Book Review: "Admission" by Jean Hanff Korelitz

For years, 38-year-old Portia Nathan has avoided the past, hiding behind her busy (and sometimes punishing) career as a Princeton University 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.

Reading this book made me miss the whole applying to college experience. Those were the days for me when early decision still existed and every day I would be waiting for the mailman to come, not with books but with a letter from a college that would determine my fate. This book brought back memories of tweaking my class schedule to get higher classes, joining clubs up the wazoo to look good on applications, and getting top recommendations from teachers. It also made me realize that my college admissions experience was a breeze compared to Princeton and other Ivy Leagues. Not that I'm knocking down VA Tech or ODU but what I did to get in was nothing compared to what goes on in this book.

I really liked how the author used her experiences from her days as working as a reader in this book. She explained the process very well of trying to promote the school to get applicants as well as whittling down those applications to the select few. I also really liked the essay excerpts at the beginning of each chapter. I listened to a interview with the author and while those aren't actual essays from applications, the author did base those essays she had read. It's written in a very informative yet appealing tone of voice that keeps the reader drawn into the story.

I will admit that I preferred the college admission storyline more so than Portia's personal story. It wasn't that her story wasn't interesting, it just paled in comparison to the college admission process. I felt that while there was some relation and parallels, her story could have been it's own book in itself. I found myself reading very fast through those bits and hoping the story would steer back to the college information. I also did manage to guess what the ending would be about halfway through the book. The story wasn't predictable but I just figured out the clues and saw where they were heading. Overall though I greatly enjoyed this book. It's a fascinating look into the world of college admissions and I only wish this book had been around when I was applying to college myself!

Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz is published by Grand Central Publishing (2009)


  1. I have this in my TBR. I worked in a college admissions office as part of my work-study when I was an undergraduate. I hope to get to this one soon.

  2. I really enjoyed this book, too. It reminded me that I think the college admission process has become too complicated!


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