Daily Archives: October 5, 2009

Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Admission tells the story of the failing marriage of an admission officer at Princeton set against a season of admission work, sifting through applications to find the lucky special high school seniors that will be deemed worthy to attend the university. The heroine appears to have a need, especially at dinner parties, to channel the Q&As on college web sites to justify her work  (why not just admit that apart from basic academic credentials the bulk of the selection process is, well, a judgement call?), she rags on Berkeley for no good reason (two demerits!), and the last third of the book hinges on a silly and amazing coincidence that makes the plot wholly unbelievable (and is not even necessary) but I enjoyed the book and the heroine both, even if I would have much preferred the story minus its contrived ending.

I would recommend the book to anyone who is curious about college admissions. It’s much more fun than the dreadfully practical books written by ex-admission officers (the author is an ex-admission officer!) and, in my mind, just as informative as the several others I have read on the topic, from what happens during school visits to the relationships between admission officers and college counselors, to how to create a good application. One of the fun features of the book is that each chapter starts with a quote from an application essay, most of them miserably bad and funny.

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