Monday, June 3, 2013

Book Review - What You Don't Know Can Keep You Out of College

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About the Book
In the tradition of The Gatekeepers, a veteran counselor provides the missing key to the college admissions door with insider wisdom about how admissions committees think, and the thirteen fatal mistakes that can ruin an application.

When Don Dunbar was a college counselor for Phillips Academy, Andover, in the 1980s, he got to sit in on the meetings where the nation’s top colleges decided whether to admit his students. Prep school counselors no longer get this kind of astonishing access, but in those meetings, Don discovered a little-known key to college admissions that still holds true today. Many applicants look alike, based on their grades, test scores, and extracurriculars, so colleges want something more: They want applicants with character.

Most of us know what character means, but not in the way that admissions officers define it. Admissions officers have tremendous integrity, and to them, character equals what a student will contribute to his or her community, good or bad, over the next four years. Don explains the concept of character in terms that high school students can understand, using examples from his thirty years of working with kids. He shows readers how to avoid the thirteen fatal character mistakes that even the brightest students make when applying to college and democratizes the admissions process, making his advice available to all students.

My Take on the Book
This was a book that was filled with a ton of advice particularly on how to write essays and how to do your best in the college interview process. Being someone that works in higher education, I found the advice to be sound. I will say that fewer campuses are using the on-campus interview lately, but that being said, the information shared is still good.

The author also talks about some of the mistakes that many students make in their applications and this information is also accurate from what I have seen in applications in the past and currently.

The book is written in such a way that all readers can understand and it is practical enough that you can see what needs to be done to prepare yourself well for the college application process.

Much of the information that is shared is done so through prose and not lists as you may find in other books. While I do not think this is negative, with today's generation of college bound students reading this, some lists would probably have helped to streamline the most important information.

Overall, the book gives the reader some great insights into the selective admissions processes at some institutions. From what I can tell through reading this and knowing colleges out there, the person that will most benefit from this is probably going to be considering a liberal arts institution - as these are the ones that I know that are still heavily using essays and interviews.

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