When Jill Swenson consulted with Jeff Selingo on his new book proposal two years ago, no one could have imagined a college admissions bribery scandal involving Hollywood celebrities would unfold. Or that a global pandemic would fundamentally alter the higher education landscape for students and their parents. Jeff Selingo’s book, Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions, will be released on September 15.
From award-winning higher education journalist and New York Times bestselling author Jeffrey Selingo comes a revealing look from inside the admissions office—one that identifies surprising strategies that will aid in the college search.
Getting into a top-ranked college has never seemed more impossible, with acceptance rates at some elite universities dipping into the single digits. In Who Gets In and Why, journalist and higher education expert Jeffrey Selingo dispels entrenched notions of how to compete and win at the admissions game, and reveals that teenagers and parents have much to gain by broadening their notion of what qualifies as a “good college.” Hint: it’s not all about the sticker on the car window.
Selingo, who was embedded in three different admissions offices—a selective private university, a leading liberal arts college, and a flagship public campus—closely observed gatekeepers as they made their often agonizing and sometimes life-changing decisions. He also followed select students and their parents, and he traveled around the country meeting with high school counselors, marketers, behind-the-scenes consultants, and college rankers.
While many have long believed that admissions is merit-based, rewarding the best students, Who Gets In and Why presents a more complicated truth, showing that “who gets in” is frequently more about the college’s agenda than the applicant. In a world where thousands of equally qualified students vie for a fixed number of spots at elite institutions, admissions officers often make split-second decisions based on a variety of factors—like diversity, money, and, ultimately, whether a student will enroll if accepted.
One of the most insightful books ever about “getting in” and what higher education has become, Who Gets In and Why not only provides an unusually intimate look at how admissions decisions get made, but guides prospective students on how to honestly assess their strengths and match with the schools that will best serve their interests.
Jeffrey Selingo is an award-winning journalist who has reported on higher education for more than two decades. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Wall Street Journal. He’s a special advisor to the president of Arizona State University and a visiting scholar at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Selingo is the bestselling author of There Is Life After College and College (Un)Bound. He graduated from Ithaca College where he majored in journalism and studied with Jill Swenson. He lives in Washington, DC, with his family.