Several times a year a publisher will send me a book to review that relates to the college admissions process. I generally read these books but frankly don’t often review them because they aren’t something I would recommend to my readers.
I recently received a copy of the new book “College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step” written by Robin Mamlet and Christine VanDeVelde. I took notice because I recognized Robin as the former director of admissions at Swarthmore, Stanford and Sarah Lawence. This was someone who clearly knew what admissions was like, particularly at highly selective colleges.
In addition to the authors personal knowledge, they also include in the book advice from dozens of other deans of admissions.
This book is one that I can recommend for most students. The book is broken into 10 parts including:
Part I-The Big Picture
Part II-Getting Organized
Part III-Becoming College Bound
Part IV-Where to Apply
Part IX-Special Circumstances
At the beginning of each chapter there is a list of checkpoints, which is basically a quick outline of each of the important points of that chapter.
The step by step approach of the book is what makes it particularly helpful.
But, the book has a weakness. The authors assume that every student has great counseling in their high school. Well, that isn’t quite correct. The book acknowledges that many students don’t have adequate counseling but then discusses all of the help they will get from their high school counselor.
While some students will get proper counseling from their high school counselors, in my experience, that number is very few. The problem, as I have discussed before, is that there are too few counselors for too many students.
The book does discuss independent counselors but with an obvious bias. At one point they say that dealing with independent counselors is like “shark infested waters.” It is true that you should always make sure that you are dealing with a competent professional when hiring anybody. And it is true that there are a few counselors that charge very high sums. But most ethical counselors, those that belong to an organization like IECA, have the background and expertise to help students through the admission process while making sure that the application is from the student. IECA even has a list of the 12 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Independent Educational Consultant.
The book is a good overview of the process and for many students it may be enough to help them through the college admissions process. But don’t be misled by the books lack of understanding of how most independent counselors work. There is a reason that 26% of high achieving students use independent counselors to help with the admissions process.
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