cover image Who Gets in and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions

Who Gets in and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions

Jeffrey Selingo. Scribner, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-1-982116-29-3

Education journalist Selingo (There Is Life After College) examines “what it takes to get into a selective college today” in this comprehensive and ultimately reassuring account. Interweaving a behind-the-scenes look at how counselors at Davidson College, Emory University, and the University of Washington make their admissions decisions with profiles of three high school students in the midst of their college searches, Selingo concludes that where applicants end up “hinges largely on criteria beyond their control.” Admissions officers, he explains, balance complex formulations involving “yield” (even at “top colleges,” only one-third to half of admitted students actually enroll) and selectivity (which plays a significant role in determining a school’s ranking), while giving special consideration to athletes, legacies, and class diversity. He classifies students as “drivers” or “passengers” based on their approach to the college search, and offers practical advice, such as applying to three or four schools in each of three categories (“safety,” “foundational,” and “reach”). Selingo also sketches the history of college marketing tactics and the rising influence of big data on financial aid decisions, and delivers the calming message that “success in college is about how you go, not just where you go.” Anxious parents and students will be buoyed by this richly detailed and lucidly written guide. Agent: Gail Ross, Ross Yoon Agency. (Sept.)