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Thursday, March 1, 2012 / 12:00 AM

Review: The Neurotic Parent’s Guide to College Admissions

Review: The Neurotic Parent’s Guide to College Admissions

Getting into college used to be simple: you took the SAT or ACT, filled out several applications, listed your extracurricular activities (football team, softball team, Honors Society, marching band), wrote a few essays about the importance of high school Phys Ed  programs, or how the work and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi influenced you on a daily basis, and you got an acceptance letter and a few rejections, and that was that.

Not anymore.  A recently developed culture of college admissions now sends parents into a tizzy because their children did not go to a preschool with seven rounds of interviews, earn an internship at CERN at age 14, or do not have Tuvaluan heritage.  They have to compensate by shelling out thousands of dollars to hire independent college counselors and waitlist specialists to get their children into an Ivy League (or even a Big Ten) school.

So what’s a parent without a VIP country club membership to do?

Don’t worry: The Neurotic Parent Institute is here to help. Based on her popular satirical blog, J. D. Rothman’s The Neurotic Parent’s Guide to College Admissions provides witty, snarky insight into the admissions process, from faux-applications to essays on buying the right bedding or accepting that your child will most likely end up a barista.  The book is filled various charts and diagrams that will help create the most pretentious sounding application that will get your children into Harvard (after deferment, of course).

The book’s tone is smartly satirical, providing hilarious solutions to real problems and trends that pervade the admissions process.  For instance, many parents now send anonymous letters to colleges, bad-mouthing rival students to increase their own children’s odds of getting in.  Don’t want to stoop to that level?  The Neurotic Parent has the solution: “Choose another college on your child’s rival’s list, and write a glowing recommendation for the dirty rotten scoundrel…This process is a win-win: You can help give a ne’er-do-well a second chance while paving the way for your brilliant, flawless kid to get the break she deserves.”

Rothman also shares excerpts on her blog about the quest to get her son, CJ, into college, and all the neurotically emotional highs and lows along the way.  These excerpts satirize parents’ irrational fears about the process while giving the book a human side.   The humor is biting, but never too mean.  Clearly the author is laughing at herself—as well as everyone else.  Altogether, it’s a smart, wry look at the process that is supposed to make or break our futures, showing that some people might be making a giant, neurotic fuss over nothing.

The Neurotic Parent's Guide to College Admissions is available on amazon.com and at local bookstores.

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