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The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price by Lynn O’Shaughnessy

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10. The Race for Cash

How admissions offices contrive to meet all these institutional needs—how they manage to enroll pre-meds, painters, children of alumni (“legacies”), soccer players, Exeter grads, and African-Americans in roughly the same proportions, year after year—while maintaining (or improving) the college’s median S.A.T. score is a good story, and it’s made better by the understandable reluctance of most colleges to speak frankly about the process.

—Louis Menand, The New Yorker magazine

One spring, a friend of mine in Los Angeles called in a panic. Her bright daughter had recently received acceptance letters from the University of California in Berkeley, as well as the San Diego campus, which are extremely tough schools to get into. ...

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