Admissions

A Memoir of Surviving Boarding School

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Pub Date 18 Jan 2022 | Archive Date 18 Feb 2022

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Description

“[C]harming and surprising. . . The work of Admissions is laying down, with wit and care, the burden James assumed at 15, that she — or any Black student, or all Black students — would manage the failures of a racially illiterate community. . . The best depiction of elite whiteness I’ve read.”—New York Times

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Early on in Kendra James’ professional life, she began to feel like she was selling a lie. As an admissions officer specializing in diversity recruitment for independent prep schools, she persuaded students and families to embark on the same perilous journey she herself had made—to attend cutthroat and largely white schools similar to The Taft School, where she had been the first African-American legacy student only a few years earlier. Her new job forced her to reflect on her own elite education experience, and to realize how disillusioned she had become with America’s inequitable system.

In ADMISSIONS, Kendra looks back at the three years she spent at Taft, chronicling clashes with her lily-white roommate, how she had to unlearn the respectability politics she'd been raised with, and the fall-out from a horrifying article in the student newspaper that accused Black and Latinx students of being responsible for segregation of campus. Through these stories, some troubling, others hilarious, she deconstructs the lies and half-truths she herself would later tell as an admissions professional, in addition to the myths about boarding schools perpetuated by popular culture.

With its combination of incisive social critique and uproarious depictions of elite nonsense, ADMISSIONS will resonate with anyone who has ever been The Only One in a room, dealt with racial microaggressions, or even just suffered from an extreme case of homesickness.
“[C]harming and surprising. . . The work of Admissions is laying down, with wit and care, the burden James assumed at 15, that she — or any Black student, or all Black students — would manage the...

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Featured Reviews

This is fascinating, horrifying, and sad all at once. I'm glad to have heard the author's experience, but furious at what was allowed to happen and devastated by what it cost her. The extra burdens placed on the author didn't belong on a teenager, who should have been able to learn and grow as her nerdgirl self without being asked to put up with endless insults and injustices, to say nothing of everyday microaggressions and othering. I hope telling her story was cathartic and that it reaches people who need to hear it.

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review!

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A study in micro aggressions at an elite prep school. This is pretty much what I would imagine the experience for minorities at an elite institution. I don’t know how these students stand it. From being called a thief to having your entire hair routine dissected this seems like more trouble than it’s worth. Distressing and frustrating but realistic!

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