Inside the Admissions Process of A Premier College
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.
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.
New York : Viking, 2002
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292 pages ; 24 cm