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Juniata Rated Highly in 'Accepted,' New Admissions Guide

(Posted July 22, 2010)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College has been characterized as -- an "overlooked gem," where students seeking a college that is a good match for their interests can succeed and thrive -- in a new book on the college admissions process written by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.

"Acceptance," by David Marcus, higher education reporter for Newsday and 1994 Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter (for the Dallas Morning News), follows seven students from Oyster Bay, N.Y. in their search for a college that fits their talents and aspirations. Marcus focuses the book on the students and on Gwyeth (rhymes with "faith") "Smitty" Smith, a high school counselor who tells his students to concentrate on how a college "fits" them, as opposed to aiming for "prestige" institutions.

"Juniata's innovative and refreshing program allows students to tailor their curriculum to their own interests. If I were to design a college for the 21st century, I would want students to design their own majors."
Gwyeth "Smitty" Smith, counselor, Oyster Bay High School

According to Marcus, Smith compiled a list of 40 "overlooked gems" in the new book. Juniata's inclusion in the list is another ringing endorsement from higher education journalists and ratings guides.

In "Acceptance," Juniata is singled out for its personalized majors, the college's emphasis on critical writing and its commitment to ensure that all graduates understand subjects such as statistics.

"Juniata's innovative and refreshing program allows students to tailor their curriculum to their own interests," says Smith in an e-mail. "If I were to design a college for the 21st century, I would want students to design their own majors."

In addition to "Acceptance," Juniata has been singled out for praise in "Colleges That Change Lives," written by the late Loren Pope, a former New York Times editor; "The Fiske Guide," a college guide compiled by former New York Times education writer Edward "Ted" Fiske; Barron's Best Buys; Forbes.com's "America's Best Colleges" poll; and "Peterson's Competitive College Guide."

Smith also commends Juniata's Peace and Conflict Studies program and praises the college's Inbound program, an orientation program where students ease the transition from high school by coming to college a week early and participating in a program specifically designed to their interests.

Marcus tracks seven students over the course of more than a year "on a journey of self discovery." Over a 40-year career, Smith has always emphasized that a student's comfort with a campus is far more important than a famous name over the entrance.

Through the stories of his student advisees, Smith offers advice on a variety of topics, such as standardized tests, college-prep courses and campus visits. He often suggests that students take demanding courses, while exploring after-school enrollment at community colleges or universities.

Many of the stories covered in "Acceptance" detail the evolution of each student's application essay. Sometimes an incredible essay can sway admissions officers into accepting a borderline applicant, or even a long shot," Smith says.

David Marcus currently writes for Newsday. He started his career at the Miami Herald and worked as a reporter and foreign correspondent for the Dallas Morning News and the Boston Globe. He also was an education writer for U.S. News &World Report.

Published by Penguin Books, "Acceptance" is available at bookstores and online at Amazon.com. It is also available at Juniata's bookstore in the basement of Ellis Hall.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.