Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group


A Novel

Susan Coll

Farrar, Straus and Giroux




A comic chronicle of a year in the life in the college admissions cycle.

It's spring break of junior year and the college admissions hysteria is setting in. "AP" Harry (so named for the unprecedented number of advanced placement courses he has taken) and his mother take a detour from his first choice, Harvard, to visit Yates, a liberal arts school in the Northeast that is enjoying a surge in popularity as a result of a statistical error that landed it on the top-fifty list of the U.S. News & World Report rankings. There, on Yates's dilapidated grounds, Harry runs into two of his classmates from Verona High, an elite public school in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. There's Maya Kaluantharana, a gifted athlete whose mediocre SAT scores so alarm her family that they declare her learning disabled, and Taylor Rockefeller, Harry's brooding neighbor, who just wants a good look at the dormitory bathrooms.

With the human spirit of Tom Perrotta and the engaging honesty of Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep, Susan Coll reveals the frantic world of college admissions, where kids recalibrate their GPAs based on daily quizzes, families relocate to enhance the chance for Ivy League slots, and everyone is looking for the formula for admittance. Meanwhile, Yates admissions officer Olivia Sheraton sifts through applications looking for something-anything-to distinguish one applicant from the next. For all, the price of admission requires compromise; for a few, the ordeal blossoms into an unexpected journey of discovery.


grace saw shimmering trails of light, even when she shut her eyes. The scores of bulbs illuminating the enormous wrought-iron chandelier chained to the rafters of the converted barn had imprinted themselves on her brain, and bursts of white...


Praise for Acceptance

“This delightfully acerbic sendup of the college admissions process is set in a tony suburb of Washington, DC. A group of overachieving students (a "cluster of brainpower...packed so tight, it was like the inner loop of the Beltway at rush hour") fight for what seems an ever-narrowing pool of Ivy League spots (the only ones that matter), state-university scholarships (for the rare student who is financially challenged), and liberal-arts places ("safeties"). The view from the other side of the desk is provided by a character in the admissions department of a newly popular college in upstate New York, which is trawling for kids whose parents can pay for new campus facilities. Coll is alert to the comedy-and the pathos-of a system that leads high-school seniors to solicit recommendation letters from their pediatricians.” —The New Yorker

“Hilarious.” —George Will, Newsweek

“If your teen is among the thousands of high school seniors anxiously awaiting their college acceptance letters, Coll's witty satire of the admission process will provide both of you with some much-needed comic relief.” —Life

“Pay attention, students. This will be on the final. Name the smartest, funniest novel in the growing genre of 'app lit,' books about the college admission process. Is it a) Academy X; b) Jane Austen in Scarsdale; or c) Acceptance? You chose c? Go to the head of the class. . . . Grade A." (Three and a half stars.)” —People

“Coll's tale of the harrowing days of college admission is spot-on. She pokes fun at obsessed teens--like her hero, AP ('Advanced Placement') Harry and the whimsical process of getting in.” —People STYLEWATCH

“Coll's darkly comic novel details the pressure surrounding the college application process in a Washington, DC suburb. Following parents, teens, and university staff, Coll puts an Election-like spin on this highly competitive milieu: The teens are all way more mature than their adult counterparts. The standout is Taylor Rockefeller, a mail-stealing, self-mutilating senior saddled with a snobby, racist mother (at one point, she whines, 'There should be affirmative action for disadvantaged Rockefellers'). . . . Acceptance still bristles with enough wit and ambition to earn honors. B+” —Entertainment Weekly

“The mother of 'three college-aged and about-to-apply-to-college children,' novelist Susan Coll has followed the motto 'Write what you know' with sympathy toward college applicants everywhere and a satirical eye toward the insanely competitive game. This tale is so instructive that high school guidance counselors should be handing it out.” —More

Acceptance is a good read for students (or parents) completing or embarking on the college admissions journey, regardless of the book's jabs at the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings. And it's a good reminder that college applications are a serious, if over analyzed, fact of life.” —

“Having just sent one kid off to college and with a second now preparing to apply, I had shivers of recognition again and again as I read Acceptance. Fortunately, each shiver came along with its corresponding several smiles and chuckles. Susan Coll has written a dead-on satire that's also full of heart, which is a rare achievement.” —Kurt Andersen, author of Heyday

“I don't know why anyone would bother with those big, ugly college admissions manuals when a novel as smart and savvy as Acceptance can give us the same tips, with laughs. Susan Coll could make hell fun--and she does.” —Marilyn Johnson, author of The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries

“ACCEPTANCE is A+ entertainment--witty, clever and unpretentious. Excellent reading for all, but a MUST READ for anyone with teenage children.” —Anita Shreve

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Susan Coll

Susan Coll is the author of and Rockville Pike. She lives outside of Washington, D.C., with her husband, the author and journalist Steve Coll, and their three children.

Susan Coll

© Lauren Shay Lavin

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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