Friday, July 16, 2010

Washington College Makes List of "40 Gems" in Book on the Admissions Process

Washington College is an "overlooked gem" that deserves more attention from applicants and parents, according to the newest edition of Acceptance, a book about college admissions counseling by Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist David Marcus.

The book profiles veteran guidance counselor Gwyeth "Smitty" Smith, who recently retired from a public high school in Oyster Bay, N.Y. , and follows him through an admissions season. In the book, Smith urges students to look at the "fit" of a college, and not just its name-brand prestige.

The newly released paperbook edition includes Smith's 40 favorite colleges from his 40 years of counseling, and that list includes Washington College. "Washington College truly puts students first,” Smith says. "The students often form lifelong friendships with professors, and those relationships help when it’s time to look for a job.”

Smith praises Washington College’s programs in writing, history and ecology, each one centered on a prestigious satellite institution: the Rose O’Neill Literary House, the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, and the Center for Environment and Society.

He also likes the school’s location, with its access to the Chester River and its proximity to Washington D.C., Annapolis, and Philadelphia. “Not only is the campus in a gorgeous, historic town,” he says. “But it’s well situated for landing internships.”

Author Marcus and “Smitty” have spoken to thousands of parents, teenagers and guidance counselors during their nationwide tour of schools, churches and synagogues. They reassure families that a student's comfort with a campus is far more important than a famous name on the gates.

Smith calls the college quest the “great American adolescent rite of passage,” and the book’s narrative shows young men and women on journeys of self-discovery. Published by Penguin, the book also offers Smith's advice on a variety of topics, including standardized tests, college-prep courses, and campus visits (“sit in on a professor teaching a subject you’re sure you’d want to take as well as one you assume you’d never take”).

Smith is particularly emphatic about the application essay. "Sometimes an incredible essay can sway admissions officers into accepting a borderline applicant, and even a long shot." His bottom line about the whole process: “It’s not just about ‘getting in,’ but rather about awakening the kids to themselves, and to a life's path.”

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