Acceptance: A Legendary Guidance Counselor Helps Seven Kids Find the Right Colleges--and Find Themselves
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An engrossing profile of an extraordinary guidance counselor who helps kids get into the right colleges through focusing on self- awareness
Gwyeth Smith, known as Smitty, is a nationally renowned guidance counselor who believes that getting into college should be a kid's first great moment of self-discovery. In Acceptance, David L. Marcus, Pulitzer Prize-winning former education writer for U.S. News & World Report, spins an absorbing narrative of a year in the lives of Smitty and "his" kids.
At a diverse public school in Long Island, New York, Smitty works his unique magic on students' applications and their lives, helping them find the right college by figuring out who they are, rather than focusing on what their test scores, grades, and finances reflect. Loaded with advice that readers can apply to their own college searches, Acceptance is a book that thousands of students and their parents will find indispensable.
dollars per ninety-minute session to advise students. Each year, he and Smitty would rib each other about who was doing better in placing kids. Together this week, they’d flown in early to visit the University of Houston, Baylor, and Southern Methodist University. At Rice, they got a tour with Brady, a young man who’d graduated three months earlier from Oyster Bay. With Smitty’s encouragement, he had turned down Cornell and five other universities to study engineering at Rice. As he showed Smitty
how he’d come up with his list. At first the mom seemed disappointed when Nathaniel didn’t get Smitty as his counselor. Deanna, who looked as young as an undergraduate student, had to convince her that she knew plenty about admissions. She’d earned a master’s degree in counseling at Fordham. She pointed out that she worked in the office next to Smitty’s and sought his counsel when she needed it. When Nathaniel showed up in the office that Thursday, his long wavy hair was unkempt, his T-shirt
hit by a train in a summer storm, Layla felt like she’d lost a father, too. She was there in Essay Writing when Ms. Reilly had read the opening sentences of Kasper’s essay. Layla choked up as Ms. Reilly got to the one-word sentence about how Kasper would no longer hear his father’s voice: “Silence.” If kids asked about her life, Layla said, they’d understand her drive to do well in school. She had family and friends who drank and did drugs. She had a cousin who had mental-health problems, and
downside was the November 1 deadline. By now, the mood in the room had grown somber, so Ms. Reilly asked the kids what they’d done over the summer. Jeff had scooped ice cream, Chelsea had taught kids to sail, and Lee had attended a youth leadership conference that included a trip to visit inmates in Sing Sing prison. A few kids had traveled overseas. Some had been babysitters, camp counselors, and one was a short-order cook. Mr. Smith liked those answers. He knew too many students who
firefighter, and now Jeff was following tradition. Jeff liked to say he’d rather be busy than bored, and the last six hours were a good example. He’d arrived home from basketball practice in the evening, hung out with his cousins, did his homework, and then went to a meeting at the firehouse. When a call came in for an emergency, Jeff all but begged the chief to let him suit up. A few hours later, Jeff’s first stop at school was the guidance office. “Mr. Smith, guess what—” Smitty listened and