College Unranked: Ending the College Admissions Frenzy

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Stressed and sleepless, today's high school students race from school to activities in their most competitive game of all: admission to a top-ranked, prestigious university. But is relying on magazine rankings and a vague sense of "prestige" really the best way to choose a college? Is hiring test prep teachers and consultants really the best way to shape your own education?

In this book, edited by a veteran admissions counselor, a passionate advocate for students, the presidents and admission deans of leading colleges and universities--like Dartmouth, Vanderbilt, Harvard--remind readers that college choice and admission are a matter of fit, not of winning a prize, and that many colleges are "good" in different ways. They call for bold changes in admissions policies and application strategies, to help both colleges and applicants to rediscover what college is really for. It's not just a ticket to financial success, but a once-in-a-lifetime chance to explore new worlds of knowledge.

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post

[College Unranked] is a collection of essays by some of the most thoughtful people working in college admissions today...[Thacker] has an unusual perspective, an irresistible writing style and a passion to help students.
— Jay Mathews

Chicago Tribune

These college-insider contributors deride the 'commercialization of college admissions,' the obsession with college 'rankings' and the 'test prep industry' in a compelling critique of college admissions today.
— Eric Arnesen

Richard H. Shaw
The truth could set you free! This collection of essays adds real insight to the search for college and re-centers the focus to the student's development and well-being. Full of excellent observations and advice.
Leon Botstein
This book is welcome, if not overdue. The leading figures in college administration and admissions articulate with insight, candor, and compassion what the college admissions process should and should not be. This book is required reading for every parent, counselor, and aspiring student. It is more honest, helpful, and important than any guidebook or ranking magazine that exploits the misplaced anxiety concerning college admissions among students and their families.
Bob Laird
College Unranked is the most important effort yet to yank back the college application/admission process from the grasp of college rankings, commercial guidebooks, and expensive private consultants, and to restore it where it belongs: in the hands of students and their parents. The voices of the book's contributors are a calm, thoughtful force propelling us through the national blast of anxiety that dominates college selection and admission.
Washington Post - Jay Mathews
[College Unranked] is a collection of essays by some of the most thoughtful people working in college admissions today...[Thacker] has an unusual perspective, an irresistible writing style and a passion to help students.
Chicago Tribune - Eric Arnesen
These college-insider contributors deride the 'commercialization of college admissions,' the obsession with college 'rankings' and the 'test prep industry' in a compelling critique of college admissions today.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674019775
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2005
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 691,704
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

A thirty-year veteran of the college admission and college counseling professions, Lloyd Thacker is executive director of The Education Conservancy. Thacker lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and their two sons.
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Table of Contents



College Recruitment Night
Kim Stafford, Director, Northwest Writing Institute, Lewis & Clark College

Let Them Be Students
William M. Shain, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, Vanderbilt University

Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation
William Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Harvard College; Marlyn McGrath Lewis, Director of Admissions, Harvard College; Charles Ducey, Director of the Bureau of Study Counsel, Harvard University

Sanity Check
Bruce J. Poch, Vice President and Dean of Admissions, Pomona College

Editor's Stories I

Our Numbers Are Up! (Is That Good?)
Mark Speyer, Director of College Counseling, Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School

Faked Figures Make Fools of Us
James M. Sumner, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, Grinnell College

Admissions Messages vs. Admissions Realities
Paul Marthers, Dean of Admission, Reed College

The Rank Lyrics of the Sirens' Song
Sean Callaway, Director of College Placement and Internships, Pace University Center for Urban Education

Editor's Stories II.

Practical Perspectives: On Choosing the Right College
Richard H. Hersh, Former President, Trinity College

Admission Selection: Discerning Intrinsic Talents in a Confounding Era.
Karl M. Furstenberg, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Dartmouth College

Higher Education: The Status Game
William Adams, President, Colby College

You Must Re-member This
Ted O'Neill, Dean of Admission, University of Chicago

Editor's Stories III

College Admission: As If Learning Mattered
Michael Beseda, Vice Provost for Enrollment, Saint Mary's College of California

Thoughts From an Admission Officer Mother
Sid Dalby, Associate Director of Admission, Smith College

Knowledge for its Own Sake
Colin S. Diver, President, Reed College

Status vs. Substance: Is There a Choice?
Robert J. Massa, Vice President for Enrollment, Student Life and College Relations, Dickinson College

Editor's Stories IV

Establishing the Right Perspective Regarding College Admissions
Harold Wingood, Dean of Admission, Clark University

Students: You ARE Important, and You Can Take Control!
Matt Fissinger, Dean of Admission, Loyola Marymount University

Listening to What Matters
Craig J. Franz, FSC, President, St. Mary's College of California

Saving Imagination
Philip Ballinger, Ph.D., Director of Admissions, University of Washington

Summary and Discussion: Seeking Educational Clarity and Inspiration

Recommendations: Who can do what needs to be done?

What can students do?

What can parents do?

What can colleges do?

What can The College Board and the media do?

Hope and inspiration


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