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49 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book. This book is worth $32K! Read why.
A recent article in Atlantic Monthly indicated that the author is probably the highest paid private admissions counselor. She charges $32,995 for a special counseling package that lasts two years to assure the best chance that students do get in into the Ivy league. She states that she has a success rate of 75%. She also indicates that for anyone who does not have that...
Published on November 13, 2003 by Gaetan Lion

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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not much to offer that others already have
Despite claims of showing students her "inside program," this book is an amalgam of other more pioneering books on college admissions. Don't get me wrong. It is a lot better than Rachel Toor's Admissions Confidential which hit a new low for the genre, but it has no real inside information like others by Paul (not very original - her title was identical to Paul's) or by...
Published on April 3, 2002


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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not much to offer that others already have, April 3, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Truth About Getting In: A Top College Advisor Tells You Everything You Need to Know (Hardcover)
Despite claims of showing students her "inside program," this book is an amalgam of other more pioneering books on college admissions. Don't get me wrong. It is a lot better than Rachel Toor's Admissions Confidential which hit a new low for the genre, but it has no real inside information like others by Paul (not very original - her title was identical to Paul's) or by Michelle Hernandez (A is for Admission). The latter is still the Ivy standard. The lack of inside information is not a surprise considering that Cohen is somewhat of an imposter in the Ivy crowd. Unlike other insider admissions guide authors (even Allen, Greene and Hernandez were all actual admissions officers), Cohen was only a "volunteer reader" at the Yale office while she was studying for her PhD. As such, she was not actually privy to anything that your grandmother wouldn't be if she volunteered to read essays (open to the public). Her only qualification is her online correspondence course with UCLA and the fact she went to two Ivies (so did thousands of others). Hard to see how she justifies her insider perspective when there isn't one.

With that being said, the actual material is accurate, well written and helpful. The book is well organized and neatly laid out. The essay examples are well chosen and the checklists useful, even though they are all available in other books. There are some obvious weaknesses - Cohen is used to NYC kids, so she barely mentions the IB (International Baccalaureate) program and how the those tests are scored, a big omission considering the rapid growth of the IB program (the US is the fastest growing country for new IB schools). It's hard to get past Cohens' inflated ego which permeates much of the book. In the opening pages, she explains how picking her book agent was like applying to Ivy League schools. That almost made me put the book down. Her long list of self-aggrandizing remarks take away from the solid material in the book. Overall, this book would be helpful for students just starting the college search, but a more specific guide will be needed (like Paul's or Hernandez's) for the real inside info.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unintentionally hilarious, February 17, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Truth About Getting In: A Top College Advisor Tells You Everything You Need to Know (Hardcover)
This book is a laugh-a-minute. You can't judge a book by its cover, but let's face it, the cover says a lot: sassy, Cosmo-worthy looking author, cleavage and all, purports to tell the "truth" about getting in. Once you start reading, you realize that Cohen has almost nothing of substance to say. She offers advice for doing well in high school: sit in the front row and nod your head in agreement with the teacher. No kidding. She offers up stories from her own process of applying to college (doesn't she realize that things may have changed a little?). She says she has a 100% success rate with the students who employ her, but doesn't she realize that people who can afford to pay her $29,000 to help their kid may also be targeted by fund-raisers at the colleges? In fact, one wonders, after reading clunky writing and suffering through fuzzy and condescending thinking, whether the cashmere-clad, diamond-studded Cohen had a little development push of her own to get accepted early decision to her own college.
The book is padded with ridiculous lists, charts and blank spaces. Does this make it worth the cover price? The parts of the book where she gives advice are not just silly, they are dangerously wrong. No one should take this seriously.
The funniest thing is that the author never actually worked in an admissions office. She was one of the first readers for Yale, and as such had no access to the ways decisions were actually made. She trumpets proudly that she's an alumni interviewer for Brown. (She complains that students come for interviews and don't ask her about herself.) Anyone who has worked in admissions knows how much that counts for (zip). Oh please.

Kids applying to college can find all of this information for free on the web. Save the money and buy some real books.
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49 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book. This book is worth $32K! Read why., November 13, 2003
A recent article in Atlantic Monthly indicated that the author is probably the highest paid private admissions counselor. She charges $32,995 for a special counseling package that lasts two years to assure the best chance that students do get in into the Ivy league. She states that she has a success rate of 75%. She also indicates that for anyone who does not have that type of money, all her strategies are disclosed within this book.
This is an excellent book on the subject. The author has a rich and diverse background on the topic, and it shows. She approaches the subject from many different angles. There are a lot of good books on college admissions. They typically cover all the basics well, including the quantitative factors (GPAs, tests) and the qualitative ones (extra curricular activities, essays, letters of recommendations, interviews).
But, with this book the author went the extra mile on every aspects. For instance, on GPAs, she gives you so many interesting insights that you realize there are many qualitative dimensions to the GPA itself. A 4.0 is not always equal to another 4.0. Sometimes a 3.5 makes for a stronger candidate than a 4.0. It depends on the difficulty of the classes the student has taken. It also depends from what high school the student graduated. The trends in grade is also really important. And, class rank can also play a material role.
She also explains all the different admission channels such as Early Action, Early Decision, and Rolling Admission (I had never read of this last one in any other books). She goes on explaining clearly when to use these specific entry channels and when not to. If a student is fully ready, prepared, and committed to a first choice school, and the family has adequate college financing in place, the Early Decision channel may be very advantageous. But, the reverse is true too. She also explains why colleges love Early Decision programs. Such programs allow universities to boost their student yield (Enrolled students/Accepted students) and increase their selectivity with lower acceptance rates (Accepted students/Applying students). The student yield and acceptance rates are metrics that play a key role in many college rankings, including U.S. News.
The book has also an invaluable section on college information on the Web. There you will learn about a company who sells objective 1 hour tapes on college tours of specific schools. So, you can get the down and dirty about many schools, and really learn a whole lot about them without having to spend thousands of dollars on a coast to coast family campus visit tour. These videos are not advertising, they are almost more like a "60 minutes" reportage on a school. I will definitely buy four or five such videos to visit some far away campuses in the comfort of our living room. Other recommended website let you find out in an instant if your family financial profile make you eligible for "need based" financial aid or not. In short, if 12% of the parents net worth (including home equity) plus 35% of the applicant's assets exceed the college cost, you are out of luck. You will not received "need based" financial aid. The applicant can still receive "merit based" financial aid. But, that is a whole different story, and a lot more competitive one at that.
Regarding tests, the book gives you tips on how to improve your score on any test. Additionally, that was the first book I read which when it was published back in 2001 and 2002, announced that the SAT I was getting overhauled in 2005 with a new written verbal section, including an essay worth an extra 800 points. So, now a perfect score on the SAT I will be 2400 (1600 formerly).
The book is also big on the interview section. Many other authors treat the interview as the least important link in the college admission process. This author thinks differently. To the contrary, she feels that one should get prepared for the college admission process in a very similar way as the job hunting process. Thus, the interview is key in making a strong personal impression. In her experience, she indicated that good or bad interviews did make a difference in the college admission process.
To conclude, any family with college bound kids will greatly benefit from learning the information within this book.
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35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't Waste Your Money, February 28, 2006
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This review is from: The Truth About Getting In: A Top College Advisor Tells You Everything You Need to Know (Hardcover)
Nothing in this book directed itself to anything but one issue -- can you organize yourself AND make yourself the "ideal applicant" for the process of getting into a "choice" college. More particularly, can you create a self portrait of yourself to get into an almost-impossible-to-get-into college which you believe will deliver to you a better education and better . . . everything?

If you are lazy, then maybe this is your one last chance to realize that the college admissions process will take more than 2 hours on a Saturday afternoon. But, I think even the most naive know this fact.

If you think the process requires planning and time, then use the time it would take you to read this book to good use -- such as preparing the Common Application's essay.

This book does the ultimate bad -- this book, like too many college counselors, nudges (or is it forcefuly pushing) teenagers to become involved in activities for the exclusive purpose of making better resumes for college admissions offices.

The preface which this book hinges upon is this: the better known schools will make your child's college education more enjoyable. This wrong premise is what creates the main problem of this book.

This book is truly directed toward the aggressive parents who follow the above-stated premise. Parents, let the natural process of selection deliver your child to the school which fits his or her needs -- which will deliver to the parent what any parent wants for his or her child: happiness. The result of this book's dogma, which seeks to encourage resume inflation and direct high school students to entertain activities for the (exclusive?)purpose of college selection, could well too often result with young men and women attending schools of their parents' choice, not their own. And, I ask, does the parents' decision deliver more or less happiness to the student?

Don't waste your money by reading about the need to have your child's life be molded for a college application. With 2,000 choices out there, it is obvious that the application process is to match the teenager's interests to the college -- not for the teenager to mold himself or herself (whether it be their own decision or that of parents)to the college's perceived appropriate applicant character.

College application is about matching the student to the school -- not about making the student become the school's ideal applicant.

If you want good books on the topic of college admissions, seek those which characterize the schools and allow you to see if the college described is "the place where YOU should go." There are three great books which handle this question: "The College Admissions Mystique" by Bill Mayher and "Looking beyond the Ivy League: Finding the College That's Right for You" by Loren Pope and "Colleges that Change People's Lives" by Loren Pope. Also, the little narratives in Fiske often depict character in the school which may tell the reader "that's junior" or alternatively "boy, would my kid not fit in a place like that."

Stay away from this and similar books. One book "A Is for Admission: The Insider's Guide to Getting into the Ivy League and Other Top Colleges" by Michele A. Hernandez specifically warns you to avoid these books -- even admitting that such statement is detrimental to her publisher which prints such books at a substantial profit.

Take the round peg and find the slot to which it fits; do not attempt to put the round peg into the square slot.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars moderately helpful, April 6, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Truth About Getting In: A Top College Advisor Tells You Everything You Need to Know (Hardcover)
As parents of three children in NYC prep schools, we've been through this process quite a lot and have read almost every book ever written on selective college admissions. We thought this one was good for an overview of the process and an excellent chapter on evaluating essays. Our overall favorites were Mr. Bauld's book on the college essay and Ms. Hernandez' A is for Admission. If you are applying to Ivies, you'll want to read the specific information on the Academic Index and the Hernandez book is the only one that gives students the chance to evaluate themselves and to read about the inside admissions process at an actual Ivy League school.
The checklists in this book helped up remember the important parts of the process and there were some helpful tips (like which SAT test to take), but too much of this book has appeared in the others we have read. For what is here, it's good and for parents just setting out, it would be a good addition to the library. We thought it was odd the the publisher chose to feature the author's looks rather than her credentials on the cover, although it turns out that the author never worked in an Ivy office in any official capacity. Substance always wins over style.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not revolutionary, but useful, August 9, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Truth About Getting In: A Top College Advisor Tells You Everything You Need to Know (Hardcover)
I had a panic attack about college admissions a few months ago and read several books about it, including this one. This book is more like a college coach for one's entire high school career than a last-minute admissions guide. Dr. Cohen provides no "tricks" or "secrets." Success still depends on careful advance planning, at least the appearance of honesty, and hard work. A lot of the advice is common sense, and the theme of the book is simply that one must stay on his toes all the time, even in summer, and never rationalize his laziness. For people who are already juniors or seniors, Dr. Cohen provides an excellent section on resumes or "brag sheets." It's probably worth buying just for that.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not As Good As Others, April 20, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Truth About Getting In: A Top College Advisor Tells You Everything You Need to Know (Hardcover)
Cohen's book is okay and will probably be helpful to those who haven't read any other admissions books, but Michelle Hernandez's (A is for Admissions) and Andrew Allen's (College Admissions Trade Secrets) books are both MUCH better. Those books provide a lot of specific details, inside information and great--and very candid--advice. Cohen comes across as something of a novice compared to Hernandez and Allen.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Much Here, June 2, 2002
By 
Jan Harmon (Beverly Hills, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Truth About Getting In: A Top College Advisor Tells You Everything You Need to Know (Hardcover)
This book had a lot of hype propelling it, but I was disappointed. The insights are not very original or insightful; Cohen comes across as more of a college admissions observer than a college admissions insider. Never-the-less, this book could have been a good overall review of the process if it weren't for the tone. Her tone is one of arrogance and condescension, and I'm surprised that it got through the editing stage (one would think an editor would have improved the tone to improve the book's mass-market appeal). You can find her advice is almost any college admissions book and not have to deal with all the attitude and self-congratulatory rhetoric.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Fantastic Book on the College Application Process!, April 9, 2002
This review is from: The Truth About Getting In: A Top College Advisor Tells You Everything You Need to Know (Hardcover)
The Truth About Getting In is a practical guide for both parents of high school students and students. Katherine Cohen wrote this book to help inform parents and students about the increasingly arduous process of getting into today's top colleges.
The book gives the reader information on myths and truths about getting into colleges. I learned that even though a family can donate ten million dollars to a college, it won't ensure that his or her child will get into that school. I also learned that colleges are not looking for well-rounded students, not well-rounded student bodies. In other words, it is better to do a few activities very well rather than to do a plethora of activities. Colleges want to see that the student sticks to a particular interest, and that he/she excels in it.
Katherine Cohen is a well-educated , industrious person who obviously cares about her students. Her inside knowledge about the admissions process and calming voice will help to soothe any parent or student of common worries about getting in to college. For just a few dollars, you can buy the book and get a wealth of knowledge, saving the expense of a private college counselor like Katherine herself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but could be better, July 17, 2007
By 
Casey (Austin, TX) - See all my reviews
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This book has some good advice for students (and parents) who are starting early in the process (like 9th or 10th grade). You're not going to get a lot out of it if you're already a senior, as Cohen spends the majority of the book talking about the importance of course selection, building relationships with your teachers throughout high school, consistent extracurricular involvement, etc. If you're a senior, and you just want to focus on putting together a good application, I recommend another of Cohen's books: Rock Hard Apps. It is devoted more toward evaluating the good, the bad, and the ugly of actual college applications.

There are two reasons I give The Truth About Getting In 3 stars and not 4 or 5.

The first is that Cohen appears to have a condescending attitude about not only public high schools but also public colleges and universities. It appears that she thinks Ivy League and other highly selective schools are the only ones that actually require some effort and planning to get into, and this simply isn't true. There are lots of public high schools and public universities with very strong academic reputations. And the top public universities (UC-Berkeley, UVA, Texas, Michigan, UNC, etc.) can often be just as difficult to get into as the Stanfords and Browns of the world, due in part to the sheer volume of applications these schools receive. But Cohen makes little attempt to discuss the intricacies of admission into these schools. She just assumes that if it's good enough for the Ivy League, it's good enough for anyone.

The second reason I did not rate the book higher is because of the constant references to how smart and accomplished Cohen is. Early in the book, she brags about having never received even a B on a test until an AP Physics class. Then, she makes it a point to say that she ended up getting a 4 on the AP Physics exam and that it meant more to her than all the 5s she got on her other AP exams because she had to work harder for it. And this is just one of many examples of her self-serving "advice."

Bottom line, there are other books out there that offer the same information (Michelle Hernandez's A is for Admission is a good one) without all of the attitude.
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