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Acceptance: A Legendary Guidance Counselor Helps Seven Kids Find the Right Colleges--and Find Themselves Paperback – June 29, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The college application process is a time of major anxiety for high school seniors and their parents. Fortunately for all concerned (including administrators, teachers, and private coaches), Marcus, the Pulitzer Prize–winning education writer for U.S. News and World Report, has documented the year he spent at suburban Long Island's Oyster Bay High School closely observing the rather unorthodox college counselor Gwyeth Smith and seven college-bound seniors. In this insider's look at the college application process, Marcus reveals the personal realities the kids and their parents face, the way college decisions are made and how and why Smith manages to ease the powder keg of worry and emotions with good advice, eventually helping make the right match for each student. Readers meet all kinds—the kid who doesn't test well; the one who is depressed after an early admission rejection; the high-achieving Asian-American at odds with his parents; the good girl looking for something different; the athlete with mediocre grades. In sometimes the most counterintuitive ways, Smith helps them by demonstrating how each has the ability to write good application essays, find their true passion and represent themselves as people colleges will want to accept. A wonderfully enjoyable antidote to the spate of books focused on the college admissions game of getting in. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"I grade Marcus and "Acceptance" A+ for presenting an engaging, indispensably informative book."
--Jeffrey Burke, Bloomberg News --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (June 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143117645
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143117643
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is an eye-opening recounting of the college hunt of a diverse group of seniors at Oyster Bay High School, and how the dreams of the kids meet the reality of the admissions process. The key is the incredible work and talent of their counselor, Gwyeth Smith, Jr., a real joy to watch in action. Mr. Marcus gives the type of moving, accurate portrayal that can only come from "living with" the participants and feeling what they felt. Their stories are told so well that you cannot help but root for the kids as the decisions come in.

Apart from a wonderful, realistic story, the book really gets it right when it focuses on what should be the message of parents and counselors everywhere. The real accomplishment in getting into college comes from finding the right fit for the student. It's not just about prestige or academic reputation or exclusivity. It takes someone who cares, someone who takes time to know the students in ways that test scores and class rank cannot. Where will they thrive as young adults beginning their journey?

Parents, read this book! If you aren't getting this kind of approach from your counselor, speak up. Students, read this book! It's not about the "best" school you can get into or where your friends are going, it's about learning what matters to you. May you find a counselor as interested in your life as Mr. Smith is with his students. It matters, but what matters most is what you put into this stage of your life.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Overall, a very good book on college admissions. (Oyster Bay HS, North Shore Long Island. Senior Class size: a bit over 100)

Strengths: The author embedded himself in the school. The author's focus goes beyond the very top students and includes above-average to average students (compare: Fat Envelope frenzy). The guidance counselor is indeed quite special, and is that rare public school counselor who knows what he is doing. (Compare him with the long-time counselor at the Collegiate School profiled in the NYT). The author acknowledges Jacques Steinberg's book Gatekeepers, and check out the blue cover. Writing is smooth. Well worth $17.

Weakness: Did not care for the limp font. What was Penguin production dept thinking?
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Format: Hardcover
Even though this is not an advice book, it contains so many gems to help high school students through the college application process.

This book was very quick reading because, to me, this is a fascinating subject. The main character in this book, Smitty, had had a long career in the business of getting kids into colleges, but he did even more....he tried to get them to find themselves and find the right college for them. He conducted a full semester essay-writing class where the students polished and re-wrote their essays. Very interesting.

After the applications were all done in January, he brought in a banker to explain credit cards and checking accounts to them, taught them basics of cooking, and also about laundry. He had heard too many stories over the years (from grads) to assume that the kids knew these skills.

This was in a public school in Oyster Bay, NY. My experience with public-school HS guidance counselors is that most of their time and effort goes into the kids with problems (or troublemakers), with little time left over for actual "guidance" ---let alone doing what this guy did.

If you have any interest in this topic, or a child getting ready for the college application process, I would highly recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover
I am beginning the college search with my second child. Having survived it once, I wish that I had had this book 2 years ago! This is an excellent source of information and advice presented in an informal, easy to read manner. It should be mandatory reading for all Juniors, Seniors and their parents!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A nice read if you are panicking about your kid going to college. This is not about advice on how to get a square peg in a round hole (meaning getting your kid into a school they are unlikely to get into). Its more Acceptance.....meaning "doing what you can within your reality" and then Accepting the outcome, which is often better than the fears that keep you up at night.

Paying for college... that's something else to worry about, but getting your kid into the right situation(s) is first.
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Format: Hardcover
Enjoyed following the paths of the students and appreciated learning how to write an essay capable of raising an eyebrow from the admissions staff.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book was amazing! Gwyeth Smith is the type of guidance counselor that I can only hope to be! Really enjoyed it!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Most high school guidance counselors don't have the time or passion to do what the main subject of this book does. As a parent of a high school senior, I was looking for information and ideas not provided to us by my son's school, and I got them here.
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