Valedictorians at the Gate

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A former Ivy League admissions officer shares her stories from the frontlines of the admissions wars and offers advice on how to stand out, get in, and most importantly, stay true to yourself as you prepare for college.

When Becky Munsterer Sabky was a high school senior she was rejected by her dream school, Dartmouth. She had done everything right. Checked every box. Played on every team. And yet still she received, “the thin envelope.” A decade later she was the one helping to make the admissions decisions for the Ivy League university. Drawing back the curtain, Valedictorians at the Gate is a behind-the-scenes look at how best to prepare for the admissions process, from the first day of high school to welcome weekend on campus, with the needed perspective to stay true to yourself, and discover your passions as you battle the other valedictorians at the gate.

Written with actionable advice (do take the SATs multiple times; don’t write your college essay about Hermione Granger), Valedictorians at the Gate answers the questions of just who to ask for a college recommendation (a note from a janitor will turn more heads than a form letter from the chair of the math department), just what to do on campus visits (have the student ask the questions, not their mom and dad), and what curriculum to take (if you like art, go for it over AP physics). This is the book every student and parent wishes to have by their side as they navigate the immensely competitive, and confusing, process of selecting a college.

Perfect for both prospective students, and (hopefully-not-helicoptering) parents, Sabky infuses her wisdom gleaned from years making the tough admissions decisions with illuminating anecdotes of her time as an Ivy League gatekeeper. Parents and students will find relief, and advice that cuts through the confusion and intimidation of applying to college and places the power firmly in the hands of the applicant. A college doesn’t choose you, you choose it. In Valedictorians at the Gate, Sabky has written the book we need now, and for generations to follow.

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“The most honest, most helpful book I’ve ever read on applying to college.”
Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Think Again and Originals

“This book is incredible. I have read dozens of books about college admissions and this one is exceptional in its honesty and insight. It both answers the questions that parents and students truly have and reminds us all of what is really important.”
—Lisa Heffernan, New York Times bestselling author and co-author of Grown & Flown

“Becky Munsterer Sabky is an expert on college admissions – an insider generous enough to share her experiences behind the closed doors of ivy league college admissions. Valedictorians at the Gate is the perfect combination of story, information, and advice, offering a much-needed dose of sanity around the process of college admissions.”
—Jessica Lahey, New York Times bestselling author of The Gift of Failure

Valedictorians at the Gate isn’t just an unmissable guide for every budding college applicant (and anxious parent); this is essential reading for all of us.  Ms. Sabky draws upon her rich experience as an Ivy League admissions director to illuminate the strange and shadowed world of admits, denys, and defers. With humor, empathy, and keen insight, she shows us what matters, and what doesn’t, at the threshold of higher education.”
—Adam Benforado, professor and New York Times bestselling author of Unfair