The Gatekeepers

The Gatekeepers

Inside the Admissions Process of A Premier College

Book - 2002
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Penguin Putnam
From the fall of 1999 to the spring of 2000, New York Times education reporter Jacques Steinberg was given unparalleled access to an entire admissions season at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. In that time, he discovered just how difficult it could be to winnow down a list of nearly seven thousand applicants to seven hundred freshmen for the class of 2004.

Steinberg follows an admissions officer and his eight counterparts through the daunting task of recruiting students nationwide, reading through each of their applications, and meeting behind closed doors for a week in March to finalize the incoming class.

He also recounts the personal experiences of a half dozen high school seniors of various ethnic and economic backgrounds as they struggle through the often byzantine selection process. Find out why:

* high SATs and many extracurricular activities are not always critical
* a student's "story" can either be helpful or detrimental
* one student with a 1480 SAT score and high grades can face stiff competition from another three thousand miles away whose board score is 900 and who has a handful of Ds on her report card
* an officer peering into the application pool is often most excited to see a reflection of him- or herself staring back

Baker & Taylor
A revealing study of the college admissions process sheds light on the inside workings of America's "meritocracy," focusing on SAT scores, student essays, transcripts, and other factors vital in the process. 35,000 first printing.

Blackwell North Amer
There are few more unnerving rites of passage in America today than the process of applying to college, for at almost no other time in young people's lives do they face a decision that they perceive will have as profound an effect on their futures. Over the last two decades the competition to gain admission to a top-tier school has grown ever more intense as the pedigree these schools confer becomes increasingly significant in the job and graduate school markets. This competitiveness has helped generate a range of businesses, from SAT-preparation courses to counseling services to shelves of college guidebooks and to U.S. News & World Report's highly influential annual college rankings issue.
The Gatekeepers opens in the fall semester as Steinberg accompanies the central figure of the book, admissions officer Ralph Figueroa, on his annual sales trip around the country as he presents the case for Wesleyan to groups of high school seniors while assessing the most talented among them. In the course of Ralph's travels we meet a number of prospective Wesleyan students whom we will follow through the course of the academic year, during which they compete for places in the nation's most elite colleges. There is Julianna Bentes, a gifted multiracial student on scholarship at an exclusive Los Angeles prep school who is pursued as ardently as any pitching prodigy would be in the major leagues; Becca Jannol, who broke a cardinal rule as a high school sophomore and then took the risk of writing about what she learned from the experience in her college essays; Migizi Pensoneau, a Native American who has overcome a poor educational record to successfully attend a progressive, experimental school in New Mexico; Jordan Goldman, an ambitious Staten Island writer for whom attending an Ivy League school has been a lifelong dream; and Aggie Ramirez, a Dominican who has already shown herself to be a natural leader but whose grades have suffered in the process.
Because Steinberg has had the cooperation of the Wesleyan staff, the students, and their teachers and advisers, we are able to follow the admission process in every detail - from the initial reading of the applicants' essays to the final, often contentious meetings at which their fates will be decided. The Gatekeepers will be required reading for every parent of a high school age child and for every student who is facing the arduous and anxious task of applying to college. Never before has this mysterious process been revealed with such clarity, such insight, and such drama.

& Taylor

A revealing study of the college admissions process sheds light on the inside workings of America's "meritocracy," focusing on SAT scores, student essays, transcripts, and other factors vital in the process.

Publisher: New York : Viking, 2002
ISBN: 9780670031351
Branch Call Number: 378.161 STEIN
Characteristics: 292 pages ; 24 cm


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Oct 09, 2015

I attended Wesleyan University as a graduate student in 1991-1992. Scores of students there struck me as being anti-intellectual, crass, very materialistic, smug hypocrites. Like the vast majority of other Western post-secondary institutions for higher learning, Wes had a Neo-Marxist speech code that allowed (and still does allow) Asians, Blacks, the BGLAD crowd, Latinos, and other (allegedly) powerless peoples to physically and verbally attack Whites (especially heterosexual White males of Northwestern European Descent) at will. European-Americans who dared talk back were either expelled or threatened with expulsion. The ethos at school was so stifling and comical that a gay acquaintance of mine at Wes penned a screenplay entitled "P.C.U." that starred David Spade of Saturday Night Live and other stars of the big screen.

May 03, 2014

This is a really interesting, enlightening and informative book. I knew that the admissions process had changed since the time that I applied to college (30 years ago), but this really gives you the history and evolution of the process as it is now, though I'm sure it has evolved even more since this was published. It was recommended to me by another parent after we were disappointed that our daughter did not get into both her parents' alma mater, despite her being a stellar student. I highly recommend it anyone who will eventually have kids that will face the college application process.


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