Valedictorians at the Gate: Standing Out, Getting In, and Staying Sane While Applying to College

Holt. Aug. 2021. 240p. ISBN 9781250619037. $24.99. ED
Sabky provides an insider’s perspective on the admissions process at Dartmouth College and other highly selective U.S. colleges and universities. As a high schooler, she herself applied to Dartmouth but wasn’t admitted; she describes this as a humbling experience that spurred her to excel at Colby College, thrive as an eventual Dartmouth graduate student, and become “a more sympathetic admissions officer” later at Dartmouth, where she worked for more than 10 years. Her book is organized into sections on choosing a school, applying, attending campus events after being admitted, and more—though she doesn’t discuss financial aid. Sabky also covers early decision, international applications, and athletic recruitment. The emphasis is on applying rather than competing, and Sabky encourages students to consider “learning for the sake of learning” rather than to bolster an application. She offers valuable insight into how colleges try to build competitive pools of future students by focusing on diversity, selectivity, and college needs. Her work is engaging, edifying, and even humorous at times.
VERDICT Recommended for students interested in applying to highly selective institutions.
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