Thursday, September 16, 2010

Admission: Helping people break into the ivy leagues

AdmissionAdmission by Jean Hanff Korelitz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Although I imagine the author wrote this as an affectionate tribute to ivy league universities and colleges and the stress and trauma of the admissions process in general, I found myself relieved not to have attended an ivy league university and hoping that none of my sons have that desire. I don't think I could handle the stress...or the other parents!

In the early 80s when I took the SAT, I took it ONCE. I did not study beforehand or take any SAT preparation classes. Things are so different nowadays...yet the average scores appear not to have risen by much. However, the SAT scores for Ivy League university admittees have.

The author did not seem to recognize that lower-key, private universities can provide excellent alternatives for students who are seeking a smaller, more focused environment than major state systems can give. On a couple of occasions, the main character (Portia) thinks about the other options a rejected Princeton applicant might have, and she doesn't consider this highly viable option. I was able to get the close-knit, intimate attention from my professors at a small private university...which was not nearly as cut-throat or competitive as the Ivy Leagues.

I had a hard time feeling empathy for Portia (which I'm sure was the point) until I was over halfway through the book. I suppose I find it difficult to understand people (even imaginary characters) who have sad, depressing, emotionless lives and who are not able to make the necessary choices to improve their lots. Life is too short to not be happy...or at least attempt to be happy.

The last quarter of the book was an improvement, as I started caring more about what would happen to the main character.

If you are interested in the ivy leagues or the college admissions process in general, I would definitely recommend this book. Overall, I enjoyed it.

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