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Articles / Applying to College / Who's Who: Is It Worthwhile?

Who's Who: Is It Worthwhile?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Dec. 12, 2002

Question: Over the summer, I received an application for my daughter to be in Who’s Who Among American High School Students. She said it was no big deal and that all students get them. I recently found out that not all students do get that offer, but I have already thrown away the application. How can I go about getting another one?

Visit the Web site below to contact the Who’s Who folks, if you want another application.


Your daughter, however, is right. Who’s Who is primarily a money-making outfit that takes advantage of high school students (and, especially, their doting parents) by listing names and achievements in their “selective” book and then selling this book to families for a ridiculously steep price.

It’s true that not all students are invited to apply or selected for inclusion. That’s part of the racket. If every kid in your daughter’s class had been singled out, then you’d sniff the scam right away. The idea is to make you think that only the cream of the crop pass muster.

While Who’s Who indeed lists many outstanding young people, it is not an honor to be tapped for it, and college admission officials aren’t the least impressed when they see it on an application. In fact, at the more elite colleges it can almost have the opposite effectâ€"that is, its inclusion on a roster of honors and awards suggests that the candidate is provincial or naïve.

So, our advice is to save your money. Perhaps you can use it to take your daughter out to celebrate her accomplishments (and yours as a parent!) in a more meaningful way.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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