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Acceptance, by David L. Marcus

Acceptance: A Legendary Guidance Counselor Helps Seven Kids Find the Right Colleges--and Find Themselves
by David L. Marcus
244 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Nonfiction/Education

An interesting and compelling addition to the admissions case study subsubgenre, in the tradition of Jacques Steinberg but from the guidance counselor's (GC's in admissions lingo) perspective. Smitty sounds like a wonderful counselor, although I have some qualms about his ethics (handpicking all of his counselees, "special projects"). And of course it's ironic that he started a private consulting practice charging $330/hour immediately after retiring from the public school system. Good advice here, reiterating much of Harry Bauld's excellent advice [review forthcoming] on essay-writing and useful-but-not-brilliant tidbits like taking the ACT (considered to be more straightforward).

What I found interesting, in a personal level, was that Smitty didn't even know of Deep Springs's existence despite his decades of work in and intimate knowledge of the admissions world. I suppose he never recommended TASS/TASP to his students, either, which is a pity. Lee (a Korean-American overachiever) would have thrived at DS, based on his portrayal in the book, even though after a semester at NYU he claims otherwise. --Well, everyone thinks that their college of choice is the best ever after they've attended and experienced it. Other colleges could be just as "good" for you, and possibly--le gasp--"better" in an objective sense.

Anyway, as far as college admissions books go, this is definitely one of the better ones. And up-to-date, covering the competitive 2008 cycle, which counts for a lot.


I would hope that a mature perspective would not make people think that their college of choice is always the best ever.

I think Gustavus was a good choice for me, but that doesn't mean it'd be a good choice for everybody, it doesn't mean there were no other possible good choices for me, and it certainly doesn't negate any of the glaring errors made in my time there. And anybody who can't name anything they'd like to improve about their school is not thinking critically enough about their own educational environment, in my opinion.
I completely agree. But six months post-decision doesn't necessarily guarantee a mature perspective.

Even though Lee loved-loved-loved Deep Springs when he visited as a finalist, after he was rejected and enrolled at NYU, he became convinced that he wouldn't have fit in at DS after all. I don't think fit is that elusive; one person can be a good fit at lots of different schools, and just because you're happy at the school you're at, doesn't mean that you wouldn't also have been happy--or even happier, or happy in an entirely different way--at a different school.

Wow, that was a convoluted sentence.

January 2011



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