YA Set In College | A Growing (& Needed) Trend

Posted April 11, 2018 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Features / 20 Comments

One thing that ALWAYS thrills me as a reader and blogger is coming across a YA books set in college. There’s just really not enough, and it’s such an important, formative time in the young adult experience. I’ve seen a lot of NA books set in college however they’re usually super romance focused and not as focused on the actual college transition. I decided to round up some of my favorite YA books with college settings and note some of the elements of the college experience they include.

American Panda | Just One Day | Frat Girl | Fangirl

While I enjoyed all four of these books immensely, these recommendations aren’t perfect- they all focus on freshman year and I haven’t been able to find YA books that look beyond the first year of college (and from my experience there a LOT that changes over the course of four years). However, given YA usually features teen protagonists, I can see the appeal/reasoning of only featuring characters fresh out of high school.

Do you have more recommendations for YA books in a college setting? Have you read any that are set past the freshman year of college? Let me know in the comments!

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20 responses to “YA Set In College | A Growing (& Needed) Trend

  1. Great post Cristina! Its so true that its great to see more YA set in college & I love what you said about not being able to find “YA books that look beyond the first year of college.” That’s something I never really considered. Love the post! ^_^

  2. I’ve read all of these except Frat Girl and totally loved all of them! Definitely adding Frat Girl to my TBR if you’ve clubbed it with the others.

  3. YES!!! I need more college YA!!! When I first found out about NA, I was SO excited because I thought it was going to YA in college– obviously, I was majorly disappointed when I found out exactly what it was. Romance with bad boys is NOT for me.

    You’ve got to read FINDING FELICITY by Stacey Kade!! It’s about Freshman Year, so I guess not exactly what you were looking for, but it is such a good “moving to college and figuring out your place” book!

    • Right?! That’s exactly what I thought NA would be too (or even focused a bit on the post-college experience as well) but then it became totally over saturated with romance (and you’re right, often with bay boy romances or student/professor romances, sigh). I’ve seen a LOT of great things about Finding Felicity, however I never watched the Felicity tv show so I’m worried a lot of references will go over my head!

  4. I really don’t have a lot of recommendations about books set in college that aren’t majorly romance-focused. This is an issue that has to do with the fact that NA has become another word for erotica for young adults. Not that there’s anything wrong with sex in books or that we should shame those books. Some are really fun. But there’s so much more potential there!

    • Completely agree! When NA first became a thing, I was SO excited, I thought I’d get a slew of YA type books that were set in college, or even books that were set AFTER college about the whole “I’ve graduated but now what do I do with my life” experience, which I think impacts a LOT of people in their early 20s! (An age group I would honestly still consider Young Adults). But then the genre just got overwhelmed with romance (and not super well written romance, either IMO) and so far I still haven’t found anything that really encompasses what I was looking for!

  5. I had a hard time thinking of any that were beyond freshman year, but I loved Fangirl (the only one of these I’ve read) precisely because it explored starting college. I totally agree- we need more college YA!!! And stories that take place later in college or even graduate work. I know some might say that’s NA territory but I think NA (fairly or not) has sorta gotten a reputation for being kind of sexytime- ish, which is fine, but I think that turns some readers off, who want more of a Fangirl- type read? So yeah… more college YA!!!

    • YES I would love books about grad school! I thought about grad school a LOT and I think it would be a super interesting setting because you have people enrolled from all different times of life- recent undergrads, people going back to school after having a career, etc. NA totally has just been slammed with the romance element and while it’s not necessarily a bad things I’ve been disappointed by the college NA I’ve read because I feel like it really doesn’t explore the college setting- it’s almost more of a prop just so the romance can happen *sigh*

  6. I’ve got quite a few, but a couple I haven’t read. First, The Melody of You and Me takes place after freshman year I think, as does Let’s Talk About Love. Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions by Six de Los Reyes is really amazing, and it takes place during grad school. Then there are Colleen Hoover’s reads, which I hate a lot, but they take place during college. The Summer I Turned Pretty takes place partly in college, but the first book is right after high school I think. Chemistry by Weike Wang takes place during grad school too I think. And Dhalia Adler’s Raleigh University series takes place during college, but I can’t remember exactly when. I have a list on my blog that goes through all the NA books I’ve read. But not all of them take place during college.

    • OOoooh, thank you for these recommendations! I just added Beginner’s Guide to my TBR because I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set in grad school and I definitely need one in my life! I had no idea the summer I turned pretty series overlapped into college- for some reason I was always under the impression that those books were on the “younger” side of YA. I read the first book Dhalia Adler’s series, and while it was OK, I felt it still was a bit too romance focused for what I was looking for.

  7. YES!! Totally agree that more YA needs to be set in college. That is such an interesting time for people. And you are so right they all take place in freshman year. Fangirl was so good. I need to read Just One Day and Frat Girl. They sound like ones I would like.

    • I really thing you’d like both of those! I just feel like college is still such a part of the “young adult” experience and there are a million contemporary YA books that take place during high school, so a college setting could be a really fresh twist- and readers who start reading YA in high school can grow along with the genre as they transition to college.

  8. I think I would include We Are Still Tornadoes. I loved that book with all my heart, and it deals with that first year after high school. One character went to college, while one went right into the workforce. I Hate Everyone But You could also fall into this category, and Finding Felicity definitely fits.

    • Ohhh I’ve never heard of We Are Still Tornadoes, I’m going to check it out right now! I feel like I’m getting such great recommendations in the comments section of this post and I’m wondering why these books aren’t more well known!

  9. I love this post! I really wish there were more YA books set in college – I get that YA usually has a teen protagonist, but I think it could still focus on the later years of college. My college life would certainly be more YA than NA haha. Definitely going to check out the three books you mentioned apart from Fangirl, which I’ve already read 🙂

    • Haha I’m right there with you with my college experience being more YA than NA…especially since a lot of NA really just reads as college romance with professors from what I’ve read, which definitely is not the average person’s experience LOL.

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