What You Don't Know Can Keep You Out of College

What You Don’t Know Can Keep You Out of College

A Top Consultant Explains the 13 Fatal Application Mistakesand Why Character Is the Key to College Admissions

Written by: Don Dunbar
Written by: G.F. Lichtenberg

Additional Formats
  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781440623592
  • 224 Pages
  • Avery
  • Adult


In the tradition of The Gatekeepers, a veteran counselor provides the missing key to the college admissions door with insider wisdom about how admissions committees think, and the thirteen fatal mistakes that can ruin an application.

When Don Dunbar was a college counselor for Phillips Academy, Andover, in the 1980s, he got to sit in on the meetings where the nation’s top colleges decided whether to admit his students. Prep school counselors no longer get this kind of astonishing access, but in those meetings, Don discovered a little-known key to college admissions that still holds true today. Many applicants look alike, based on their grades, test scores, and extracurriculars, so colleges want something more: They want applicants with character.

Most of us know what character means, but not in the way that admissions officers define it. Admissions officers have tremendous integrity, and to them, character equals what a student will contribute to his or her community, good or bad, over the next four years. Don explains the concept of character in terms that high school students can understand, using examples from his thirty years of working with kids. He shows readers how to avoid the thirteen fatal character mistakes that even the brightest students make when applying to college and democratizes the admissions process, making his advice available to all students.


In this refreshing and informative book, Don Dunbar puts a human face on applying to college. From his decades of experience in the field, Dunbar infuses the application process with a spirit of character and integrity. How just it is that the care and caring in these pages will unfailingly help applicants to achieve success. (Richard Lederer, teacher, author, and public radio broadcaster)

This book concentrates on getting into college the honest way. It’s no ‘quick fix.’ It emphasizes maturity and the ability to see yourself as others might see you. Don doesn’t tell students to pretend to be someone they are not– he advises them to try to evolve into someone they’d like to be. (Ted Sizer, former headmaster of Philips Academy, Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and founder of the Coalition of Essential Schools, and Nancy Sizer, teacher at Harvard and public and private schools, including Philips Academy)