The Gatekeepers by Jacques Steinberg
JACQUES STEINBERG’S The Gate- keepers, an account of the admis- sions system at Wesleyan Universi- ty, is enormously readable. It is also revelatory, if not always in ways the author intends. The process it de- scribes is opaque to most students applying to college, and Steinberg, a New York Times reporter special- izing in education, plainly scored a coup when Wesleyan agreed to give him a close-quarters look at how it all works at one, presumably repre- sentative, elite institution.
Over a span of eight months, ending in the spring of 2000-the period when the class of 2004 was being selected-Steinberg was giv- en more or less unlimited access to one of the college’s nine admissions officers, an experienced, hard-work- ing chap named Ralph Figueroa. He also received bountiful cooperation from other major players in the ad- missions process; got to see the ap- plicants’ grades, test scores, and es- says; spent time with many of these students; and even met some of their high-school college coun- selors. More dramatically, Steinberg was allowed to sit in on the confer- ences where the critical votes were cast-accept, reject, wait-list-and DAN SELIGMAN is a contributing edi- tor of Forbes.
About the Author
Dan Seligman is a contributing editor of Forbes.