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Exposing the crazy, changing world of college admissions

Author, journalist and former White House speechwriter Andrew Ferguson has had an accomplished career since his days as an undergrad at Occidental College. But even he wasn’t prepared for what the college admissions process looks like these days.

Author, journalist and former White House speechwriter Andrew Ferguson has had an accomplished career since his days as an undergrad at Occidental College. But even he wasn’t prepared for what the college admissions process looks like these days. His latest book, “Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting His Kid Into College” chronicles his journey through the college admissions process with his son — finding plenty of horror, hilarity and hucksterism along the way.

Since you’re a well-known conservative, I was surprised you didn’t take a tougher stance with your son.

Like a sink or swim kind of policy??I suppose the whole process is a conflict between the heart and the head. If I had the head rule the process, I would have said, “Damn it, this is your thing, you go buy all the books, you go do the searches.” But college admissions is a process of the heart.

What does your son think of the book?

He’s only read the parts of it he’s in. The rest of it just bored the hell out of him. We’ve gone on TV a few times to talk about it. He likes that a lot. I think he thinks it helps him with girls, which it may.

What about college admissions has changed since you were a student?

Colleges are spending huge amounts of money selling themselves to kids. Parents and students are spending incredible amounts to pay for college and to make the kid look attractive to the college. My last year [at Occidental] cost roughly $5,000. If it had kept pace with inflation, it would be a little over $16,000. Instead it’s over $45,000. That’s an astonishing increase that no one has been able to explain to parents, so I try to do that in the book as well.

Are you surprised at the response to the book?

I’m still waiting for the hate mail to come in from college admissions offices. But I’m not surprised it touched a nerve.

 
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