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Admissions Confidential: An Insider's Account of the Elite College Selection Process

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  130 ratings  ·  22 reviews
There are hundreds of books available that coach kids on writing college application essays, improving SAT scores and trying to beat the admissions system. Admissions Confidential is a definitive look at why those books don't work. Toor lifts the veil on a process that anxious parents and high school students have never had decoded before. And they may be shocked to find o ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 17th 2002 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2001)
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Mar 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, education
If you're an ambitious parent looking for secrets to getting your child into the "right" schools, this is not the book for you. If you enjoyed "Race to Nowhere" and are concerned about high school kids becoming caught up in a rat race of activities pursued not out of passion, but out of fear of being left behind, then this glimpse into the somewhat arbitrary, all too imperfect system of college admissions will be intriguing. I admire the author's conscience, open-mindedness, awareness of privile ...more
Interesting read into the inner workings of admissions offices of private colleges. Also, vaguely depressing when you realize the absolute futility of it all. Something excellent to give high school juniors and seniors to read.
Maria Speidel
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
This is a readable and okay little book with some interesting nuggets into the ruthlessness of the student selection process at a competitive college. The author, who worked at Duke University some ten years ago, tracks a year in her life in college admissions. Kinda. She reveals in the beginning that she has telescoped three years of work into one year in the name of creating a smooth narrative recreation of one admissions cycle.

I had two quibbles with the book. Ms. Toor interweaves pieces of h
May 04, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Acute insight into elite colleges; but more importantly I began musing on the power of the top universities, especially the ivy leagues. We attack conglomerates and have laws controlling them, not letting them hoard resources and wealth. Why shouldn't we do that with these universities who have the momentum of accumulated donations and investments to suck up much of what's left in the small pool of talented professors and students? Market forces should not be the model that higher education foll ...more
Joe Tynan
Oct 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I have two kids in high school, one a senior this year, and this was informative. I also learned that I need to make sure they chill out a little through the whole process . . .

. . . me too, come to think of it.
Nov 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: college-prep
I did not find this book useful. It makes quite a depressing read. It's main message - all efforts are futile and admissions to elite colleges are out of reach for most students and more like a lottery system. I also found her writing style as putting off and grumpy. I will not recommend this book to my college bound teenager. ...more
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not sure whether this made me feel better or worse about the college process, but it was definitely eye-opening.
Jessica Goodman
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Well-written - read like a memoir with loads of details and inside scoop on the admissions process - loved every bit.
Jan 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-books
This book may be beneficial to high school freshmen and sophomores, but would probably cause the average junior/senior college-bound student stress.

Rachel Toor had some good insights for what makes a strong candidate for elite colleges, and she also talked about how absurd admissions can sometimes be. Three takeaways regarding insights were 1) apply early to college because there's a higher admittance rate for early decision; 2) don't write what you think admissions officers want to hear (your s
Aug 10, 2014 rated it liked it
This book is over 10 years old so I am reading it more as Toor's memoir of her years working in elite college admissions than as any kind of advisory guide for the nervous parent.

I enjoy her style. (She's clearly kind of mad at the whole admissions world, though.) It's very telling that Toor, who got into her first choice college (Yale) leans towards the philosophy of not making such a god-awful big deal about attending the ivies. Though she was eager to attend Yale, and it almost certainly ope
Aug 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wish there were more people like Rachel in admissions.

"The youth of the university is one of the things that make it distinctive. In 1924, with $40 million dollars of tobacco money, James Buchanan Duke decided to create a research university out of what was originally a small regional college. So unlike our peers (we considered our "peers" to be Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and MIT-though I wondered if they ever mentioned Duke in the same breath), all of whom strive to establish priority,
Feb 06, 2014 added it
The book is now old (2001 publication date) and it has some bits and pieces that are particular to Duke's admissions. And many of the details of college admissions and high school life have changed. Don't rely on this book for nitty-gritty details of college admission!

It made for an interesting read. Between it and The Gatekeepers, you get a good view of the admissions process at highly selective colleges. I came away liking the author, and feeling even better about Yale (Toor's alma mater) and
Jul 27, 2016 added it
Very useful insights into the elite college admissions process. I liked the personal anecdotes about high schools students that the author met during her time in the admissions office at Duke. There are some great examples of admissions essays, which won their authors a place on the Duke admit list.
Dec 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
If you have ever had any ties to admissions, I think this is a great book to read. There are times when it will crack you up, remind you days gone by, and also make you thankful for ever surviving the admissions process, regardless of the school. Definitely worth reading.
May 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
She gets a lot of things right!
Mar 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Interesting insights, combined with Rachel Toor's excellent (as always) writing. ...more
RoseMary Achey
Jan 06, 2014 rated it liked it
An insiders account of the elite college selection process.
Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
I liked this better than The Overachievers.
Apr 16, 2008 rated it liked it
Interesting take on Duke Admissions - good inside look at the admissions process and the serendipity of the whole thing.
Laura Dye
Apr 14, 2009 rated it liked it
Interesting look behind the scenes.
Sep 16, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: work-related
Nothing too surprising, having worked in 'the biz', but an easy, fun read for those entering this mania for themselves or their children. ...more
Tran Nhat
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May 29, 2022
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Jun 20, 2017
Dan Black
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Oct 20, 2019
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Jul 27, 2018
rated it it was ok
Dec 25, 2008
Maggie Bachus
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Mar 08, 2018
Elizabeth Jorgensen
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Feb 12, 2014
Kylie Larson
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Nov 09, 2011
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