Anne is an admissions coach for students preparing to start the process of getting into the college of their choice. Or, in some cases I should say their parents choice… This book is a fictional telling on the authors non fictional 15 years of being a college admissions coach, helping students (and parents) come to terms with that next step.
In Early Decision, Anne is starting another season of coaching as her students she has accepted line up from all walks, parents for the most part, eager to make sure their child has the best possible chance to get in the ever narrowing gates of admission to the big name colleges.
Hunter, a kind boy trying hard to reach his parents level of expectations for him, but really has his own dream of his future. Sadie, the daughter of wealthy well-known parents who feels her future is all cut out for her no matter what she does. William, a brilliant young man who is constantly dodging his father’s anger. Alexis the overachiever from Minnesota (Minnesota!), and Christina who has everything it takes to succeed.. just not the means to do it.
As Anne works with each of these students as they write their first drafts of their college essays, she helps them realize who they really are and what they really want to say – not always to the parents approval. Anne meets with the students and talks them through the possibilities as they continue to work on the application essay that will hopefully set them apart and provide that acceptance letter into the college of their choice; but not always.
As Anne works with this latest group of students she finds herself contemplating her own life. Is this where she thought she would wind up? Was this her big plan for after college… thirty is just around the corner for her and some how she feels like she has never taken the steps she is coaching the students to take, herself.
Early Decision is a look into the world of college acceptance and the students applying as well as the parents prodding anxiously behind them, in many cases as though the decision of acceptance defines them as parents as well. Anne’s job comes with high expectations on her from all of the above.
I found Early Decision to be very interesting. I, myself did not take the college route, and sometimes really wish I would have. At the time of my own graduation, my mom had been raising me alone for years after my father’s early death due to an accidental fire, and my goal was to make my transition from High School to the real world, as easy on her as possible. Now reading about how intense parents can be about the process was fascinating and a little scary all rolled into one. In this book, you get a real taste of where the parents are with their dreams for their children – but you also get a real look at what the children want for themselves.
What is interesting is that author Lacy Crawford wrote this book based on her real life experience as a college admissions councilor. While this book does not point out actual people – the results of this book is a combination of her years in this position and the tiger moms and the helicopter parents are all too real.
I enjoyed looking into this world of intense college application prep; a world I knew little about. I felt for the students being pushed and prodded. In some cases I felt for the parents as they wanted what was best for their child…. but mostly I felt for Anne, who had her work cut out for her between working with the students and battling the parents who were either too pushy, or too needy…
A wild look into the college side that I feel would be a great read for parents and students alike as they approach that time of college decision. In fact, I think both the parents and the students should read this book before they start the process – hopefully giving each an insight into the other side and therefore taking on this step with a little more empathy for each other – and a little more understanding.
A fun and thought-provoking read.