Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Admission is really the story of Portia Nathan, who just happens to work in the admissions office at Princeton. Portia is dealing with the end of a sixteen year relationship and the idea that her mom has taken in a pregnant seventeen-year-old and might end up adopting the baby. She has a breakdown that coincides with these events, but seems to have more to do with a long held secret from her own college years.

I did find the insight into the admissions process of a highly selective college interesting. It must be great to be at a place with need blind admissions. I wonder what percentage of private colleges can still operate that way. Portia spends the fall visiting high schools and encouraging students to apply while the winter is spent wading through thousands of applications to find just the right students.

“It was an oddity of her work that she might know these young men and women so intimately from the records of their accomplishments, their confessed secrets, their worries and ambitions, and yet when the flesh-and-blood applicants arrived on campus a few months later, they were always strangers. Somehow, the folders turned into these bodies: high-spirited, intense, beauteous, or plain, usually clever, but sometimes quite dull. They looked like teenagers walking the campuses of Notre Dame or Texas A&M. They sounded like kids at the mall or on the subway. The special, unique eighteen-year-olds, whose applications had so thrilled Portia and her colleagues, or made them argue passionately for admission over wait list, or wait list over rejection, had somehow morphed into these strangely ordinary beings.”

Admission is a good length to pack for vacation or a long plane trip. It is not a light beach read, but slightly longer and more in depth. It might remind you of your own college admission essays, and give some insight into how the process has changed over the years. The story of Portia, her colleagues, her boyfriend(s), and the potential Princeton admitees is intriguing – slightly too many coincidences to be believable, but still a good read.
Escape to Books

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