Cover Image: Get Real and Get In

Get Real and Get In

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Member Reviews

Get Real and Get In starts with the author, Dr. Aviva Legatt, leaning hard on her credentials (she worked for a few years as an admissions officer at the University of Pennsylvania) and then giving readers an insight into her privileged upbringing in Princeton, NJ. Legatt’s regular use of coded terms like “elite” and the name dropping of a famous classmate at her rich public school (multiple times) set out to impress and connect with wealthy readers and potential clients in a way that is painfully obvious and a bit embarrassing to read. Similarly, when providing examples of individuals’ college searches in her book, she opts to use individuals like Adam Grant - not because his process is particularly unique or interesting but likely because he is a famous professor and author who works at the university where Legatt had a brief stint in admissions. Several more famous/quasi-famous individuals are used as examples that appear to be solely for name recognition and the association with their personal brands. The format is fairly scripted where one of these famous individuals is highlighted and then Legatt shares a story about one of her clients that pays for services to better display their “authentic” selves to admissions committees or increase their SAT or ACT test scores. Having spent most of my career in admissions, I don’t find that the individuals selected offer a particularly broad range of the types of lived experiences or college searches that students today have.

When the author ponders why she may have gained admission to NYU as a high school student she cites demonstrated interest, alumni connections (“I was a triple legacy”), and her attendance at a wealthy public high school despite having “extremely average” grades and test scores for NYU and being on the “lower end of my other classmates who applied”. The power and privilege that this author admits to benefitting from in the admissions process is what admissions and enrollment professionals are working hard to undo in 2021. The author sums up her extremely privileged advantage as “hard work and luck”. 

These opening pages should give readers a good understanding of the lack of expertise and understanding that the author has when it comes to college admissions and advising students. If the author is unable to identify and understand her own privilege and how it paved the way for her to gain admission over more qualified students who may come from a different socioeconomic background, one should not have any faith or trust in this individual to provide helpful or “expert” - as the author describes herself - advice whether they be a reader of her book or a client for her various application “polishing” services.

Ultimately, the author sets out promising to teach her readers how to be “authentic”. While this premise may sound like satire, I assure you, the author appears genuine in her approach. I will say that the author has provided some sample tools that aren’t too bad for students to use for reflection and understanding what they’re looking for in a college. That said, the questions are fairly standard and similar tools can be found for free with a quick Google search and without the author’s extended commentary on each question.

The organization and framework of the book is decent and walks the reader through the rough chronological order of a traditional college search for an affluent high school student. 

The quality of the content leaves much to be desired. The author is not a strong writer and tends to ramble aimlessly within each topic without providing a clear and concise narrative. The book is best described as an attempt by an individual with some limited admissions experience - but little awareness of the strong influence of privilege and bias in admissions - attempting to provide stream-of-consciousness advice to students by overexplaining some basic prompts and questions that are traditionally used to help students reflect and understand their priorities in the college search.

I would not recommend this book and find the author’s claims to be a college admissions expert greatly exaggerated.
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Better that the Cookie Cutter Approach to College Applications

This book is a must read for anyone applying to college in the near future and for those parents and counselors helping them. The focus of the book is on being yourself. The author, who has experience in selecting college applicants, says colleges are not interested in seeing a stack of applications that can hardly be told apart. They’re interested in diversity and students who are doing things they care about. Her story in the opening pages illustrates this perfectly. 

The book contains information on applying, stories of applicants, and questions for the reader to help decide who they really are and what they want. The author makes a good point that college is not the end of life; it’s the beginning. You get a better start if you’re at a place where you can pursue your real goals rather than trying to grab a place in a prestigious institution that doesn’t fit. 

I highly recommend this book. 

I received this book from St. Martin’s Press for this review.
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This is a must-read for all high school seniors (and their parents)! Dr. Legatt not only provides excellent insights and advice, she also gives exercises and tools to help figure out what one's true path should be. She utilizes interviews and stories with folks in all kinds of careers, and with all kinds of college experiences, to show that anything is possible once you know that you want it!

I wish that I had a book like this before I went to college - at least I can share it with my own kids, when they are old enough!
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This book has some really great information for students looking for colleges and trying to make decisions for their future. There is also advice for life after college. The book is full of examples of successful people and clients of the author who show how her advice has worked in their lives. The author offers practical advice that would benefit any high schooler preparing for college.
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I have read several books on college admission over the past few years. Get Real and Get In is among, if not the, top book I've come across. Dr. Aviva Legatt has spent years in the academic world working as a professor, a counselor, and an admissions officer in Ivy League! You'd be hard pressed to find an author more suited to giving sound logical advice than  Dr. Legatt. takes a practical approach to helping students shed the many mistakes students tend to make when it comes to applying for college, and instead teaches students to think outside the box, to be creative, authentic, and desired by the colleges they desire. 

If you know anyone looking to start the college admission process within the next few years this book is a must give gift that any student will thank you for upon reading. As a parent it is also helpful to read this book in order to help guide your children in the right direction. 

Highly recommended to anyone even thinking of reading this book. You won't regret it, and may even breathe a little easier as you move along within this guide. 

Thank you to netgalley, publishers, and Dr. Aviva Legatt for providing an advanced e-copy in exchange for my honest opinion. All thoughts and recommendations are unprompted and sincere.
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As a parent and an educator I have read many books about college admissions. This is perhaps the best.  Dr. Legatt gives many tips for prospective students on how to present their “true selves” to college admissions officers.  Her suggestions, are practical, doable, and generally cost free.  She illustrates all of her pointswith anecdotes from students she has worked with in her college counseling as well as stories of successful, sometimes famous, adults.  She provides an excellent contrast to the ‘be the best at everything” philosophy some students adhere to.  The earlier chapters also provide a series of exercises for students that help remind them of their goals and talents.  The latter chapters include more helpful tips using examples of adults past their academic experience. This should be required reading for high school students (as well as their parents) and part of every college counseling library.  I thank St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this ARC.
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I received a complimentary copy of Get Real and Get In from NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

This book contains very sound advice.  I would be inclined to believe that the guidance found within its pages would be quite successful for college admission, as well as for leading a genuinely happy life.
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I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley.

This book is a great resource for high school students who are thinking about college. Getting into the "best" college really means getting into the "best" college for a particular student. The book includes questions for introspection and activities to help students understand who they are and what direction they want to follow. There are a lot of good ideas in the book.

It is also a valuable tool for parents, teachers, guidance counselors, or others involved with the college selection/admission process.
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Thank you St. Martin's Press & Netgalley for sending me an ARC of Get Real and Get In by Dr. Aviva Legatt. 

Get Real and Get In covers all things from the college process, applications and mental health during the season. Legatt offers an in depth and personal approach to such a crisis filled and worrying parts of teenager's lives. The book was educated and informative, but still interesting and heartwarming. Overall a great book for teens, in some areas a bit slow but really that's what is to be expected of books like these.
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I wish I could make this required reading for all my anxious, college-obsessed juniors and seniors. They get so caught up in the insanity of the college admissions process and thinking they have to fit themselves into the same cookie-cutter mold as everyone else just to get into the "right" school--all without anyone ever asking or caring if a particular school is the right one for them specifically. I appreciate Dr. Legatt's emphasis on the college having to fit the student and that being true to yourself is the best way to view the admissions process.
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