With summer in full swing, the students at your school have likely already been assigned summer reading to help them continue to learn and engage their minds over the summer.

Summer reading is a great way to prepare students and get them ready to jump back into their education in the fall. But what about you? We compiled a list of top reads for admission and enrollment leaders so you can join in the fun.

One of the hardest parts about picking up your next book is knowing where to start, or which books will be worth your investment. That’s why we compiled a summer reading list for you from some highly influential leaders in the private and independent school space so you know the book you choose will be worth your while. 

Here are the books they recommend to help you grow and prepare for a great year ahead:

1. Atomic Habits by James Clear 

Recommended by: Dana Nelson-Isaacs, Founder and President of DNI Consulting

summer reading list recommendation

“Atomic Habits is full of gems, but one of my favorites is the idea that our habits define us, so if we start to think about who we want to be, and then behave in support of that identity, we’re on the right track. For example, if I want to be “someone who is healthy”, I need to do the things that healthy people do. Small wins support the effort and build on themselves, leading to success.”


2. Finding the Right Message by Jennifer Havice

Recommended by: Emily Cretella, Content marketer, strategist, and copywriter for independent schools at Cursive Content

recommended summer reading for private school leader

“This is my go-to, secret-weapon resource for creating online content that truly appeals to a school’s dream families. With most aspects of admissions now happening online, having a strong online story is more important than ever. This book is less than 100 pages long, so no excuses!”

“The best messages come directly from your ideal prospects and customers. In fact, the starting point for every piece of copy  you write must be the thoughts swirling around in the heads of those people.”


3. How to Drive Your Competition Crazy by Guy Kawasaki

Recommended by: Jesse Roberts, CEO at Admission Pro

private school reading list

“A book that I have rediscovered during this time period is ‘How to Drive Your Competition Crazy’ by Guy Kawasaki. There are several pieces to this book that I love, but if nothing else, it’s got me thinking more about the number one tenet: Know thyself – before you can drive your competition crazy, you have to know what your company stands for. When it comes to schools, knowing “who” you are is as important for “who” you server and “why” you serve them. It’s a nuanced point, but it makes a big difference. In this age where we are seeing schools teetering on the edge of financial trouble, it’s important to focus on our client base…the families. By turning them into evangelists, schools can stay sustainable. The book was written in 1995, and it still holds true today. Guy has a great story, as he was the original product evangelist for Mac by Apple. That, in itself, is a great story.”


4. Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America by R. Eric Thomas

Recommended by: Renée M. Chung, Associate Director of Admissions & Financial Aid at The Spence School 

“R. Eric’s essays are funny, heartfelt, genuine, and thought-provoking. Addressing themes of identity, his educational experiences–first at a progressive independent school and then at an Ivy League university–R. Eric offers us a powerful vision for the future when you put yourself at the center of your story. This book was particularly powerful for me as an admissions professional because the focus of my work often focuses on empowering students and families who have not historically had access to an independent school education. All of our schools have students like Thomas, the book begs the question–what are we doing to not only admit them but to ensure they are having the most inclusive experience throughout their time.


5. Gifts From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Recommended by: Alisa Evans, Managing Partner at Mission Enrollment Strategy Solutions, LLC

“We are part of such a unique industry that has a large population of women leading it that I think this would help young and old women alike as we face this next year and decade ahead. Gifts From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh was written 60 years ago but still rings relevant today. This is a book that I have read many times over the course of the last 20 years. As a new chapter in my life comes, I find myself reading it again and looking for inspiration or answers. It was most meaningful when I became a mother for the first time. When I started my own business for the second time after a failed business a decade before. Each time this book provides me with peace.”

“Don’t wish me happiness, I don’t expect to be happy all the time…It’s gotten beyond that somehow. Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor. I will need them all.”


6. Brands and BullS**t: Excel at the Former and Avoid the Latter. A Branding Primer for Millennial Marketers in a Digital Age by Bernhard Schroeder

Recommended by: Trevor Waddington, Principal at Truth Tree Consulting

“The book clearly separates branding from marketing. For schools that suffer from identity crises to ones caught up in daily tactics used to entice families to inquire, apply, and enroll, it gives a very modern and in-your-face blueprint to develop a sticky digital brand.”


7. Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach To Customer Service by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon M. Bowles

Recommended by: Brandi Eppolito, VP of Marketing at SchoolAdmin

summer reading for private school leaders

“While this book is on the older side (originally published in 1993), its message still resonates today: ‘Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create Raving Fans.’ It’s a good reminder for your entire staff and faculty that no matter what we call it, at the end of the day we’re all in the business of creating amazing experiences for our students and families.”


8. Be Our Guest by Theodore Kinni  

Recommended by: Monica Sullivan, Director of Admissions at Nerinx Hall

“Last summer I took the methodology from the book Be Our Guest by Theodore Kinni and applied it to my Student Ambassador and shadow day program. I shared the presentation with my faculty so they understood the methods behind my approach. The book emphasizes the importance of not just meeting a guest’s expectations – but exceeding them. While we may not quite be Disneyland – we can all strive to provide the highest level of service to our prospective families who are our customers.”


9. The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias by Dolly Chugh

Recommended by: Claire Hollowell, Content Marketing Coordinator at SchoolAdmin

“The message of this book is particularly impactful in light of the world we live in today. This book is evidence-based and focuses on how you can ‘battle bias, champion diversity and inclusion, and advocate for those who lack power and privilege’.  While not specifically focused on the education sector, the message of the book remains impactful and applicable to schools. As you work to create a welcoming and successful school or company,  you have to fight for inclusion at every step and stage of your admissions process (or hiring process). This is a great book to help you start, or help you continue, to drive your efforts forward.”

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