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Getting Smart Podcast

Dec 30, 2020

Today, Tom is talking with journalist and author, Jeff Selingo, about his new book, Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions. This book was published in September 2020 and was named an Editor’s Choice by the New York Times book review. Jeff has written about higher education for more than two decades and is a New York Times best-selling author of three books. He is also a regular contributor to The Atlantic and is a special advisor for innovation and professor of practice at Arizona State University. Additionally, he co-hosts the Future U Podcast, with Michael Horn.

Listen in as Tom and Jeff talk about what’s going on under the hood of higher ed and what opportunities there are for a more equitable future. Jeff also shares many tips and advice for learners and their families when selecting and applying for the college and universities that are right for them.


Key Takeaways:

[:10] About today’s episode with Jeff Selingo.

[:48] Tom Vander Ark welcomes Jeff to the podcast!

[:52] What percentage of Americans have a post-secondary degree? And is it better than it was twenty years ago? What should we be aiming for?

[1:52] Does Jeff see higher ed changing from something that you do after high school to something that you continue to access throughout life?

[4:53] Should colleges be turning their alumni networks into learning networks?

[6:14] How many institutions are there for American higher ed?

[7:06] The impact that the pandemic is having on these institutions and, in turn, the communities they’re a part of.

[8:32] How many universities are selective?

[9:47] Is it true that a large percentage of young people actually get into their first-choice college?

[10:30] Jeff shares his thoughts on the ACTs and the SATs. Is he pro- or anti-testing?

[12:20] Has college lost its return on investment over the last decade?

[13:20] Tom congratulates Jeff on his new book, Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions.

[13:40] Why did Jeff decide to write this book?

[15:06] While researching his book, Jeff spent a lot of time in three universities in particular. How did he choose them and why? And were these universities selective?

[15:54] How many students did Jeff track at these universities?

[16:15] Is the admissions process better or worse than most would think?

[17:37] What does Jeff mean by, “Schools are either buyers or sellers”?

[18:48] Jeff’s predictions for the future of “buyers.”

[20:32] Jeff’s advice for applicants from his book.

[22:59] How big should your college funnel be? And how do you narrow it down?

[24:02] Does early admission improve your chances of getting in?

[24:33] Is fit or image more important when choosing where to go?

[25:12] How Jeff advises learners and their families on the trade-offs between reputation and cost.

[27:57] What the parents’ role should be in this process.

[28:50] What should the high school experience be so that learners are positioned to make a good choice in selecting which college or university is right for them?

[30:27] What would Jeff add to his book now, given the pandemic?

[31:43] Jeff’s predictions on what college might look like coming out of the pandemic.

[32:14] What does Jeff mean by, “Colleges should recruit all students like athletes”?

[33:15] America seems to have fallen out of love with higher ed in the last few years. Is Jeff optimistic about the future of the sector?

[35:08] Tom plugs Jeff’s book, Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions and gives his recommendation on who should be reading it.

[35:47] Where to learn more about Jeff and his book online.

[36:10] Tom thanks Jeff for joining the podcast.


Mentioned in This Episode:

Jeff Selingo

Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions, by Jeff Selingo

Future U Podcast with Jeff Selingo and Michael Horn

Lumina Foundation

Getting Smart Podcast Ep. 286: “Jamie Merisotis on Human Work in the Age of Smart Machines

Getting Smart Podcast Ep. 297: “Michelle Weise on Long Life Learning

Long Life Learning: Preparing for Jobs that Dont Even Exist Yet, by Michelle Weise

Getting Smart Podcast Ep. 228: “Michael Horn on Choosing College


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