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Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  2,785 ratings  ·  484 reviews
Read award-winning journalist Frank Bruni's New York Times bestseller: an inspiring manifesto about everything wrong with today's frenzied college admissions process and how to make the most of your college years.

Over the last few decades, Americans have turned college admissions into a terrifying and occasionally devastating process, preceded by test prep, tutors, all so
Paperback, 272 pages
Published March 8th 2016 by Grand Central Publishing (first published March 17th 2015)
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 ·  2,785 ratings  ·  484 reviews

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Aug 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: academics
The message in this book is very important for high school students to hear. Two months after I graduated from high school I decided to pick up this book from the library because I was very curious what the author had to say about elite universities. Turns out, there was a lot. Common misconceptions about elite university students making more once they graduate and being more likely to be hired are debunked in this book with data. My only complaint about this book is that it’s a little long than ...more
May 27, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: college-smart
I really loved *MOST* of the message of this book.

The angst that many student feel about gaining admissions to the 20 or 50 "lottery schools" is counter-productive and harmful. Students can certainly get a great education at any number of colleges that aren't hailed by US News and World Report as the "Top" colleges. I have visited a number of campuses that have a huge impact on students without being hyper-selective. I love those campuses and encourage my students to explore the opportunities a
Sep 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I believe the premise of this book is that your college choice doesn't dictate how successful you will be in life and that colleges don't determine worth. Now with that being said, I think that some colleges can open up opportunities to their students that others cannot.

I have three kids in college, next year it will be 4. Some of my kids love school and thrive in that environment and go to well-known universities and I have one that hates school and would just shrivel up in that high pressure
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I am fascinated with universities and colleges and where kids decide to go to school, how they hear about schools, and the quest to get into the "best" school. When I was deciding on my own secondary education I didn't have this mentality at all. I was lucky enough just to continue my education and then even better, to go on to graduate school. I attended two public universities, both which got me where I am today and I am grateful for the education. The title of this book is apt and it is exact ...more
Christopher Lawson

WHERE YOU GO IS NOT WHO YOU’LL BE goes against everything you’ve been told about college—i.e., do anything you can to get your son or daughter into the absolute BEST university you can. Getting into a top university is like the ultimate report card. When you get that "A" it means, "You have arrived!" So, take practice SAT tests, hire tutors; talk to alumni--in short, DO ANYTHING! Try for Harvard or Yale—or maybe Stanford. Of course, one need h
If you have a high school student, then you're probably aware of how competitive it is to get into college. Everyone has a story about a straight A student with 2400 SATs who got rejected from an elite school. People will rant about how crazy the college admissions process is -- how even the best students are getting rejected by schools that just decades ago, people hadn't even heard of. But do you want to know what is really crazy? It's the things people will do to try to increase their chances ...more
Apr 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have spent my entire career working in college admissions, mostly at highly selective institutions. I do like this book, or at least what Bruni is trying to get across, and I even recommend it to families with kids heading into the college admission process. While it is essentially a synthesis of information readily available elsewhere, I am not aware of any other book which has pulled all this together, and that is a plus for Bruni. I also know a number of school counselors who are urging the ...more
kav (xreadingsolacex)
I think the premise of this book was great - the pressure to go to the *perfect* college is one many teens suffer from and dissecting that is important. However, I found the book very repetitive and it wasn't really a read I enjoyed the process of reading.

Note: It brings up eating disorders and self-harm without a trigger warning, so be aware of that.
Eva Thieme
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As the parent of a high school senior about to go off to college and having to make a smart choice as to where to go, I found this book incredibly timely. It sends a message I thought I knew yet need to hear again and again: that for some reason we value the brand name of a university, the "elite factor," much higher than it should be valued if we rationally looked at all the factors important in school choice.

Frank Bruni is so talented in getting this message across. He presents us with dozens
Fredrick Danysh
Where You Go does a good job of debunking the myth that you need to attend an Ivy league school to be successful in business or government. A less prestigious school can be just as good according to the author. Success depends more on ability and effort. The book is a good read for high scholl juniors and seniors thinking of attending college and their parents. This was a few advance read, review copy.
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An expanded op-ed that didn't need to be. ...more
Kristen Freiburger
Wish someone recommended this book during Andrews sophomore or junior year in HS. Would have saved us all a lot of grief. A must read for any poor sucker about ready to enter the lions den unarmed.
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
As an educator and as a parent of a high school junior, this book was very useful for me. I knew the college admissions process was scandalous before the celebrity bribe story of March 2019, but I'm still glad I read this to understand it a little more deeply. Bruni doesn't offer advice for finding a good college fit, but that's o.k. The purpose of this book is to share just how and why the college admissions world has become so crazy, and to show that you will be o.k., and perhaps even better o ...more
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you have a child applying to college in the US this book should be required reading. College admissions and Ivy League frenzy and extra-curricular he’ll are all part of a game of Emperors New Clothes. Very eye opening.
First, a disclaimer. About 15 years ago I got accepted to a top-20 national research university. I was a good student, well-rounded, 33 ACT score... and a legacy. I have no idea how much that played into the outcome, other than the fact that it was a prominent question on the admission application. At the time, I had no doubt that I was a sure-thing candidate. Nowadays, I'm not so sure. The whole admissions process is fraught with a lot more complexity and stress than it was in 2000.

This book ta
Carmen Liffengren
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's no doubt that the college admissions process has spiraled out of control. After reading Meg Mitchell Moore's novel The Admissions earlier this year which satires the whole college admissions craziness at its core, Bruni gave me much to ponder about college acceptance. My oldest child is about to start his senior year this August, we are about to jump into this stressful process ourselves.

Ultimately, Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be is about exploring more college options outside of the
Kara Bachman
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice wake-up call for those spending tremendous time and resources on reaching for the ivy league. Eye-opener of a book that dispels the myth that ivy league schools CREATE greatness. The author essentially shows -- and backs it up with data when need be -- how graduates of elite schools succeed because of advantages they had in place BEFORE ending up there, and because of social connections made, and NOT because of the quality of the education.

Bruni essentially explains how kids who aren't from
May 07, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Excellent Point: There are pockets of excellence in many colleges, some obscure but most are easy to find. Expand your search beyond the highest-ranked colleges.

Good Advice: Make the most of your college experience by following your passion and joy. Work with a mentor.

Boring Stories: How famous people experienced their college years (as if they were my role models! Who cares!)

Bad Analysis: The author, an English major, should avoid using numbers to compare the relative success of Ivy League c
Lance Eaton
The most important statement I can say about this book is that every student should read this book in their freshmen or sophomore year of high school--yes, high school. Bruni's exploration into 3-Card Monte structure that is higher education when it comes to seducing students should be understood by all students as it has many long-term implications for them. Throughout the book, Bruni systematically breaks down the traditional mindset to aspire to elite colleges, noting how success in getting i ...more
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Must read if you have a child that will be heading to college in the future. It explains the mania behind the college admission frenzy and how this in part is the reason why tuition is higher and acceptance rates are lower.

Really true it's not where you go to college, but what you do while in college - any college, but more importantly what you do after college.
Connie Mayo
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Required reading for all parents of high school students. The affluent tier of this country has gone crazy for college pedigrees, and it just doesn't punch your ticket like you might think. PLEASE let this book be an indicator of a trend toward more level headed thinking! ...more
Kris Gallagher
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must-read for both parents and students as they enter the college search process. Bruni effectively debunks the ratings game and deftly describes what really matters to students and their future lives (not just careers).
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are two quotes from this book I want to highlight:

"Her point, a crucial one, was that education isn’t just a means to an end; it’s a journey all its own, a process of growth, an act of betterment."
I was always a good student. While it was great for my GPA and self-esteem, it screwed me in the area of, "what do you want to do when you grow up?" I was "good" at every subject in school, and no one subject held more interest than another. I always saw my good grades as the goal, and never foc
Carol Storm
Lots of happy talk about kids who don't get into Ivy League schools and turn out to be wonderfully successful and dynamic individuals. No real talk about what undergraduate life at an Ivy League college (or any college) is really like. No binge drinking, no drug abuse, no sexual abuse, no racism, no ethnic prejudice, no class prejudice, no sexism, no rape. The perpetually upbeat author wastes no time on legitimate concerns about making a living, instead kids are "playfully" ridiculed for missing ...more
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read, but I did not agree with some of it. Of course, where you go to college does not determine who you will be. Of course, the amount that you take advantage of your college's resources and options, the more you will get out of your college experience. Of course, there are many routes and paths to the same places of success. Of course, tenacity can overcome late blooming. Bruni gives examples of all of these. But I think he is also pushing a lot of stereotypes and generalizatio ...more
Dec 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book given to daughter by her high school's college counseling office. Nothing too eye-opening for me since having an academic in the family means we are closer to this topic than most...but vaguely interesting to see some of the stats. I was annoyed by how much space was devoted to showing how many prominent people and CEOs went to non-elite colleges and were still wildly successful, which, ok, I see the point there, but much less space (perhaps no space?) was devoted to the notion that one can ...more
Liz Moffett
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book should be required reading for all parents and students in 9th grade. Seriously- schools should make it mandatory. A fascinating look at the college application, admission and decision process. We certainly need some antidotes to the college admission mania/syndrome that is making our kids anxiety ridden and completely stressed and in my opinion, furthering the divide between the haves and the have nots as far as income inequality, especially as it pertains to having access to the mean ...more
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Other than how the book dragged on in various parts of the book, this was a great insight into the college admissions system. All in all, the college system is rigged, but students don't know that, so many end up stressing themselves out in order to attend brand-name schools. This book also debunks the myth that one cannot find success anywhere else such as public universities or community colleges. If you really want a thorough analysis about how success isn't linear, and success is what you ma ...more
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
During my first year as a college counselor I kept asking myself why I was encouraging my students to participate the ups and many downs of the college admissions process.

Reading this book, I was almost ready to quit my job, but the very last chapter made all the difference. This quote will stay with me "...and in the end, they all go to college, and their lives are changed"

It's true. Going to college changed my life. I still think those were the best years of my life. If I can help anyone sta
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such an interesting read, and I’m not even inserted in the American educational system. However, I myself have gotten in a colllege that wasn’t my first choice, or the top college, but has proven to be exactly right for me- and this book analyses exactly that:
-we all adapt differently to certain environments
-the things that matter can’t be expressed in numbers, charts, rankings
-what’s essencial is what we do with what we have, and what we get. I’d much rather be in a healthy environme
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Frank Bruni was named restaurant critic for The New York Times in April 2004.

Before that, Mr. Bruni had been the Rome bureau chief from July 2002 until March 2004, a post he took after working as a reporter in the Washington D.C. bureau from December 1998 until May 2002. While in Washington, he was among the journalists assigned to Capitol Hill and Congress until August 1999, when he was assigned

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