Marcus, David L. Acceptance: A Legendary Guidance Counselor Helps Seven Kids Find the Right Colleges—And Find Themselves. Penguin, 2008 ISBN 978-1594202148 272 pp. $
Acceptance is nonfiction that read like fiction! Author Marcus chronicles the college rush process through the eyes of a guidance counselor and his advisees. Gweyth Smith, like the protagonist I loved in Admission, is really dedicated to finding a school that is the right fit for each student and provides the best opportunity and experience for him or her. Every year, Smitty takes on a half dozen or so special cases, working more closely with them to beef up SAT scores, bring grades up, confer with parents, and round out those resumes (or drop things from their overscheduled lives, if necessary). He and his girlfriend, the AP English instructor, also co-teach a popular course on essay-writing for college to help teens find a voice that will stand out and be true and honest, and maybe cope with an issue too.
I honestly totally missed the point that this was nonfiction and was pretty confused by the author’s note at the beginning, but then dove right in and figured it would be explained later–that it was just a device to impart a more “realistic” feeling. At times, the narrative got too bogged down with reading the same type of details, like SAT scores. And even though the book focused mostly on Smitty and seven students, other students and teachers were woven in, so the author used repetitive descriptions to keep reminding us who each student was, which was really unnecessary, because there is a cast of characters at the beginning. The tone had a very sanitized feeling to me, and really suffers from a lack of editing–it’s hard for me not to compare it to Boylan’s pitch perfect Getting In or Admission. Acceptance is thorough, but I nearly put it down a half a dozen times. I felt some sympathy, for some of the kids, but not empathy.
Acceptance will have more appeal for parents who want their kids to get into Ivy league schools than for college-bound students who will be too busy test taking and volunteering and working and playing sports and performing in drama to actually read this.