Jeffrey Selingo’s newly released college admission book Who Gets in and Why is a must read for anyone wanting the inside scoop on SELECTIVE college admissions. Selective colleges are the ones that many students and parents, especially in higher income areas, tend to focus on. While these selective colleges often get the majority of attention, they actually make up less than 10% of all universities. That means that about 90% of colleges are relatively accessible, especially for a high achieving student.
Selingo puts colleges into two categories, which he calls Buyers and Sellers. Sellers are the selective schools. They are the “name brand” schools. Students come to them. They don’t have to advertise or offer scholarships/discounts to entice students. They are the schools with the single and teen digit admissions rates, the ones many parents are willing to borrow loads of money to pay for, and the ones that leave many high achieving students heartbroken every year.
Buyers, on the other hand, often offer incentives for students to apply including tuition discounts, special programs, unique mentorship and research opportunities, free application fees and more. Students should always have some buyers on their list to increase their options. And if students are planning to only apply to buyers, they don’t need to read Selingo’s book.
But for strong students--those who have taken rigorous courses, have a GPA over a 4.0, earned strong test scores, and have engaged in exceptional extracurricular activities that show leadership, innovation and/or a talent, then Selingo’s book gives them (and their parents) unique insight into a world that is often so secretive: the inside of an admissions office during application season.
Some Key Takeaways:
My takeaways are just a sliver of the insights and tips Selingo offers. And while he gives readers a good sense of what it takes for students to be successful when applying selective schools, he also emphasizes the unpredictability of college admissions. While a student can check off every box he emphasizes, there are ultimately no guarantees. It’s another reminder for students to have a balanced list of colleges, or as Selingo would say, to include some buyers and not all sellers.