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Valedictorians at the Gate: Standing Out, Getting In, and Staying Sane While Applying to College

Valedictorians at the Gate: Standing Out, Getting In, and Staying Sane While Applying to College

by Becky Munsterer Sabky


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A former Ivy League Admissions Officer shares her stories from the frontlines of the admissions wars, and offers advice on how to stand out, get in, and most importantly, stay true to yourself as you prepare for college.

When Becky Munsterer Sabky was a college senior she was rejected by her dream school, Dartmouth. She had done everything right. Checked every box. Played on every team, and yet still she received, “the thin envelope”. A decade later she was the one helping to make the admissions decisions for the Ivy League university. Drawing back the curtain, Valedictorians at the Gate is a behind-the-scenes look at how best to prepare for the admissions process, from the first day of high school to welcome weekend on campus, with the needed perspective to stay true to yourself, and discover your passions as you battle the other valedictorians at the gate.

Written with actionable advice (do take the SATs multiple times; don’t write your college essay about Hermione Granger) Valedictorians at the Gate answers the questions of just who to ask for a college recommendation (a note from a janitor will turn more heads than a form letter from the chair of the math department), just what to do on campus visits (have the student ask the questions, not your mom and dad) and what curriculum to take (if you like art, go for it over AP physics). This is the book every student and parent wishes to have by their side as they navigate the immensely competitive, and confusing, process of selecting a college.

Perfect for both prospective students, and (hopefully-not-helicoptering) parents, Sabky infuses her wisdom gleaned from years making the tough admissions decisions with illuminating anecdotes of her time as an Ivy League gate keeper. Parents and students will find relief, and advice that cuts through the confusion and intimidation of applying to college, and places the power firmly in the hands of the applicant. A college doesn’t choose you, you choose it. In Valedictorians at the Gate, Sabky has written the book we need now, and for generations to follow.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250619037
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 08/03/2021
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 301,594
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Becky Munsterer Sabky is a former Director of International Admissions at Dartmouth College. She’s a graduate of Colby College and received her M.A.L.S. degree in creative writing from Dartmouth. Based in Vermont, she is also an award-winning monthly newspaper columnist, a blogger, and the author of a children’s books series entitled The Little Rippers.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

1 The Big Picture 1

The College Search

2 First Steps 17

3 Creating the Right College List 29

4 The Campus Visit 34

5 Coming to a High School Near You 46

The Application

6 The School Report 61

7 Recommendations 75

8 Extracurriculars 86

9 Testing 97

10 The Personal Statement 110

11 Supplemental Essays 118

12 Submitting the Application 122

13 Alumni Interviews 132

Special Considerations

14 A Word on Early 143

15 International Applicants 148

16 Recruited Athletes 157


17 Decision Day 169

18 Admitted Student Events 183

19 Welcome to College 191

20 Best in Class 202

Works Consulted 211

Acknowledgments 219

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