... Timely and engaging ... outlines the role that legacy and athletic preferences play in admissions, and forces us to grapple with whether their dominance is truly fair ... For children from more privileged families, Selingo is right: From the odds of graduating to earnings in adulthood, college selectivity does not matter much. Selingo is wrong, however, to claim that this point applies to everyone. The very economists he cites offer 'notable exceptions.' For Black, Latino and first-generation college students, the effects of attending a selective college 'remain large.' In fact, these groups aren’t even exceptions; they are growing in demographic representation in higher education. Latinos are entering college at unprecedented rates, and elite colleges serve as mobility springboards for first-generation college students. Their heeding of Selingo’s prescient advice for the privileged could further deepen racial and socioeconomic stratification in higher education, to the detriment of the disadvantaged ... Despite these critiques, Who Gets In and Why speak sto the current political moment, particularly when we consider the other, perennial debate in college admissions: affirmative action ... invites us all to a conversation about preferences in college admissions, but puts the privilege-hoarding pathways for the elite front and center. The lesson: Turning a blind eye to how money puts full fists on the scale permits affirmative action for the rich to run amok.
As compelling as Who Gets In and Why is for disinterested observers, parents of high-school students will especially value (or desperately flip to) the sections where Mr. Selingo offers an inside view of the admissions process at Emory University, Davidson College and the University of Washington ... Mr. Selingo’s counsel to families that they can reduce their anxiety and their debt by going to a nonelite school will likely fall on deaf ears. While he is right that many schools with lesser reputations offer equally good if not better educations, the imprimatur of a selective, high-prestige school seems to matter more to students and parents alike, and their preferences drive the whole process.
... absorbing ... [Selingo] provides considerable insight into the relative weights given to courses taken, academic grades, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, and high school quality, and he sheds light on the art and science of modern-day enrollment management. The appendix includes practical advice for families ... This well-researched work is an invaluable tool for college-bound students and their families, guidance counselors, and college admissions personnel.