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B+ Grades, A+ College Application: How to Present Your Strongest Self, Write a Standout Admissions Essay, and Get Into the Perfect School for You

B+ Grades, A+ College Application: How to Present Your Strongest Self, Write a Standout Admissions Essay, and Get Into the Perfect School for You

5.0 2
by Joie Jager-Hyman

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This alternative college guide from a former Dartmouth assistant admissions director-turned-consultant gives non-straight-A students advice on the many options available to them and tips on how to identify, gain admittance to, and pay for the schools that will allow them to flourish.

Less-than-perfect grades? No problem!
Contrary to popular opinion, you


This alternative college guide from a former Dartmouth assistant admissions director-turned-consultant gives non-straight-A students advice on the many options available to them and tips on how to identify, gain admittance to, and pay for the schools that will allow them to flourish.

Less-than-perfect grades? No problem!
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need to have a 4.0 GPA or a perfect jump shot to get into a good college. This insider’s guide reveals easy tweaks that will pay off big-time in showing admissions officers that you as a whole—not just your SAT scores—are a perfect fit for their incoming class. With stellar advice on getting into schools that will allow you to thrive, this handbook reveals how to:
- Find great colleges that are a good match for your strengths (and will overlook less-relevant weaknesses)
- Painlessly beef up your application
- Tailor extracurriculars to showcase your uniqueness 
- Make sure your recommendation letters emphasize the right qualities
- Write original essays that reveal traits beyond your transcript
- Make an impression on admissions officers and college interviewers
- Create an early-admissions strategy to increase your likelihood of acceptance
- Help your chances if you’re deferred
- Get into brand-name schools through the side door
- Communicate about learning disabilities or special circumstances
- Get scholarship money based on attributes other than grades
- Customize your financial aid strategy 

BONUS: Includes an appendix of 130+ selective colleges to consider!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Jager-Hyman (Fat Envelope Frenzy), former assistant director of admissions at Dartmouth and founder of College Prep 360 (a college-planning consulting organization), guides students (and their parents) through the college-admissions process, offering a wealth of insider advice. The author emphasizes that even in the highly competitive (and, according to the media, often “gloomy”) admissions environment, there is hope for kids who don’t have straight A’s and perfect SAT scores. Jager-Hyman covers the usual steps: developing a list of target, reach, and safety schools; writing essays; prepping for the college interview; taking the SATs; and demystifying financial aid. Drawing upon her experiences in college admissions, she offers such suggestions as being first in line for early admissions (before officers become bleary-eyed from reading essays); sending written thank you notes to individuals who conduct the interviews; and so forth. In clear, friendly prose, she helps students focus on their strengths as they calmly and confidently face this stressful process. Though there is plenty of information on the Internet about the college-application process, this insider perspective is a welcome addition to the toolkit. Agent: Laurie Abkemeier, DiFiore and Company. (July)
From the Publisher
“So much admissions advice seems intended for high achievers aiming for hyperselective schools. B+ Grades, A+ College Application is a refreshing change. It offers wise counsel to the solid student looking for a good college fit as well as tips on how to maximize acceptance odds. While any student can benefit from the suggestions in this book, those with some Bs (or below) should be delighted to find that they are, for once, the target audience.” 
—SALLY RUBENSTONE, columnist, “Ask the Dean,” CollegeConfidential.com

“The decisions made during the college admissions process can have a huge impact on your life. This book provides an expert-crafted road map for this crucial period.”
—CAL NEWPORT, author, How to Be a High School Superstar

VOYA, June 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 2) - Stacey Hayman
Clever ideas on breaking down the overwhelming task of selecting a college are paired with equally good ideas of how to improve readers’ chances of getting into the school of their dreams. The narrative portions are written in an easy-to-read style but it is the plethora of short lists, bullet points, charts, and ation steps that will catch the eye of most teen readers. Once the exciting list-skimming is complete, both parents and teens will want to go back for the more detailed information in paragraphs linking everything together. The author clearly realizes most teens do not have unlimited resources to pour into the application process and provides smart suggestions for standing out, including: reviewing past accomplishments, big or small, and finding unique choices for a letter of recommendation. There are also practical tips on pursuing financial aid from multiple sources. The appendices offer an admissions timeline, tips on non-traditional routes into the top schools, and a brief list of schools offering greater success-potential for a wide range of students. The small stumbling block this book may face is its title. In most schools, a B+ is still considered an above-average achievement and stating a specific grade may dissuade students of all grade point levels from understanding there might be something useful for them inside these covers. They would be wrong. Reviewer: Stacey Hayman; Ages 15 to 18.

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Read an Excerpt


Congratulations! If you are picking up this book, then you (or someone close to you) must be a high school student getting ready for college. Perhaps you have been anticipating and looking forward to this moment for years. Or maybe you find the thought of college visits, applications, essays, and interviews about as appealing as taking a math test “just for fun.” Wherever you fall on the spectrum of college-planning excitement, rest assured that this book will arm you with the tools you need (including the occasional pep talk!) to land at the school that is right for you.

I have been helping high school students apply to college for over a decade. I first became interested in the application process after I graduated from college and took a position in the admissions office at Dartmouth, where I had been a student. When I left to attend graduate school a few years later, families began to approach me with questions about navigating the confusing maze of college admissions and financial aid. Since that time, I have shepherded many students and parents through the application process and have seen firsthand how stressful it can be. Some people think I am crazy for picking a career path that requires me to go through the college application process every year! However, I wouldn’t trade one minute of it for the profound satisfaction I experience when my students are accepted to schools that will truly allow them to thrive. Every time I get updates from students about college experiences that opened doors for them, I know that all the application stress was worth it.

With competition for admissions to college at an all-time high, the media consistently publishes gloomy articles about how students need a perfect GPA or a perfect jump shot to get into a decent college these days. In turn, guidance counselors and college-prep books often focus on the academic superstars, the straight-A students who have their sights set only on the Ivy League. But what about the good students—the ones who go to class, do their homework, get good grades, and still want to have a life that doesn’t completely revolve around school? What happens to students with Bs or even the occasional C on their transcript? If you are feeling disheartened or even doomed when it comes to getting into a good college, this book is for you.
Who Is This Book For?

I wrote this book because I want every college applicant to have fantastic college options and the know-how to put together a winning application. Forget everything that you’ve read about how impossible it is to get into college these days. You do not need to be superhuman or well connected to go to a good school. There are literally hundreds of colleges for students like you just waiting to be discovered.

Is this book only for students with B+ GPAs? Of course not. When I talk about B+ students, I am referring to students who work hard and do well in school but may not have a “perfect” transcript or a 2400 on the SAT. These capable students sometimes feel discouraged by their guidance counselors or the media, even though they get good grades. You don’t have to be in the running for valedictorian to complete a college application that shows what you have to offer.
How to Use This Book

The following chapters cover everything a high school student needs to know about applying to college. I start by discussing some of the different paths that students take to find the colleges that are right for them—the best names, the best deals, and everything in between. Don’t know what you want to study or what type of academic environment is ideal for you? Don’t worry. This book has lots of advice on how to identify your college priorities and find colleges that will truly allow you to flourish. Want to go to an Ivy League school but don’t think that a student without a 4.0 can get in? Relax. This book gives you the scoop on how to bypass the ultracompetitive admissions processes at schools like Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania through their under-the-radar programs, which are easier to get into, cheaper to attend, and still award you that big-name degree.

Once you have identified the full range of terrific college options at your disposal, this book will walk you through the application process so that you can understand how colleges make admissions decisions and how to maximize your chances of putting together an application that showcases what you have to offer. Confused about whether to apply early decision and early action? No clue how to write a compelling college essay? Need to painlessly beef up your extracurricular profile? If so, keep reading. These pages will answer all of these questions and more with helpful worksheets, questionnaires, and “action steps.” The last chapter of this book also provides some tips for parents. The appendixes offer a detailed college admissions timeline for high school juniors and seniors, suggestions for getting into a top college through a “side door,” and a list of colleges to consider.

Just because your transcript isn’t perfect does not mean that you can’t find the “perfect” college that will allow you to thrive. Let the journey begin!

Meet the Author

JOIE JAGER-HYMAN, EdD, served as assistant director of admissions for Dartmouth College. After completing a doctorate in education policy at Harvard University, she founded educational consulting company College Prep 360. Dr. Jager-Hyman lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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B+ Grades, A+ College Application: How to Present Your Strongest Self, Write a Stand-Out Admissions Essay, and Get Into the Perfect School for You 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
With 4 kids all in high school, my family is on a tight budget. My eldest daughter (an A/B student taking a college prep course load) is a rising senior and we have been putting off the college conversation because I’m afraid the tuition at her dream school will be more than we can afford. When my daughter showed me this book however, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that scholarships are not just for perfect students and that financial aid packages vary from school to school. While I know we are going to have to do the legwork and apply for financial aid, I know now that it will be worth it because every school awards aid and scholarships differently. Who knew? We now have the proper tools to effectively research, apply for and compare offers from all of the schools on her list. I hope that we can afford her dream school, but it’s such a comfort to know that there is an entire appendix in this book devoted to great schools we have not even considered. Now she can have some great “safety school” options that we could definitely afford!
edcollege14 More than 1 year ago
As a rising senior, I can honestly say this is the most comprehensive resource I’ve come across during my college search. Finally there is a book not just geared towards the perfect student with all As! What’s more is that there’s truly something for everyone in this book because it covers everything from resume and essay writing, applying for financial aid, and how to maximize your time during campus visits! The appendices in the back are also an added bonus. I personally found the college admissions timeline to be the most helpful. Right now I’m in the middle of signing up for standardized tests and making a list of all of the college application deadlines. Needless to say it has been very hard to keep everything straight. This will help me stay on top of applications and allow me to submit everything early!