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September 6, 2013

How I Got Into College

Students all over are starting college this month, and some of them still have a nagging question: what, exactly, got me in? An admissions officer tells us the most wrongheaded things applicants try. And Michael Lewis has the incredible story of how a stolen library book got one man — Emir Kamenica — into his dream school.

Emir as a Harvard undergrad. Photo by Terri Wang.

Prologue

Students all over are starting college this month, and some of them still have a nagging question: what, exactly, got me in? An admissions officer talks about the most wrongheaded things applicants try. And Michael Lewis has the incredible story of how a stolen library book got one man into his dream school. (2 1/2 minutes)
Act Two

My Ames is True

Writer Michael Lewis tells the story of a man named Emir Kamenica, whose path to college started with fleeing the war in Bosnia and becoming a refugee in the United States. Then he had a stroke of luck: a student teacher read an essay he’d plagiarized from a book he’d stolen from a library back in Bosnia, and was so impressed that she got him out of a bad high school and into a much better one. He went on to Harvard and great success. Years later, he tracks down the student teacher to thank her, only to find that she remembers the story differently. (34 minutes)
Act Three

Act Three

Michael Lewis’ story continues, and he figures out why Emir Kamenica insists on remembering, and telling, the story of his life the way he does — even when he finds out that some of the facts may be wrong. (14 minutes)