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The college application process is a time of major anxiety for high school seniors and their parents. Fortunately for all concerned (including administrators, teachers, and private coaches), Marcus, the Pulitzer Prize-winning education writer for U.S. News and World Report, has documented the year he spent at suburban Long Island's Oyster Bay High School closely observing the rather unorthodox college counselor Gwyeth Smith and seven college-bound seniors. In this insider's look at the college application process, Marcus reveals the personal realities the kids and their parents face, the way college decisions are made and how and why Smith manages to ease the powder keg of worry and emotions with good advice, eventually helping make the "right match" for each student. Readers meet all kinds-the kid who doesn't test well; the one who is depressed after an early admission rejection; the high-achieving Asian-American at odds with his parents; the good girl looking for something "different"; the athlete with mediocre grades. In sometimes the most counterintuitive ways, Smith helps them by demonstrating how each has the ability to write good application essays, find their true "passion" and represent themselves as people colleges will want to accept. A wonderfully enjoyable antidote to the spate of books focused on the college admissions "game" of "getting in." (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.