What You Don’t Know Can Keep You Out of College: A Top Consultant Explains the 13 Fatal Application Mistakesand Why Character Is the Key to College Admissions

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  • an excellent additional read for students and parents serious about getting into the Ivy League, Stanford, or other top campus
  • focuses on framing a student’s character as her winning quality, not just her transcript
  • a better choice for liberal arts education aficionados, and not so much those aiming for technical schools

Turn to What You Don’t Know to learn what exactly not to do to raise your odds of a victorious college application effort. Author Don Dunbar focuses away from the test scores and the transcripts and traces the origin of a successful applicant to his or her character first. Yet What You Don’t Know doesn’t aim to preach, but rather to point out the facts: “intellectual passion, maturity, social conscience, concern for the community, tolerance, [and] inclusiveness” are more appealing to Yale et al than a 2400 test scorer with a bad attitude. Not a groundbreaking work, What You Don’t Know still wins points for its more holistic approach to the admissions shuffle.

Dunbar spotlights an array of classic college application mistakes — an appropriately ominous thirteen of them — that should, and can easily, be avoided en route to an admissions triumph. What You Don’t Know does delve a bit too deeply into the interview process, a step that the majority of applicants these days won’t likely experience. But Dunbar knows the colleges that do frequently interview potential students: the Ivies and other brand name prestige campuses. Dunbar’s intimate understanding of the route to these schools makes his book a recommended buy for those that think of schools like Dartmouth or Brown as their bulls-eye.