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Jeffrey  Selingo

Jeffrey Selingo

Higher Education Thought Leader, Washington Post Columnist & Best-Selling Author


Jeff Selingo is the author of two New York Times bestsellers, College (Un)Bound and There Is Life After College. For more than twenty years, he has provided insight and practical advice to students, parents, educators, and academic leaders about the inner workings of colleges and universities and what’s next for higher education. Read More >

Jeff’s third book, Who Gets In & Why: A Year Inside College Admissions, by Simon & Schuster was published in September 2020. It takes readers on a journey from the inside of admissions offices, revealing what really matters in the selection process and how ultimately decisions are based a college’s agenda and its priorities rather than the quality of applicants.

As both an observer of higher education and an insider with academic appointments at two universities, Jeff occupies a unique position to explain higher education’s critical and influential role in the world economy. He writes regularly for The Atlantic, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education and is co-host of the podcast, FUTURE U. In addition to college admissions, his reporting and research focuses on the future of work and its impact on lifelong learning, paying for college, the financial sustainability of traditional higher education, and what employers and the public increasingly want in a college degree.

Jeff is a special advisor for innovation to the president at Arizona State University, where he founded and directs the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership. He is a visiting scholar at Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities. Jeff also works with universities and corporations on their innovation strategy and storytelling.

Before his first book in 2013, Jeff was the top editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education, where he was responsible for operations and strategy for the largest division of the company and managed a newsroom of more than 60 reporters and editors and a dozen foreign correspondents. His work has been honored with awards from the Education Writers Association, Society of Professional Journalists, and the Associated Press. He sits on the Board of Trustees at Ithaca College in New York.

Jeff received a bachelor’s degree from Ithaca and a master’s degree from The Johns Hopkins University. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Washington, D.C. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Book Trailer: Who Gets In and Why

The Value of a College Degree

Life After College

College (Un)Bound

The Learning House

The Future of Higher Education

Speech Topics

The Post-Pandemic College & the Student Experience

In an age of instantaneous communication and feedback, surrounded by Amazon 1-click, Netflix preferences, Instagram likes, and Google answers, college campuses remain stuck in an era with an amalgamation of processes, paper, and people sitting in various departments. Now, consumer expectations are now spilling over to higher education. COVID-19 exposed dissatisfaction with the student experience in college and institutions realized that many of their student success efforts were stuck on auto-pilot. The decade ahead in higher education will be about using data, deploying technology, and rethinking legacy structures to make the student experience seamless.

Who Gets In & Why: A Year Inside College Admissions

The pandemic has upended the college search for so many high-school students. And while some old rules of the admissions game no longer apply, teenagers are still competing on the same  playing field. Read More >

Drawing on research from two years spent inside the admissions process—including sitting besides application readers at three selective schools—this talk from Jeff helps students, parents, and high school counselors better understand the shifting landscape and what it takes to get into a top college. Among the key takeaways: Read Less ^

  • Discover why admissions is less about admitting the brightest students and more about a college’s priorities.
  • Hear how colleges evaluate prospective students from grades and high-school courses to essays and recommendations as well as the “shaping” process at the very end that few applicants know about.
  • Learn why you should broaden your notion of what qualifies as a “good college.”
  • Understand how to approach your college search so that you end up with the best academic, social, and financial fit in a campus.

Who Gets In & Why: The Future of Enrollment Management

Admissions has long been the front door to college, controlled by institutional priorities and enrollment management strategies. Now a global pandemic promises to reshape how students arrive at college and the playing field for admissions. Read More >

Based on research from his new book from two years embedded in the college admissions process, Jeff lays out how colleges can best prepare for the decade ahead by meeting students where they are and improving their value proposition in the marketplace. Among the key takeaways: Read Less ^

  • Uncover what colleges and universities have learned from recruiting students in a pandemic and what changes will stick for the long-term.
  • Hear about the students of the next decade and the demographic changes coming to campuses.
  • Discover how institutions should plan for a post-pandemic future and set themselves apart as whole institutions rather than stake their future on a handful of new academic initiatives.
  • Understand the role technology will play and the value of the physical campus.

There Is Life After College: Making the Most of the Undergraduate Years for Success in Life

It’s not good enough anymore to simply gain admission to college and then roll into the job market a few years later. How students go to college—the undergraduate experiences they take advantage of on campuses—matters to how they launch into the job market. Based on research from his New York Times bestselling book and a national survey of twentysomethings, the audience will learn the three primary ways today’s graduates launch from college and how their experiences come to shape the beginning of their careers. This talk is aimed at college leaders, school counselors, employers as well as students and their parents. Among other things, the audience will: Read More >

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  • Gain insight into how young adults can better navigate the route from high school through college and into the economy where the world of work and jobs are changing.
  • Discover the fundamental experiences in and out of school that shape success in the job market today.
  • Learn the skills that prove most helpful, and why some students prosper, while others fail.
  • Hear a hopeful, inspiring blueprint to help alleviate anxiety about preparing for life after college.

2027: The Decade Ahead for Higher Education

What changes are in store for higher education over the next decade? It’s a question being asked by college leaders, faculty members, policy makers, and of course, students and parents. Higher education is on the cusp of far-reaching changes over the next decade where technology is playing a larger role and students, parents, and educators alike are asking what colleges should teach and how learning should be measured in an era of shifting needs in the economy. Drawing on research from his bestselling book, College (Un)Bound, and a follow-up report he authored for The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2016, the audience for this talk includes college leaders, faculty members, policymakers, and high-school administrators. Among their key takeaways: Read More >

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  • Discover the attributes of a new era of higher education, how it differs from the past, and what it means for the future of colleges and universities.
  • Learn about the students of the next decade, and hear about the demographic changes coming to campuses.
  • Hear about the numerous learning pathways that students might follow ten years from now and the credentials they’ll receive from that learning.
  • Understand the role technology will play and the value of the physical campus.