Ideas and opportunities are being “canceled” instead of allowing for thoughts and ideas to be shared. “Keeping an open mind” has been a consistent tenet of higher education, yet here we are with too many people being hesitant to learn or possibly benefit from a conversation.

The book’s title is intentional: my co-author and I are Black educators who are seasoned admissions professionals and have information to share. However, more than 70% of the book applies to anyone applying to college. Remove the words “Black” and “race,” and it reads “The Family’s Guide to College Admissions: A Conversation about Education and Parenting.” Let’s not allow two words to scare you!

Yes, there is an emphasis in the book that considers how race still plays a factor in the educational experience of many students. It also highlights the power and prestige of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and how, for centuries, they have been – and will continue to be – at the foundation of students’ post-secondary education in America. I would argue that everyone should be aware of these topics, not just those who identify as Black.

As we prepare for the release of the 2nd edition, we want to assure everyone, this book is meant to be a resource not only for Black families and students but also for educators and allies. We want more people to understand the complexity of the educational options and opportunities available to Black students. We want to expand the “conversation about education, parenting, and race” to include the impact of the Supreme Court decision on all students; how we all need to prioritize students’ mental health in this process; and how essays and AI will impact college admission moving forward.

No matter who you are, we hope you will not let the title prohibit you from considering this important resource. Our goal in writing this book has always been to encourage a more extensive conversation. We don’t profess to have all the answers, but we do want to keep all those involved in the college admission process well-informed and prepared.

Written by Timothy Fields for Understanding the Choices

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