Standing Out, Getting In, and Staying Sane While Applying to College
by Becky Munsterer Sabky
We are now entering the stressful season for rising junior and seniors in high school. These teens often believe that their worth is intimately bound up in where they will go to college. They also often face (way too much) pressure from parents about where they ought to go and what they ought to do there. It can be a very difficult rite of passage.
The author of this guide to admissions has a good sense of what is involved on many levels of this process. About twenty years after her applications were submitted, she still remembers what it was like not to be admitted to Dartmouth. She tells readers that she ultimately went to her fifth choice school, Colby College. At the time, Ms. Sabky took this to mean that there was something wrong with her. But…guess what, she still managed to thrive in college. This is what she wants for her readers.
Ms. Sabky has also worked in college admissions and brings that perspective to this guide. And guess what (again), after working at St. Lawrence, she went on to work in admissions at Dartmouth.
The book opens with a description of a meeting to review student applications. Many may find the way it was run to be somewhere between horrid and ridiculous. It does show, however, that admissions officers make decisions in a way that can be a bit capricious. To me this means that, if a student does not get into a given school, it can and will hurt but that trying to find a meaningful reason of the decision may just lead to unnecessary soul searching. I take from this that the same student will be admitted to one school only to be deferred from another equally “good” school. The process is to serve the school’s needs; if they can serve the student as well, that is good but that is not their motivation.
This book has a lot of practical information about applying to college. It also includes a plethora of anecdotes about students and the work of admissions officers.
This book will be valued by those who are looking for a personal account from admissions and are willing to accept the process can be flawed. Some may feel discouraged however. The author’s intended takeaway is that there is a good school for a student even if it was not their first choice school. It is clear that she felt good about Colby and feels that, for her, things worked out well. She wants this for others.
So, read this book if you are brave enough. It is helpful.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.