Angst! Hmmm. Sounds like an SAT word to The College Whisperer.

Okay. Let's call it stress, the kind that churns the gut of every high school senior and grays the hair of every parent of a college-bound student.

GPA. SAT. ACT. The alphabet soup of stressors. College Board. Two words that strike fear in the hearts and butterflies in the stomachs of every 17 year old. Applications. Essays. College interviews. Don't even talk about it. Your stress has stress, right?

There's an old maxim that says, "laughter is the best medicine." How very true! Laughter, it so happens, especially in the face of otherwise great anxiety, is also a fantastic stress reliever. [That and a gallon of Friendly's® Forbidden Chocolate ice cream!]

Now, The College Whisperer rarely encourages prospective college students to buy books or scour websites. In fact, quite the opposite, information overload being the iceberg that too often sinks even the most buoyant 12th grader. Still, every once in a while, a site and/or book comes along that is a must view/gotta read, and I'm about to land just such a one two punch right on your virtual jaws.

Admission Angst (the website) and Don't Stalk The Admissions Officer (the book) are wonderful collections of tales, wisecracks, innuendos, off-the-wall anecdotes, and, believe it or not (and you'd better believe it) useful information, spun with a humorous thread designed to tickle funny bones and ease tensions. [You can feel the muscles in your back unknot as you read...]

The brain child of Risa Lewak, MSEd, who proudly tells the world she is a former Admissions counselor who got sick of going to college fairs. [More on college fairs, and what you won't miss by staying away, in an upcoming blogpost.] She says on her website that she is "one of two people in the country who see college admissions and humor as a natural fit." [Make that one of three, Risa, as The College Whisperer is a charter member of that club!]

On her website, Risa brilliantly covers, with nuance and wit, such timely topics as Why Are Number 2 Pencils So Special? and provides a rather eclectic overview of the entire admissions process, from college tour guides to choosing an essay topic -- or not.

In her book, available on Amazon for $11.19 and at for an unbelievable $10.07 [alas, The College Whisperer gets no commission or royalty, nor will he share in the profits. He is, however, hard at work on the screenplay, and did pitch to the author a possible prequel, working title: What SAT Score Do I Need To Get Into Kaplan University?* (Yes. That Kaplan. The test-prep people. They have a university. Much of it on the Internet, including an online law school. Egads!)], this University of Pennsylvania grad (smart AND funny. Wow!) spins chapter and verse -- well, chapter, at least -- including The SAT versus the ACT: Which is More Evil? and the ever-popular Paying for College Without Getting Arrested.

The advice offered, while tongue in cheek (and sometimes, in your belly button) is right on, sprinkled with truisms ("the only voice that's important in the college decision-making is your own") and poignantly stating the obvious (to wit, that the college admissions process, with all of its attendant insanities and inanities, is absurd).

This is comic relief (think Robin Williams and Billy Crystal as your college tour guides) at its very best, at a time when you -- students and parents alike -- need it most. Both website and book are gems amidst the coal in the college admissions deep, dark mine. [Gee, I hope The College Whisperer gets quoted on the book's jacket. Do books still have jackets? Uh, not paperbacks. Sorry.]

Perhaps the best advice offered is that which The College Whisperer has been giving to students, parents, and his own daughters all along: Relax. You'll get into college. Maybe not your first choice, or even your second, but a great college, nonetheless. You will survive this tedious and sometimes sophomoric process, to find yourself stronger (if not a bit lighter in the wallet), bound for four spectacular years that you will remember fondly for the rest of your lives.

So, have fun with the admissions process (even stalk your guidance counselor. Heck, you'll never see him again, anyway! j/k). Okay, don't complete the Common App in crayon (is such a thing possible?), but as Risa Lewak so aptly concludes, "laugh at the absurdity of college admissions."

*Actually, you don't need the SAT to get into Kaplan University. WHAT? Kaplan takes the money of unassuming parents for their SAT prep courses, and doesn't even require the test for admission to its own university? Why, those sons of...

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer.
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