the new yorker
Portia Nathan is a thirty-eight-year-old admissions officer at Princeton University, a place so discriminating that it can afford to turn down applicants who are “excellent in all of the ordinary ways” in favor of the utterly extraordinary—“Olympic athletes, authors of legitimately published books, Siemens prize winners, working film or Broadway actors, International Tchaikovsky Competition violinists.”
With acceptance rates at Ivy League schools now impossibly low, this timely novel written by a former "reader" of personal essays at Princeton has built-in appeal for anyone seeking insight about the ferocious competition.
Gripping portrait of a woman in crisis from the extremely gifted Korelitz.
Over the past few months, high school seniors have been finding out whether they've been accepted or rejected by the colleges to which they'd applied. There's plenty of drama in their lives.
But how about the lives of the people who judged their applications?
In her latest novel, "Admission," Jean Hanff Korelitz tells the story of Portia Nathan, a 38-year-old admissions office at Princeton University. She's one of the people charged with luring talented, high-achieving students to apply to her school, and then helping to decide which carefully constructed applications win an acceptance and which are sent to the shredder.
Parents of students aspiring to elite universities may want to wait to read Jean Hanff Korelitz's novel "Admission," about a Princeton admissions officer in crisis. Korelitz's depiction will reinforce their fear that getting into an Ivy League school takes far more than being an excellent student -- curing cancer might do it, so long as some other 17-year-old doesn't do it first.
Who separates the exceptional kids from those who are merely ''excellent in all the ordinary ways'' in the brutally competitive world of the Ivy League? Portia Nathan, the protagonist of Jean Hanff Korelitz's compulsively readable new novel, is one of those gatekeepers, a 38-year-old Princeton admissions officer whose job it is to cull through them all — the fourth-generation legacy, the dreamy musical savant, the impoverished immigrant with a gift for microbiology — and grant access to the very few.