The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College

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  • an essential read that provides an excellent, if somewhat unsettling, overview of college admissions processes
  • a bit dated in its findings, and not all the content remains relevant today
  • as entertaining as it is enlightening

Provocative and sobering, The Gatekeepers is almost canonical for its having shed harsh light on the realities of elite college admissions. Ethnicity, financial status, academic and athletic achievement, and the lack thereof: the primary points of discussion that, alongside consideration of test scores, author Jacques Steinberg expertly weaves in and out of throughout this title. Gatekeepers remains a must-read for today’s parents and educators (and uncommonly mature students), although not without a few grains of salt.

That Gatekeepers was published back in 2002, and that it concentrates on the admissions procedures of 1999, does significantly date its findings, as many colleges have either partially or completely revamped sizable portions of their admissions processes throughout the 2000s and into the 2010s, some of which potentially having done so as an indirect result of Steinberg’s expose here.

Its findings will read most appropriate when considering colleges less prestigious and more lowly ranked these days than Wesleyan; the upped competitiveness and selectivity that currently dominates elite campuses’ admissions rodeos isn’t sufficiently addressed here. That said, Gatekeepers retains its merit and readability for its insight into what non-spectacular, non-minority students could potentially face in their bid for acceptance to an exceptional private college campus.