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Publisher's Summary

In the fall of 1999, New York Times education reporter Jacques Steinberg was given an unprecedented opportunity to observe the admissions process at prestigious Wesleyan University. Over the course of nearly a year, Steinberg accompanied admissions officer Ralph Figueroa on a tour to assess and recruit the most promising students in the country.

The Gatekeepers follows a diverse group of prospective students as they compete for places in the nation's most elite colleges. The first book to reveal the college admission process in such behind-the-scenes detail, The Gatekeepers will be required reading for every parent of a high school-age child and for every student facing the arduous and anxious task of applying to college.

©2002 Jack Steinberg (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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    3 out of 5 stars

Excellent insight but too much filler

The parts of this book which detail the admissions process and decisions are truly excellent and invaluable to anyone seeking to understand how elite schools make their decisions. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in this topic.

This book was adapted from a series of articles. It shows. Substantial time is taken on detailing people and their backgrounds to get a better sense of where the different characters are coming from. This was somewhat interesting when the subject was an admissions officer, still bearable when it was one of the various applicants but the author didn't stop there. Are in-depth details the admissions officers parent's stories really of any value? Not so much, but still worse was the many minutes on his grandfather. I skipped over quite a bit at this point but, given the trend, I expect that in the hour+ I skipped we learned quite a bit of the back story of the UPS delivery man and the barista at the local coffee shop.

However, once it got to the actual decision making process the book was informative and riveting.

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interesting . . . but

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

a well written, VERY interesting book on the the college admission process, but more like a nonfiction novel, than a reference book on the process.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Carol
  • Highlands, NJ, United States
  • 09-26-12

should be required reading for high school juniors

Would you listen to The Gatekeepers again? Why?

Absolutely. I want to process the information.

Which scene was your favorite?

Enjoyed the reality of following an admissions officier.

Any additional comments?

Yes, I wish the author would realize that school counselors could actually be vaulable resources to parents. I was offended by some of the generalizations about the profession. However, this book will still be on a reference slide during a college planning presentation.

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Interesting perspective, if a bit outdated

What did you love best about The Gatekeepers?

It's amazing how quickly the topic of college admissions can evolve. I really enjoyed this book for what it was - an inside look at a fairly selective private university's admission process for the class of 2004. While several things about the process are already outdated, I enjoyed some of the more humanistic pieces that it shows in a world that is generally dominated more by numbers.

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  • DB
  • Rochester, NY
  • 05-09-18

Riveting!

This was an awesome book! It goes inside the admissions process at Wes U. It’s like being a fly on the wall! The relationship between Sharon & Becca reminds me of my relationship with my counselor as I was going through the admissions process myself... MUST READ for anyone!

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Double-standards to college admissions!

Disturbing to hear the superficial subjective factors admissions directors weigh above grades and SAT scores!

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A+! A must read for elite college hopefuls

My daughter is a junior and is interested in Wesleyan particularly (and not just because of Lin Manuel Miranda!). I was very happy to find this book, and then thrilled to realize it was actually a study of the Wesleyan process. I know some things have changed since then, but it was SO insightful to see how the process works. There are so many talented candidates, and just a few and perhaps arbitrary things make the difference between acceptance and not. It is a great guide for understanding the admissions process to help increase your chances of getting in, and as consolation that if you don't get accepted by your dream school it 1. might be all for the best and you will end up loving where you go anyway and 2. might have just been due to bad luck and not to take it to heart or as a blow to your self-worth.
I would recommend both parents and students read this as early in the high school career as possible. Freshman year is not too early, and junior year or even early senior year is not too late.

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Engaging

Informative and fun to read.

When you finish reading, you will have a much better understanding of the admissions process and how to prepare your kids.

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Fascinating Details of Admissions @ Elite Colleges

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

A must read for parents who think they want their children to apply to elite colleges or anyone who might want to be a college admissions officer or high school guidance counselor. While Steinberg follows the graduating class of 2004, as the parent of kids who are Tufts Class of 2015 and Trinity College Class of 2020, the process has changed if only to become even more competitive. THE GATEKEEPERS won't teach you how to get your child into an elite college, but it will help you - and your child - understand the numbers game. I am solidly middle class and this book helped me learn things that children from wealthy families do to make themselves more appealing to elite colleges. There is a lot of "filler," but I found that the backstories of all the participants in the book, from the counselors and admissions officers to the applicants, helped round out and give a real face to the facts. I even enjoyed the history of colleges and college admissions that Steinberg included.

What did you like best about this story?

I liked the second epilogue Steinberg added to THE GATEKEEPERS, which is from 2012. It is interesting to find out where the major players are now and how their admissions experience and time at college shaped them. The applicants are now approaching 30. Steinberg also discusses how wide use of the Common App has changed admissions as well as the waning value of the SAT and how foreign students are being actively sought as applicants.

Have you listened to any of Jacques Steinberg’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No.

What insight do you think you’ll apply from The Gatekeepers?

Although my youngest won't start thinking about college for another 5 years, I am going to approach it differently with him, from the colleges he considers to when we start looking at them to visiting campuses early.

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Engaging and interesting

I thought the topic was challenging. But the author very elegantly managed to keep it very interesting. Instead of drab statistics and data the narrative is full of human drama and emotions and still manages to describe the essential details and facts of the admission process. It was especially rewarding to "read" the 10 year follow up.