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

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16. Boosting Your Chances

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

When a Certified Public Accountant from upstate New York contemplated how he was going to afford his son’s college, he knew he didn’t want to pay the sticker price.

The son was a good student, though he wasn’t anywhere near the top of his class. ...

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