Fat Envelope Frenzy : One Year, Five Promising Students, and the Pursuit of the Ivy League Prize
A former Ivy League admissions officer, Joie Jager-Hyman follows five bright and eager high schoolers--students from diverse ethnic, social, and financial backgrounds--as they each put their best foot forward on the road they hope will lead them to the hallowed halls of Harvard University.
At once a remarkable true story of dedication, achievement, and heartbreak and a guide for success in an ultra-competitive environment, this important work deserves a place in the home of every family that has ever dreamed of receiving that coveted "fat envelope" in the mail. Jager-Hyman also offers a startlingly frank appraisal of the college admission process and the important roles race and class continue to play in a student's efforts to attend the best school possible.
A former admissions officer at Dartmouth, Jager-Hyman decided to select five promising high school seniors and follow their progress through the college application process. She'd been concerned with what she calls fat envelope frenzy (fat envelope refers to the fact that acceptance brings many pages of info and forms to fill out, while rejection is just a single-page letter) and an obsession with accomplishment predicated on the myth that college admission is contingent solely on merit. On the contrary, Jager-Hyman says, colleges have many conflicting admissions objectives, making their policies confusing. Jager-Hyman then introduces the five high school students she's chosen to follow. Four of the five are incredible overachievers: in addition to nearly perfect grades and test scores, one's an Olympics-bound gymnast, one's a world-class pianist, one's a talented engineering student, and another's an Ethiopian-American math whiz. The fifth, a plucky Dominican-American, has lower scores and grades; her struggle for admission to the Ivies is more complicated, but potentially more instructive. Jager-Hyman follows all five through the emotional high points of the process--deciding where to apply, writing essays, going for interviews, awaiting the fat envelopes and then deciding which to accept. There are few surprises; all these talented students end up going to great schools. In the end, Jager-Hyman's book is padded with too many asides, and she offers little insider admissions advice. (Mar.)
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February 29, 2008
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