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Publisher's Summary

Over the last few decades, Americans have turned college admissions into a terrifying and occasionally devastating process, preceded by test prep, tutors, all sorts of stratagems, all kinds of rankings, and a conviction among too many young people that their futures will be determined and their worth established by which schools say yes and which say no.

That belief is wrong. It's cruel. And in Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be, Frank Bruni explains why, giving students and their parents a new perspective on this brutal, deeply flawed competition and a path out of the anxiety it provokes.

Bruni, a best-selling author and a columnist for the New York Times, shows that the Ivy League has no monopoly on corner offices, governors' mansions, or the most prestigious academic and scientific grants. Through statistics, surveys, and the stories of hugely successful people who didn't attend the most exclusive schools, he demonstrates that many kinds of colleges - large public universities, tiny hideaways in the hinterlands - serve as ideal springboards. And he illuminates how to make the most of them. What matters in the end are a student's efforts in and out of the classroom, not the gleam of his or her diploma.

Where you go isn't who you'll be. Americans need to hear that - and this indispensable manifesto says it with eloquence and respect for the real promise of higher education.

©2015 Frank Bruni (P)2014 Hachette Audio

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What listeners say about Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be

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A relatable and relevant book for our time

I really enjoyed listening and reading this book. I can certainly relate to the stories in this book even after 20 years ago going through the insane process of applying for colleges. The outcomes related in Bruni's stories are what I have seen happen to peers and others who I have met. The secret to Ivies is to not attend them as undergraduates. I learned when I went to an Ivy as a graduate student that revenue derived from undergraduate tuition was really applied toward supporting research and graduate programs. At the end of the day, I was happy to have gotten a lot out of my small state university education and to walk out without debt.

The performance was good overall, although it was slightly confusing that midway through chapter 5 Frank Bruni stopped reading and some other narrator started reading the remainder of the book. I wonder why that person wasn't credited and why Bruni stopped midway.

I am certainly going to share this book with peers.

5 people found this helpful

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Required reading for all parents of juniors

Reading this book can help to restore the sanity of the school application process. The unnecessary pressure created by the process today is nuts. So happy to hear a voice of reason.

2 people found this helpful

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I now have excitement about the college search

This book appeared at a most opportune time as we set out on college visits. I am working with my daughter to broaden her search and expectations about prospective schools. Many exciting options if one steps back and looks at what it is you really want college to be. This book confirmed my sense that a different approach to and assessment of the schools we look at will pan out to a richer experience. I am going to relax a bit and trust it will play out well.

2 people found this helpful

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Essential for ambitious teens and their parents

While I started my son unschooling with a Waldorf (less academics, less pressure) approach, he's now 13, highly intelligent, skipped a grade because he wanted to, and dreams of Stanford. This book didn't change my mind, I'm in the choir, but I plan to have him listen to it in his sophomore year. Such important information.

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Conflicting Messages

This book is a mixed bag. It reads like a collection of witty newspaper articles, yet undermines its own message. The title of the book should really be “Where You Go is Not Who You’ll Be: As Long as You End Up Attending an Ivy School Down the Road.” For this lack of a cohesive theme, I give the book a low rating. Of note is that this book was originally published in 2015, but in 2020 it already feels outdated. For example, Bruni argues convincingly that Ivy schools are for rich kids who are one-dimensional. Apparently, Ivy U took note because in 2020, Ivy U now boasts that its typical financial aid package is over $57,000; 20% of families pay nothing; over 50% of students are of color; and there’s more diversity on campus than a tropical rain forest growing on a coral reef. And yet…has anything really changed? Not really. One could argue that the Ivys are even more one-dimensional than ever before. Who hasn’t volunteered 500 hours in a leadership role, started a club of three, is a concert violinist who is also a junior-level rodeo champion, all while claiming to be humble? Also, just ask the countless lost souls who’ve become cannon fodder in the highly selective admission’s game. The true story today is even more bleak than even Bruni could have imagined, and unfortunately his book does little to break the public’s stereotype.

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Required Reading for Parents!

This is a book about why running around trying to mold your child into the perfect college candidate is absolutely the wrong way to parent. About why luck and intuition and, yes, trusting your child are so much more important.

Look at the idiots who have landed themselves in prison for cheating on applications. How different, really, is the mad chase for the “perfect” college. I went to a college I learned about from a brochure they sent me after the SAT. It was perfect, though few have ever heard of it. I still managed to get into a very nice law school. 🤣. Trying to avoid rankings is almost impossible! This is exactly the problem.

Read the book. Your children will thank you.

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Eye-opening, profound

This book has helped me so much! I was already leaning toward the conclusions Bruni draws, but his extensive data collection and reporting has helped me be at peace with recognizing the near-scam higher education has become, and will, in turn, help me let my children become the happy people I want them to be. I’ve recommended this to so many people!

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A True Antidote

I was rejected from Harvard, Princeton and Duke. This book really helped me that my life didn’t end with those rejections–it has simply begun with them.

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Excellent resource for the whole family

Wish i would have read this earlier in the process. This is a must read for kids and parents at the very beginning of the college process Freshman year!

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  • m
  • 03-27-18

Very insightful and informative in multiple areas

Really enjoyed it and have shared with others. This is a must read for the college search for students of all ages.