Travaris Spears, who plays Nelson, the adopted son of John Halsey (Paul Rudd) found himself receiving a lot of advice on the shoot, not just about acting but also about the admissions process; personal anecdotes of past and present experiences were frequently discussed. Whether it was about getting into college, high school, middle school or preschool, everyone seemed to have a story.
Tina Fey reveals, "I did apply to Princeton, because it was a dream of my mother's that one day I would try to go there. I was a good student, but I wasn't 'Princeton material,' as Wallace Shawn's character would say. I remember thinking at my Alumni Interview that they were not interested in me at all, that it was completely perfunctory.
"So I did not get into Princeton, but I went to a great school - the University of Virginia."
Nat Wolff did not have the luxury of Fey's reflective perspective. Before filming, he was "anxious because I was just starting the college admissions process. I was having meetings with my college advisor three days after I read the script, and then while preparing for the movie. It's a stressful and intense process for students. Instead of visiting colleges, I worked on this movie!"
The system is a bit different in the United Kingdom, points out Michael Sheen. He recalls, "I wanted to go to Oxford University to study English, but I realized that I wouldn't be able to study both Drama and English. I did go to Oxford to take the exam. I got through that, so then what happens is you go to the college and you meet the Dons [or, Professors]. I was in this very grand room with these eccentric-looking people. They asked me who my favorite writer was.
"By that point, I'd realized this was not for me. Rather than name someone who I knew would impress them like Camus or Blake or Dostoyevsky, I said Stephen King - who was in fact my favorite writer. They feigned not knowing who he was, and life as an actor beckoned." Sheen would go on to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London.
Executive producer Caroline Baron had been Stateside, and is an alumnus of Brandeis University.