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Aiming for the Ivy League

Even idiots can get into the best schools in the country. That is, based on the title of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting into Top Colleges, which was co-written by a Guilderland resident.

Marna Atkin said she was approached to provide expert assistance on the books, and was one of two co-authors for the instructional guide on the college application processes.

Atkin was born in New Jersey but moved to the Capital District while in high school.

"This whole [writing] part of it was new to me," she said. "I know what I know."

She has lived in Guilderland for 30 years, for about as long as she has counseled at Albany High School.

"I loved every day of what I did," she said.

Atkin retired a year ago, in June 2008, but noted she loved her experience as a counselor.

"It was a great fit," Atkin said of the transition to writing.

She said she has never written a book before and is not a professional writer, although did pen sections of the book.

She said she was brought onto the project because of her knowledge of the ins and outs of the admissions process.

Although she received her undergraduate degree in elementary teaching, the market was saturated, and she decided to continue her education and sought a master's degree in counseling. She attended Boston University initially and eventually received a graduate degree from the University of Massachusetts.

Atkin said one trend she has noticed in the college admittance process is the difficulty of getting into a top school.

"It's a very different process than it was 10 years ago, and a completely different process than it was 20 years ago," she said.

She said schools once deemed "safety schools" no longer carry that title, and it has become harder to get into good schools across the board.

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