Early Decision: Based on a True Frenzy, by Lacy Crawford.
Anne felt a familiar twist in her belly. She already had her students for the year, here in Chicago, and one girl commuting from Minnesota, as well as the set of kids she'd know only by their e-mailed essay drafts and teeth-pulling phone conversations, not to mention the classroom full of immigrants' children she volunteered with on the weekends. But Anne loved to feel in demand - who didn't? - and she imagined that behind this woman's trembling voice was a frightened, harried teenager whose life she might actually improve. Anne needed to hear more.
Early Decision is the Nanny Diaries of the collegiate world - Anne works with extremely privileged, rich children, for the most part, as a "private college admissions counselor," mostly keeping them up to date on application deadlines and also extensively editing their essays. The author of this novel, Lacy Crawford, was a private college counselor as well, and the novel is based on her experiences.
In Early Decision, debut novelist Lacy Crawford draws on 15 years of experience traveling the world as a highly sought-after private college counselor to illuminate the madness of college admissions.
Working one-on-one with Tiger-mothered, burned-out kids, Anne “the application whisperer” can make Harvard a reality. Early Decision follows five students over one autumn as Anne helps them craft their college essays, cram for the SATs, and perfect the Common Application. It seems their entire future is on the line—and it is. Though not because of Princeton and Yale. It’s because the process, warped as it is by money, connections, competition, and parental mania, threatens to crush their independence just as adulthood begins.
Whether you want to get in or just get out, with wit and heart, Early Decision explodes the secrets of the college admissions race.
I found this novel to be interesting. I myself applied to seven colleges, three in-state (UM, MSU, WMU) and four out-of-state, including an Ivy (Brown, Northwestern, Brandeis, and Tufts); I was rejected from 3 of the 4 out-of-state ones (I received an admission letter to Brandeis only), but perhaps if I had the money to hire a private admissions counselor like Anne, I might have been able to get into some of the others.
At times, this novel was tedious to get through, but most of the time it was an enjoyable read. Anne is actually only 27, not that far removed from college herself, and although she is great at what she does, her personal life is a mess - she's dating an almost-famous 40-year-old actor, who lives in L.A. (she lives in Chicago) and occasionally visits her, and although her business is semi-lucrative, she wishes to be more accomplished like her peers (to have a "career").
This novel also reminded me a bit of The Devil Wears Prada, in that Anne's clients sometimes ask her to do outrageous things - one student forgot to press "SUBMIT" on his Common Application online, and his mother asks her to go to their house on New Year's Eve to do this for him, as they're out-of-town on a ski vacation.
I'd recommend this book for anyone who enjoys novels like Prada or Nanny Diaries, or anyone who is interested in the college application process in general.
3.5 stars out of 5.
*Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.
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