Aaron Gertler's Reviews > The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College

The Gatekeepers by Jacques Steinberg
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it was amazing

(Note: Unless you are directly involved with the admissions process, you may not appreciate this book the same way I did. I'm a tutor, and this is all... too real. Much too real.)

I was very down on this book after the first ~40 pages, when we'd gone deep into the background of Ralph the admissions officer without ever meeting a single named high school student. But when the students entered the picture, The Gatekeepers got interesting FAST.

This is an honest book. Witheringly honest, in some cases, as when we see a student's life story dismissed by a panel of judges within minutes. And beautifully honest, whenever we get to spend some time with the kids and explore their lives, their decisions, their hopes and fears. I have no idea how many kids Steinberg met, but I fell in love with the half-dozen he chose to show.

And then we're back to withering, as these kids are torn up by people who've known them for minutes, or given the chance of their lives only to find that it wasn't the dream they'd been sold. But that's honest, too, and in the end, everyone seems to be doing pretty well. (This part's a little unrealistic, in that Steinberg only followed students of unusual intelligence and/or charisma, but that's the price of writing about reasonable applicants to Wesleyan.)

This book's funny moments are as funny as the best bits of actual high school, the cute moments as cute, and the sad moments as sad. I was racing to finish by the time I hit the last few chapters, devouring everything I could learn about every character. To my vast surprise, the only number of stars I could justify at the end was... five.

(That said, I still skimmed over the bits where we left the students and went back to Ralph's life. Sorry, Ralph.)
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
August 25, 2018 – Shelved
August 25, 2018 – Finished Reading

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