Mother-daughter duo publish book on navigating, and enjoying, college admissions

Janelle Clausen
Jill and Amanda Madenberg, a mother-daughter duo, released a book on Aug. 1 on how to survive the college admissions process - and love it. (Photos courtesy of Sherry Horowitz)

For a long time, Jill Madenberg, a private college admissions counselor from Great Neck, said she had thought of giving more families a way to get personalized advice about college admissions.

Her daughter Amanda, meanwhile, had applied to a number of colleges – a process she enjoyed – but both saw that her friends and other students were stressed.

“When I was finishing the college process midway through senior year of high school, I thought about how much I was going to miss the college search, and how that feeling was so different from those I knew most of my friends were having,” Amanda Madenberg said via email.

The result was Jill and Amanda Madenberg writing a book, “Love the Journey to College: Guidance from an Admissions Consultant and Her Daughter.” Released on Aug. 1, the book comes out at a time when many seniors are mulling over the college applications process, what kind of essay they should write, and what schools to apply to.

“Applying to college should be a mostly joyful process,” Jill Madenberg, principal at Madenberg College Consulting in Lake Success, said in an interview.

The book fuses the perspectives of a student and counselor to try to demystify the college admissions process and make it fun. In some ways, the Madenbergs said, the book acts as a sort of guidance counselor talking to an individual with concrete advice and personal stories.

“Guidance counselors are often doing triage throughout the day. Their caseloads are big,” Jill Madenberg, a former guidance counselor in New Hyde Park who grew up in Roslyn, said. “The average counselor has hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of students in their caseload.”

The co-authors said that some key advice found throughout the book is to be authentic, organized and remember that there are thousands of colleges that can help one succeed. It also advises people that while there is a process to go through, there isn’t one set way to be accepted.

“A lot of families see some formulaic way,” said Jill Madenberg, who has advised students for more than 20 years and visited hundreds of colleges.

Amanda, now a student at Cornell University, recalled a few stories she put into the book. Rather than writing her college essay about a colossal life-changing event, Amanda said she wrote about a “difficult conversation” she’d had with a camper.

“Many people have the misconception that a good college essay needs to focus on some enormous life event, sickness or death within immediate family, or some superb accomplishment,” Amanda said.

She also wrote about the implications of being a college counselor’s daughter – namely, when someone said to her, “Well of course you already know where you’re going. Which school?”

“I told this story to make a point that just like everyone else, I had to have my own discovery throughout the college process,” Amanda said.

It is unclear if the two intend to write a second book. Amanda said she wants to write another book on a different topic in the future and that she’s considering going into her mother’s field, while Jill Madenberg said a second book is not off the table.

“For right now, I’m going to enjoy this journey that I’m on with my daughter,” Jill Madenberg said.

The pair will have a book signing on Monday, Aug. 14, at 7 p.m. at Book Revue, at 313 New York Ave. in Huntington. Anyone interested in purchasing the book, published by Post Hill Press, can do so on Amazon.

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