Which YA Books Set in College Should You Pack for Freshman Year?
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Whether you’re almost a college student, looking for a bookish gift for a student headed to college, or enjoy reading YA books set in college, you’ll love this list of college-based YA books!
Heading off to college is a major milestone, so it’s no surprise that there are a lot of YA books that feature characters either dreaming of college or about to pack up and head off on a college adventure. Our list of YA books set in college includes realistic fiction, romance, and thrillers. There’s something for every college-bound reader.
Realistic YA Fiction Set in College
These titles tackle the more serious side of the college experience, from coping with prejudice, harassment, or mental health issues at college to feeling guilt over leaving a difficult family situation.
Savannah always put her high school studies above her social life. She’d planned to attend a historically Black college, but when she won a full scholarship to the elite Wooddale University, she found it hard to say no. Savannah is still setting up her Wooddale dorm room when she starts to feel seriously out of place. After a prominent statue on campus is vandalized with blackface, Savannah begins digging into the racism and elitism in Wooddale’s history. But what’s the price for standing up for what is right?
In 1990s San Jose, Jane is punished by Phúc, her Vietnamese-born dad, for forgetting to pick up her seven-year-old brother Paul from school. Jane knows her father is angry because at the end of the summer she’s going to leave him to go to college.
In 1979 Đà Nẵng, a young Phúc walks through a field of landmines and battle debris to reach a refugee boat. This is the beginning of Phúc’s perilous trip across the Pacific, a journey only half the passengers will survive.
Told in the alternating voices of Jane and Phúc, My Father, the Panda Killer is an unflinching story about war and its impact across multiple generations, and how one American teenager forges a path toward accepting her heritage and herself.
It’s Florence Hills High School seniors’ last hurrah before graduation, and this party is going to be epic! Drama will unfold, kisses will be swapped, animals will roam free, and secrets will be spilled. House Party offers a delightful snapshot of diverse classmates getting ready to say goodbye to high school and hello to life’s next chapter—but not before they make their final night together one they’ll never forget!
Ten bestselling, critically acclaimed authors deliver a fresh novel of interconnected stories that follows a group of young adults over the course of a few wild, transformative hours at this epic house party.
Lulu Li has her last summer before college all planned out. But her plans go awry when she learns that Kite Xu, her old next-door neighbor, will be returning home from South Korea. Lulu hasn’t seen Kite since he left home to join the K-pop group Karnival. Starstruck Lulu reconnects with Kite, but as they reminisce over the past, Kite’s sister warns Lulu not to get too close to her brother. The harder Lulu tries to deny her feelings, the stronger they get. Is there any way for a relationship between a K-pop star and an ordinary girl not to end but badly?
You’ll love these thrilling YA books featuring crime-fighting students headed to college or mystery and intrigue at college! If you’re all about a true-crime podcast, you’ll find some great additions to your bookshelf!
This bestselling series started with One of Us Is Lying, about a group of college-bound students from Bayview, California, who are accused of murder. Book two, One of Us Is Next, introduced a new Bayview Crew who is also forced to play a deadly game of truth or dare. Now this third book, One of Us Is Back,reunites all the characters (both high school and college-age) to face a diabolical new enemy.
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder features high school student Pippa Fitz-Ambobi. For her senior class project, Pippa chooses to investigate a tragic local case: a fellow high school student who was murdered by her boyfriend five years ago. But the more Pip delves into the case, the more she wonders if justice was served. In book two, Good Girl, Bad Blood, Pippa starts her own podcast and tries to help find a missing person. In book three, As Good as Dead, Pip is headed to college but things take a very dark turn as she receives death threats and fights to see justice served.