Tiger mothers, eat your hearts out. Anne the “application whisperer” is the golden ticket to success. Working one-on-one with burned-out, helicopter-parented kids, she can make Harvard a reality. Her phone number is a national secret. Her students end up at the best of the best.
But sometimes acceptance comes at an enormous cost. In a world of cheating scandals, huge alumni donations, and lots of inside pull, some parents know no bounds when it comes to ensuring that their children get in. It’s Anne’s job to guide students to their own destinies, beginning with their essays. Early Decision follows five students—four privileged, one without a penny to her name—as they make their applications and wrestle with fate.
To write the perfect personal statement, they must tell the truth. And the stories they tell are of greed, excess, jealousy, deceit, money, ego, and pressure, as well as of endurance, tenacity, victory, and the hope of surviving their parents’ wildest dreams so they can begin to live their own lives.
Early Decision captures the most ferocious season in a modern family’s life. Parents only want the best for their children, and students are fighting for college seats that will give them a head start into work and adulthood. Is it possible to face the fall semester of senior year without losing your mind?
Told in part through the students’ essays, unsparingly revealing the secrets of college advisors at the highest levels, Early Decision is an explosive insider’s guide to college admissions in our day. It’s also a sharp commentary on modern parenting. The truth is, the kids are all right. Their essays are fabulous. But the system is broken. With humor and hard-earned wisdom, Early Decision illuminates the madness of the college race.
I've been to college. I didn't try to get into a "name" school, but it was still pretty crazy, to say the least. Reading through "Early Decision", it reminded me of that scene in "Baby Boom" (with Diane Keaton) where these mamas are sitting in the park consoling one of their own because her child didn't get into the prestigious pre-school. This of course meant that he wouldn't get into the 'right' grammar school, prep school, and forget about ivy league. The kid was three years old, people!
Ms. Crawford made the right choice providing the information in novel form. I was highly engaged the entire time. Trying to read through a non-fiction book with this information, I'd probably have to go on a one-mile run every 5 pages turn work out the aggravation. (And I don't even run after our puppies when they get out. I call the kids.)
On the one hand, you have the student/young adults who are the subject of the applications. They are trying to be whom they think the schools want in order to get where they want to go. The parents - oh my goodness, I have a 17-year old and I don't want to be like any of the parents in Early Decision! They want their children to go into a certain field, or go to a certain college. One parent wants his daughter's essay to be perfect because his acquaintances at the college will read it. Another wants Anne (the college admissions advisor/heroine) to write his son's essay for him because he has no faith in his son's ability.
Now, I'm not parent-bashing. Doubtless, in their own way, they want the best for their children. What they fail to realize is that maybe what is actually best (most fulfilling) for their children is not what the parents think it is. My parents made mistakes, and it took me a while, but I realized they were doing their best. Goodness knows I'm making at least my fair share of mistakes with my children, and I hope they will realize the same about me some day.
While reading Early Decision I alternately smiled, groaned and laughed out loud. I even gasped a couple of times near the end, but I'm not going to tell you why. That would ruin your fun!
If you've ever been to college, if you've ever thought about going to college, if you have a child getting ready to go to college, you should read this book! Early Decision is highly entertaining, and it's a lot more enjoyable (and cheaper) than getting any of those vanity 'get into the best college' books.
For fifteen years Lacy Crawford served as a highly discreet independent college admissions counselor to the children of powerful clients in cities such as New York, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and London. Her “day jobs” included serving as senior editor at Narrative Magazine and director of the Burberry Foundation. Educated at Princeton and the University of Chicago, Lacy lives in California with her husband and two children.
(Disclosure: I received a copy of "Early Decision" from the author and publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)