Preparing for College

Princeton Admissions Novel

As a Princeton parent, I'm always on the lookout for anything Princeton.  I noticed that there's a new novel coming out about the Princeton admissions process that may be of interest to those of you aspiring to Princeton or elite schools, in general.

Here's an excerpt from a review:


“Admissions. ‘Admission.’ Aren’t there two sides to the word? And two opposing sides ... It’s what we let in, but it’s also what we let out.”

So begins “Admission,” a new novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz that is scheduled for release on April 13. Korelitz drew inspiration from her time working as an outside application reader for the Office of Admission to create her fictional main character Portia Nathan, a 38-year-old Princeton admission officer who is coming to terms with a painful secret that threatens both her professional and personal lives.

Korelitz said that, though her time at the University helped spark the idea for the novel, her work is not autobiographical.

“In terms of the specific characters in the novel and the plot of the novel … absolutely none of the book was drawn from my experiences as outside [first] reader,” Korelitz said in an e-mail. “There are no admissions officers over in West College who are the real-life counterparts of Portia and her co-workers.”

Korelitz explained that the internal conflict the novel’s protagonist faces is similar to what she experienced on a daily basis while reading and evaluating applications for the University.

I've always enjoyed reading both fictional and non-fictional accounts of the Ivy admissions process, so this should prove to be enlightening, even though some aspects may be slightly colored for effect.

Here's a tease from the Amazon listing:

For years, 38-year-old Portia Nathan has avoided the past, hiding behind her busy (and sometimes punishing) career as a PrincetonUniversity admissions officer and her dependable domestic life. Her reluctance to confront the truth is suddenly overwhelmed by the resurfacing of a life-altering decision, and Portia is faced with an extraordinary test. Just as thousands of the nation's brightest students await her decision regarding their academic admission, so too must Portia decide whether to make her own ultimate admission.

Admission is at once a fascinating look at the complex college admissions process and an emotional examination of what happens when the secrets of the past return and shake a woman's life to its core.

Korelitz’ previous work includes three novels — “A Jury of Her Peers,” “The Sabbathday River” and “The White Rose” — and a book of poems titled “The Properties of Breath.”

Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.