The words “Secrets of Harvard Students” seemed to glisten majestically as I picked up the book. I could practically see a reflection of the gate to Harvard Yard in the promising cover, and I could practically imagine the gate being unlocked as I walked into a world of opportunity. The bold title letters seemed to hold the key to my future.

This is all I need, I thought to myself as I held the book Get into Any College: Secrets of Harvard Students by Gen and Kelly Tanabe. This is the book that contains the true Veritas—the real truth about Harvard admissions.

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Of course I was going to read the book. I know I wanted to hear the big secrets of just what it takes to get into a dream college.

But as it has been said before, often the secret is that there is no secret.

No, this book does not give you the big hint that will guarantee your acceptance to Harvard (that could never be found in a $12.25 book anyway). It doesn’t give you a checklist that, upon completion, creates perfect odds of Harvard acceptance. It doesn’t come with a money-back guarantee if you don’t get into your top choice. It doesn’t wave a wand and grant you acceptance to Harvard.

But it gives you, as the reader, something much more valuable.

It gives you tips and tricks of what it takes to gain acceptance in the competitive atmosphere of our world today. It gives a thorough breakdown of each aspect of the college application process. It provides invaluable resources that you will undoubtedly find yourself returning to time and time again as you advance through the college application process. And most importantly, it gives you the resources to create the best possible application you can create, leaving space for creativity and a chance to really utilize the advice given in the book in a unique way.

Image from Solar General.

Image from Solar General.

While some of the information may seem “basic” to students with advanced knowledge of the college application, there is certainly a plethora of knowledge that can’t be found in any other application book. For example, it contains information about preparing a packet for your recommenders in order to create the best recommendation possible, and it contains a step-by-step process of writing essays when you can’t get out of your brainstorming rut. It contains tips beginning with your ninth grade year all the way to your college interview and even to the point when you’re applying for scholarships.

Better yet, this book isn’t just a straight read-through book. It contains interactive resources, as well as samples and critiques of application components.

Image from Barnes and Noble.

Image from Barnes and Noble.

However, while this book does certainly reveal secrets straight from Harvard students, it is important to note that

these Harvard students—the authors—were not applying when the acceptance rate was a daunting five percent. Some may argue that this undermines the quality of the book, but ultimately the knowledge of Gen and Kelly Tanabe is incredible and unparalleled. The information in this book doesn’t expire with time (or at least it hasn’t yet).

This book doesn’t magically unlock the gate to Harvard Yard and grant your acceptance to Harvard. But it does give you something much greater: a tiny glistening object—an unfinished key—that you can hold with you as you complete your college application process. And each component of the college process forms a part of the key, carving out a mold that—with the help of this book—will eventually lead you to achieving the best you can.

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the author

Annie Schugart is a high school senior from Kansas City, but she will be heading to the East Coast next year to attend Harvard. Annie is editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper, plays flute and was a part of the U.S. Army All-American Band, is the president of the National Teen Council, loves to dance, and is an avid tie-dye enthusiast. She hopes to run for president in 2032, and she hopes someday you'll join her and the world will be as one. ☮

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