The Early Admissions Game: Joining the Elite, with a new chapter

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Overview

Each year, hundreds of thousands of high school seniors compete in a game they'll play only once, whose rules they do not fully understand, yet whose consequences are enormous. The game is college admissions, and applying early to an elite school is one way to win. But the early admissions process is enigmatic and flawed. It can easily lead students toward hasty or misinformed decisions.

This book—based on the careful examination of more than 500,000 college applications to fourteen elite colleges, and hundreds of interviews with students, counselors, and admissions officers—provides an extraordinarily thorough analysis of early admissions. In clear language it details the advantages and pitfalls of applying early as it provides a map for students and parents to navigate the process. Unlike college admissions guides, The Early Admissions Game reveals the realities of early applications, how they work and what effects they have. The authors frankly assess early applications. Applying early is not for everyone, but it will improve—sometimes double, even triple—the chances of being admitted to a prestigious college.

An early decision program can greatly enhance a college's reputation by skewing statistics, such as selectivity, average SAT scores, or percentage of admitted applicants who matriculate. But these gains come at the expense of distorting applicants' decisions and providing disparate treatment of students who apply early and regular admissions. The system, in short, is unfair, and the authors make recommendations for improvement.

The Early Admissions Game is sure to be the definitive work on the subject. It is must reading for admissions officers, guidance counselors, and high school seniors and their parents.

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Editorial Reviews

New Yorker

The Early Admissions Game is intended as an exposé, for high-school students and their parents, of the realities of college admissions, but it is also a protest against the practice of early admissions. The authors believe that these programs benefit privileged students...[and] cheat disadvantaged students.
— Louis Menand

The Nation

The authors present a devastating portrait of elite college admissions—and early admissions in particular—as an elaborate and complicated 'game'...[where the winners] tend to be privileged students who have access to highly skilled counselors with information pipelines to elite college admissions offices.
— Peter Sacks

The Nation - Peter Sacks
The authors present a devastating portrait of elite college admissions--and early admissions in particular--as an elaborate and complicated 'game'...[where the winners] tend to be privileged students who have access to highly skilled counselors with information pipelines to elite college admissions offices.
New Yorker - Louis Menand
The Early Admissions Game is intended as an exposé, for high-school students and their parents, of the realities of college admissions, but it is also a protest against the practice of early admissions. The authors believe that these programs benefit privileged students...[and] cheat disadvantaged students.
New Yorker
The Early Admissions Game is intended as an exposé, for high-school students and their parents, of the realities of college admissions, but it is also a protest against the practice of early admissions. The authors believe that these programs benefit privileged students...[and] cheat disadvantaged students.
— Louis Menand
The Nation
The authors present a devastating portrait of elite college admissions--and early admissions in particular--as an elaborate and complicated 'game'...[where the winners] tend to be privileged students who have access to highly skilled counselors with information pipelines to elite college admissions offices.
— Peter Sacks
VOYA
Avery and his coauthors provide an illuminating guide to college and university early admissions programs. They examine the affects that such programs have on universities, colleges, and most important, students. Outlining the rules of the "game"-which are confusing to students because the rules vary among schools-the authors believe that students are pressured to use early admissions programs. Because students are unaware of both the written and unwritten policies, however, their admissions chances are often harmed, rather than helped, by such programs. This thorough study is complete with statistics, charts, and graphs. Although the statistics make for heavy reading in parts, the authors use a conversational tone that is easy to read throughout most of the book. Many game metaphors are used to help readers understand early admissions processes, including early decision and early action programs. Making several suggestions for reforming such programs, the authors realize that colleges and universities might not want to change to them, concluding that "[t]he most promising path to reform... lies with providing better information to applicants." High school students will find the chapter "Advice to Applicants" to be the most useful part of the book. This recommended title for school and public libraries is absolutely essential reading for students planning to attend college, their parents, and school guidance counselors. Index. Charts. Source Notes. Appendix. VOYA CODES: 5Q 3P S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Will appeal with pushing; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Harvard University Press, 384p,
— Carolyn Carpan
Library Journal
Written by three informed scholars-Avery and Richard Zeckhauser are professors at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and Andrew Fairbanks is former associate dean of admissions at Wesleyan University-this eyeopening study of the effects of early admissions programs is based on five years of thorough research. The authors examined some 500,000 college applications to 14 elite schools and interviewed hundreds of students and admissions officers to provide an insightful account of the whole game. (The process of applying early is logically referred to as a game because the ultimate decision depends both on the choices made by other applicants and the colleges themselves rather than applicant's wishes.) The authors discuss at great length the various rules of early admission programs, the decision-making strategies used by colleges, and the advantages vs. the disadvantages to everyone involved. They also offer recommendations for improving the system. The bottom line: applying early does make a difference. Those who read Jacques Steinberg's The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College will find that the two works share similar concerns. The key difference is that this work offers a broader picture. Recommended for all public libraries offering guidance and resources to students preparing their college applications.-Leroy Hommerding, Fort Myers Beach P.L. Dist., FL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674016200
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 8/23/2004
  • Edition description: with a new chapter
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 1,391,124
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Avery is Professor of Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Andrew Fairbanks is former Associate Dean of Admissions at Wesleyan University.

Richard Zeckhauser is Frank P. Ramsey Professor of Political Economy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Joining the Game

1 The History of Early Admissions

2 The State of the Game

3 Martian Blackjack: What Do Applicants Understand about Early Admissions?

4 The Innocents Abroad: The Admissions Voyage

5 The Truth about Early Applications

6 The Game Revealed: Strategies of Colleges, Counselors, and Applicants

7 Advice to Applicants

Conclusion: The Essence of the Game and Some Possible Reforms

Appendix A Median SAT-1 Scores and Early Application Programs at Various Colleges

Appendix B Data Sources

Appendix C Interview Formats

Notes

Acknowledgments

Tables and Figures Index

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