This post contains affiliate links.  My oldest child is a senior, and we’re just starting the college search. To learn more about the process, I read Who Gets In and Why by Jeffrey Selingo. This book is eye-opening and made me very glad that my son doesn’t want to apply to an elite, selective school.

Who Gets In and Why Book Review

About Who Gets In and Why

I read this book in preparation for the college application process.  However, I discovered that we’re late to the party. We should have started the search last year.  That was just one of the eye-opening details in this book.

In preparation for writing this book, Selingo sat in with admission officers from three different colleges including Emory.  He also followed several students throughout their senior year as they chose which colleges to apply to, applied, and handled acceptances and rejections.  Selingo writes in-depth about the history of the college application process.  However, I most enjoyed reading the personal interactions with members of the admissions team.  I also appreciated reading the personal narratives of seniors trying to decide which colleges to apply to and which offers to accept.

Throughout the book, Selingo used many terms I was unfamiliar with. These include colleges that are “buyers” and “sellers” and applicants that are “drivers” and “passengers.”  I had already told my son that he should apply to some reach schools where he may not get in.  He should also apply to some schools where he will definitely get in.  Thanks to reading this book, we decided he should apply only to “buyer” schools because that’s where he will most likely get the most financial aid.  I also realized that my son is a “passenger” applicant.  If he were a “driver” (a senior highly motivated to apply to colleges), he likely would have started the college application process a year or two ago.  Yes, students start that early prepping for standardized tests and making sure they’re well-rounded, high-achieving students.

My Thoughts on the Book

This book was chocked full of information that we will use as my child decides on colleges to apply to. However, I’m glad we’re not interested in super selective schools. I was heartbroken for kids who worked so hard in high school and had amazing GPAs and test scores but were rejected by their topic picks. The colleges’ reasons for rejecting students seemed arbitrary. For instance, a college might reject a female because the college needed more males even though the female is better qualified.

As insightful as this book was, I felt that Selingo focused too much on selective, elite schools and wealthy students. I would have preferred if he’d also focused more on some of the schools that are “buyers” and applicants that are “passengers.” These parties seem more common in the college application process.

I give Who Gets in and Why by Jeffrey Selingo 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.

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