July 2, 2010
WOOSTER, Ohio - The College of Wooster is an "overlooked gem" that deserves more attention from applicants seeking the right campus, according to a new book by a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist.
Acceptance, by David Marcus, praises the classes, activities, and student relationships with faculty at The College of Wooster.
The book tells the story of several high school students from different backgrounds working with Gwyeth Smith - known as one of the country's best guidance counselors. Smith urges students to look at the "fit" of a college, and not just its supposed prestige. In that spirit, the book includes Smith's list of favorite colleges.
"I've been impressed by The College of Wooster since the first time I set foot on that inviting, well-maintained campus," Smith wrote in an e-mail. "The students were easily approachable; I found a real sense of community; and I saw that the college does a remarkable job of fostering student activities."
"I was pleased when an alum from my high school reported that she loved The College of Wooster," added Smith. "The school encourages student-faculty relationships. And the requirement that all students undertake an Independent Study project means that Wooster's grads are prepared with the tools for life-long learning."
Marcus and Smith are on a nationwide tour of high schools, churches and synagogues, discussing the merits of the 40 "gems," including The College of Wooster. In their speeches, they reassure parents and high school students that a student's comfort with a college is far more important than the purported "brand."
The book follows "Smitty" and his students at Long Island's Oyster Bay High School as they embark upon the rite of passage known as the college-search process. Marcus, a former education writer for U.S. News & World Report, uses their stories to show that even as each student's path differs, they all are on a journey of self-discovery.
In the book, Smith offers advice on a variety of topics, including standardized tests, college-prep courses, campus visits, and writing a compelling admissions essay. He advises most students to take both the SAT and the ACT because "individual test-taking skills are often better suited to one or the other." He also suggests that students take the high school's most demanding courses while exploring postsecondary options at nearby colleges and universities. In addition, he says that "college visits - even brief ones - are essential" because "you can be intrigued with a school from afar, but see it differently once you arrive on campus." Smith is particularly emphatic about the essay. Despite a National Association for College Admission Counseling survey that ranked essays fifth in importance (behind grades in college-prep courses, standardized tests, grade point average, and class rank), Smith says that "a great essay could sway admissions officers into accepting a borderline applicant, and even a long shot."
Published by Penguin, the book contains a useful checklist of tips on such topics as testing strategies, financial aid planning, letters of recommendation, and the interview. In addition, a short self-assessment exercise at the end of the book helps a student find the kind of college that's best.
Smith emphasizes that the application process is not just about "getting in," but rather about "awakening the kids to themselves, and to a life's path."
A Bloomberg News review called Acceptance "excellent - A-plus." It is available at Wooster's Florence O. Wilson Bookstore and online at Amazon.com.
1189 Beall Avenue, Wooster, Ohio 44691. (330) 263-2000
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