Love, Glitter Girl

A little bit of this and a little bit of that about all the stuff & the things

Pizza and College?  What do those have to do with one another besides the fact that you eat a lot of one while you are spending a lot of time at the other?  In terms of this post, nothing really except the goodness of each!  Today, it is all about Cattivella Denver and a quick synopsis of “Who Gets Into College and Why” by Jeffrey Selingo.

Cattivella Denver

Cattivella Denver is one of our favorite dine-in Italian restaurants in Denver and probably the one we visit most often (it helps that is 1.5 miles from our house). Owned and operated by Chef Elise Wiggins, the name in and of itself fits me to a tee (only sometimes!).  Cattivella translates to “naughty girl” – I wonder if Chef Elise, like me, has some secrets – LOL.

Something really unique about Cattivella is that the wood fired oven was brought over from Italy; and Chef Elise makes it a priority to make an Italian pilgrimage with her chefs to study traditional Italian cooking techniques once per year.  And, it shows!  Every dish we have tasted is a party for the tastebuds.

Of course, my favorite is the Salumi Calabrese pizza. Just the right amount of heat to make the pizza really interesting.  And, that wood fired crust – nothing beats it.  Oh, and I did mention Happy Hour?  Since Cattivella is not just a pizza restaurant (translate: it is a more upscale dining experience than a pizza joint), it is nice to be able to go for Happy Hour where Chef Elise makes many of her items in smaller portions with smaller price tags.  We enjoy both for HH and an evening out.

Cattivella does not disappoint.  Consistent, delicious, festive, fun and overall, an A++++ for a nice evening out.

Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions by Jeffrey Selingo

Some of you, like me, may have children who are embarking on their college search in a very different and uncertain world. We really have no idea how the pandemic will shape college admissions.  There will be change.  However, my guess is there will be a lot of constants too and Jeffrey Selingo in his book, Who Gets In and Why – A Year Inside College Admissions, provides an in depth look at what many of those constants likely will be.   However, before we delve in, I want to lay out some GUTS for you.

The Guts

One, I am trying not to be the parent who measures his/her parental success on the college that their child attends.  It is super hard for me.  There I said it.  It is hard but I think I am almost passed that.

Two, there are things that Eva needs to do if she wants to get into the college of her choice.  Did you see that – Eva, she, her?  That is right, Eva needs to do them.  Not Hilary.  It is super hard to let Eva take the lead.  I am 85% successful – in other words, a B.  I will take the B.

Three, you may judge me – that’s ok.  We hired a college consultant to help us with this journey.  NOT to: pay to get into college, pull strings, make our child a genius or write her essays.  Nope, none of that. We hired her so that we kept our noses out of the process as much as possible with the end goal of getting through the teenage years and this journey without losing the wonderful relationship we have with our daughter.  That is why I have a B. And, it is not lost on me, that we are very lucky to be in the position to do that.  It is also not lost on me that because we are in the position to do that, that we feel like we need to do that. (ie, maybe have been a little too involved in things leading to this point – wink, wink)

The Skinny on the Book

So, the good news is I am a B.  The bad news is I am a B.  When my friend mentioned this book to me along with the Fiske Guide to Colleges, I immediately snapped them both up.  (sidenote: if I leave you with one thing besides the nuggets I gleaned from Selingo’s book, it is to buy the Fiske Guide and gift it to your child.  It is an invaluable resource).  In my mind, I thought, “Yes!  This is it!  The secret code Eva needs for getting into the college of her dreams”  See why I am only getting a B?

I should get an F for even thinking that nonsense for a second.  No secret code.  However, a very well-written, authentic and informative look into the world of college admissions.  And, the bottom line – there is no secret formula for getting into the college of your dreams.

It is not all bad news though.  There are some certainties – grades and the level of difficulty of your courses, counts and is in their control. And, if the school accepts test scores those should track with the grades.  In their control.  Teacher recommendations and personal essays matter.  Your kiddo may want to start thinking about the teacher recs as a sophomore or junior.  Build those relationships – it does not bode well if the teacher has no idea who the student really is.  Essays speak to character – and more importantly how that character will translate to engagement in the particular college.  Don’t just copy and paste – actually understand what is important to the college and make sure the essay aligns.  Again, in their control.

Extracurriculars, they matter too.  Gain some depth – or leadership in activities.  Show commitment.  Totally in their control. Oh, and don’t forget that they should let the college know they are interested – take virtual tours, attend info sessions, tell them for goodness sake if the school is their first choice.

Finally, athletic recruitment matters if your kiddo is really good at a sport.  Legacy gives an edge as well.  For most, NOT in their control.

The Bottom Line

So, the “in their controls” have it.  If they ace all that is in their control, that means they will get in, right?  Nope, sorry – not for many schools.  And, that is because admissions officers are looking at a class holistically – not your student on an individual basis.  So, your student could have everything above to a tee, and the spot ends up going to a kid who is majoring in Anthropology from Montana because he checks certain boxes for the school.  And, if they want to go to Yale or Harvard, for 99%, the answer is “not gonna happen.”  And, if it does, the kid had 100% on all the things outlined above (maybe even including legacy and athletic recruitment), and also had a dose of luck thrown in.  Same for some of the next tier schools.

Well, then it is is hopeless, right?  Absolutely not.  The key is to not focus on one school.  Especially if that school is among the most competitive in the nation.  Instead, get to know a lot of schools.  Choose several in each range – easier to get into, 50/50 and reach.  Get out of the mindset that there is only one school for each student.  Get out of YOUR mindset that little Janie or Johnny has to attend YOUR alma mater!  There are thousands of schools – just because it isn’t an Ivy or in the top US News & World Reports rankings, does not mean it is not a great school.  (by the way, some of the things those rankings are based on are kinda bogus)  And, that leads to the real bottom line: the school does not make the student; rather the student makes the student no matter where they go!

There you have it.  That is what I gleaned, key word: I.  I encourage you to read the book to gather even more helpful nuggets 🙂  But, wait – didn’t I say Eva should be doing all this?  Ladies, I have a B, remember.  And, if you are really an over-achiever in this, get the book and gift to your child 🙂  Or be like me – accepting that you are a B :)))

Have you been through the process with your student and have some nuggets to share?  Or have gained additional insight?  Please contribute to the conversation by leaving a comment below.  

In closing, Eva has a list of 15 schools I think.  Of those, I am pretty sure she has a top choice.  I am also pretty sure that she would be ok with 14 of the 15 (because one is a safety school that we are all making her keep on the list – there is that B again). If you notice, I used “think”, “pretty sure” – making progress!

We have no doubt that wherever she goes, she will forge a path.  Her path.  And, we look forward to watching the journey.



*If you click or purchase a book from the links provided, I may get a small commission.

4 thoughts on “Pizza and a Book! Cattivella & “Who Gets In and Why: A Look Inside College Admissions”

  1. Great guidance and recommendations. Thanks, Hilary! So much family energy and focus goes in to the college decision, and it’s a high stakes decision for an 18 year old kid! “What if I choose the ‘wrong school’?” “What if I go and I’m not happy?” “What if I go out of state, but find out I want to be closer to home?” It’s a lot of pressure for these already tightly wound kids. A friend gave me some advice that I find valuable, and diffuses some of the stress – encourage them to make the best decision for RIGHT NOW. In a year or two, they may choose to make a different decision. It doesn’t mean they made the wrong decision initially and it’s by no means a sign of failure or weakness; it’s just time to pivot. New experiences, maturity, and adversity create opportunity for new perspectives.

  2. Hilary, You have done such a wonderful job summarizing the book and I hope many parents have the chance to read your summary. One of my favorite quotes in the book is something like: “It’s not where you go to college, but how you go.” I wish for all students looking for a college to focus on the search being about self-discovery and self-efficacy. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *