cover image Game On: Why College Admission Is Rigged and How to Beat the System

Game On: Why College Admission Is Rigged and How to Beat the System

Susan F. Paterno. St. Martin’s, $28.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-62264-8

Journalist Paterno (coauthor, Talk Straight, Listen Carefully) delivers a witty and informative deep dive into the “college admissions industrial complex.” Combining ample research with lessons learned from her own “stumbling” attempts to get four children into college, Paterno documents widespread corruption in the largely unregulated field of private admissions counseling, and explains how U.S. News & World Report’s annual college rankings pushed the competition to get into America’s wealthiest, most selective universities into overdrive. Paterno also investigates the standardized test preparation industry, highlighting the “shameful truth” that “scores correlate with income,” and describes how the Reagan administration’s free-market ethos and cuts to financial aid programs contributed to skyrocketing tuition costs (private college’s tuition is up more than 800% since 1980). Paterno’s tips for saving money on application fees and appealing financial aid decisions don’t amount to a methodology for “beat[ing] the system,” but her cogent advice is enriched by careful research and flashes of humor (“Pinpointing why elite colleges accept or reject students is like finding a kitten on a volcano at night with a flashlight”). Parents looking for a commonsense perspective on the admissions process will appreciate this accessible account. (June)