Soundbite: The Admissions Secret That Gets You into College and Beyond

Hachette Go. Apr. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9780306874833. pap. $18.99. ED
In the crowded field of “how to get into college” guides, Harberson sets herself apart by pitching a unique strategy: the “Soundbite,” a brief, flashy elevator speech that captures a student’s identity and strengths. Drawing on her experience as a former admissions officer at the University of Pennsylvania, a private consultant, and owner of the subscription-based program Application Nation, Harberson is, according to her own Soundbite, “America’s College Counselor.” Though students shouldn’t include the Soundbite on their application, Harberson says, creating it will help them define themselves and stand out from the crowd. In addition to providing concrete advice on how to select colleges, recommending which skills and interests to emphasize, and sharing real-life examples from her clients, Harberson gets inside the mind of the admissions officer. Sidebars show whether students were admitted, denied, or waitlisted based on information from their applications. Laying out the admissions decision-making process, the author uses the stories of her own former students to instruct readers on how to best present themselves.
VERDICT Occasionally the author’s promotion of her approach comes across like an infomercial. Overall, however, the inclusion of exercises, examples, and Soundbites from real students results in an extremely useful guide for parents, students, counselors, and educators.
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