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The Gatekeepers : Inside the Admissions…

The Gatekeepers : Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College (edition 2003)

by Jacques Steinberg, Ralph Figueroa (Contributor), William Mercer (Photographer)

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267542,587 (3.64)12
Title:The Gatekeepers : Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College
Authors:Jacques Steinberg (Author)
Other authors:Ralph Figueroa (Contributor), William Mercer (Photographer)
Info:New York : Viking. 2003, c2002. 22 cm. ; 290 p.
Collections:Your library, Ether, Nonfiction
Tags:nonfiction, education, colleges, universities, admissions, 1990s, 1999, philosophy, psychology, schools, families, students, professors, Connecticut, travel, from Bookmooch, medium paperback

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The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College by Jacques Steinberg


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Unlike other college books that are intended to be "how to's", The Gatekeepers puts human faces on both the kids and the college admissions personnel who have vested interests in the process. Beginning in 1999, Jacques Steinberg of the New York Times, was given unfettered access to both a select group of high school seniors and the admissions department of Wesleyan University. It is through their eyes that he observes the selection process for that year.
What is most moving about this book is that way that Steinberg shows us how agonizing and personal the process is for both sides of this process. Steinberg is a terrific writer and gives us the back stories of each "character". In doing so, his book makes for captivating reading. We want to know more about these individuals.I found myself rooting for some of these kids as they begin to struggle for a place in the world. More than anything else, the book reinforces that this is a very human process, in which individuals on both sides of the "gate" bring his or her own hopes and dreams.
By shining a very personal light on the applications process, the book also underscores the more universal concerns of both colleges and and students including access to education and the issue of fairness in the process.
I don't know that I would have read the book if the issue wasn't something that was close to home right now, but it is a compelling read and there were many occasions when I had to control the lump in my throat.
The edition of the book I read contains an afterword that updates us on all the individuals who were profiled (both the admissions personnel and the students) and after we had come to know these people during this fixed time period of their lives, it was heartwarming to read about their place in the world today. ( )
  plt | Mar 22, 2013 |
This nonfiction book reads like a work of fiction. It's not cold and dry nor presented too factually. The author shadows a college admissions recruiter through the process at Wesleyan. Interjecting enough humanity into the decision making process. Whether you have vested interest in someone involved in the process of admission or not, this is a good read. ( )
  thebooky | Sep 26, 2012 |
This is truly a fascinating book, from a collegiate standpoint. Being a college student with a prospect of transferring, I was attuned to the novel since many of the cases shed light upon a seemingly curious and ineffable admission system.

The previous comment is correct; this book is not a guide on how to score a spot in a premier college. Rather, it informs the readers on how certain outliers can amount to a contributing factor in the evaluating process. For example, race and socioeconomic status play a substantial factor in regarding the applicant's academic success and his caliber.

I was however impressed by the veracity and entranced by the writing style. The book is fluid and engaging, more to some than others however. The book stays true with reality by showing numerous instances of the applicants. The readers get to see what's hidden on the backstage. Truly an impressive piece :) ( )
  haebitchan | Aug 29, 2011 |
Good description of now admissions works, how subjective the decisions are. However, not a how-to-get-in book. ( )
  karenzukor | Jul 18, 2010 |
COLLEGE by Jacques Steinberg, Viking Press, September 2002

Mom told me that I should apply to Harvard. She was hoping I'd attend a
prestigious institution like Tony, the oldest cousin on my Sicilian side,
who'd graduated from Notre Dame and gone to work for IBM. Mom also told me
to study Real Estate and get a business degree so that I could then come back
home and continue to work with Dad. I'd grown up on the jobs with him: first
when he just had the plumbing business, and later when it evolved into a
booming residential construction company. And, while I'd seen Love Story,
and thus knew what Harvard was all about, it didn't seem to me worth all that
money for an undergraduate education when I didn't know yet what it was that
I really wanted to do. My parents? Not having any experience, they knew
less about colleges and picking one than I did. I ended up attending UConn.

Nowadays, I sometimes consider how I might have instead applied to Berkley,
where the radical heroes of my adolescence had taken their stances. But the
reality is, UConn really was a pretty good fit. I was able to easily
succeed; graduating in three years allowed me to more quickly begin my first
career as Environmental Activist. Logistically, I was just the perfect
distance from home that I could occasionally hitch hike down there but never
had to fear that my parents might show up for a surprise visit. And, thanks
to good fortune/dumb luck, I got to take those two intimate-sized,
life-altering semesters of Freshman Composition with Ann Beattie.

It's exactly thirty years since I applied to UConn--chosen essentially (and
haphazardly) because it happened to offer a major in Real Estate--and Shari
and I have been occasionally discussing taking our daughter Katie, the
diligent eighth-grade student and writer, on a scenic trip to check out the
elite, name-brand universities of New England. But other than my continued
assumptions that high SAT scores, some extracurricular activities, and the
right high school classes could strengthen the possibilities of acceptance at
those schools, I have really known little about the process by which they
choose who passes through those hallowed gates (ivy-covered or otherwise).

THE GATE-KEEPERS is an illuminating and entertaining behind-the-scenes look
at the admissions process at Wesleyan, one of the better-known American
universities and a member of that elite group of institutions where they
annually turn away the large majority of those who apply for admission. The
author, who is the national education correspondent for the New York Times,
shadows admissions officer Ralph Figueroa, as he travels out to high schools
and prep schools around the country, holds introductory sessions for SRO
crowds on campus, meets with his coworkers, and spends endless hours studying
his share of the year's seven-thousand applications, each of which needs to
be read by at least two admissions officers. The author, who had the full
cooperation of Wesleyan, as well as that of a selection of students who we
watch going through the process (real names, backgrounds, and essay excerpts
included) weaves a fascinating tale of how human judgment calls--often based
on the lives of the admissions people themselves--and those mountains of
numbers and checked boxes meld into the thousands of decisions on who gets
what they want and who doesn't.

By following Ralph through the book, middle and high school students will get
a good sense of what they want to be doing, years in advance, if they want to
really keep their college options as open as possible. The students' stories
will both inspire and send warning signals. The book will also make teens
aware of what are many of those elite schools.

But THE GATE-KEEPERS is also the story of Ralph Figueroa, the son of
immigrants, whose background and upbringing has led him to forego the
lucrative opportunities offered by the law degree he'd earned to instead take
his hectic, modestly paying position at Wesleyan where he helps play God to
the diverse thousands of young adults whose lives will undoubtedly be
different based on what he thinks about their application.

THE GATE-KEEPERS will also make a great complementary bookend for students to
the recently released CATALYST by Laurie Halse Anderson. (CATALYST might
have been a much different story if Kate Malone had gotten to read THE
GATE-KEEPERS before applying.)

Richie Partington
BudNotBuddy at aol.com ( )
  richiespicks | May 27, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142003085, Paperback)

In the fall of 1999, New York Times education reporter Jacques Steinberg was given an unprecedented opportunity to observe the admissions process at prestigious Wesleyan University. Over the course of nearly a year, Steinberg accompanied admissions officer Ralph Figueroa on a tour to assess and recruit the most promising students in the country. The Gatekeepers follows a diverse group of prospective students as they compete for places in the nation's most elite colleges. The first book to reveal the college admission process in such behind-the-scenes detail, The Gatekeepers will be required reading for every parent of a high school-age child and for every student facing the arduous and anxious task of applying to college.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:57:03 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

From the fall of 1999 to the spring of 2000, New York Times education reporter Jacques Steinberg was given unparalleled access to an entire admissions season at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. In that time, he discovered just how difficult it could be to winnow down a list of nearly seven thousand applicants to seven hundred freshmen for the class of 2004. Steinberg follows an admissions officer and his eight counterparts through the daunting task of recruiting students nationwide, reading through each of their applications, and meeting behind closed doors for a week in March to finalize the incoming class. He also recounts the personal experiences of a half dozen high school seniors of various ethnic and economic backgrounds as they struggle through the often byzantine selection process. Find out why: high SATs and many extracurricular activities are not always critical a student's "story" can either be helpful or detrimental one student with a 1480 SAT score and high grades can face stiff competition from another three thousand miles away whose board score is 900 and who has a handful of Ds on her report card an officer peering into the application pool is often most excited to see a reflection of him-or herself staring back The Gatekeepers is a suspenseful, highly readable account that moves from the applicant's high schools to the admissions office and back again to the student's homes, as the academic futures of thousands of young people hang in the balance.… (more)

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