Be a Good Person: Get Admitted to College

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 3.16.11 PMBe a good person: Get into college.

Well – it’s not quite a simple as that but it is true that the rules of the game of college admissions are changing.

This week admissions deans and other leaders from the nation’s top colleges and universities joined together to announce the launch of Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions, a report with concrete recommendations to reshape the college admissions process and promote greater ethical engagement among aspiring students, reduce excessive achievement pressure, and level the playing field for economically disadvantaged students.

They haven’t given up on academic achievement and scholarship but they have re-assessed the role of ethical engagement as shown in concern for others and sustained service and commitment to the common good.It’s a welcome shift in emphasis.

Advanced Placement, Money, Sleep and Depression

“The report recommends less emphasis on standardized test scores, which largely correlate with family income. It asks colleges to send a clear message that admissions officers won’t be impressed by more than a few Advanced Placement courses. Poorer high schools aren’t as likely to offer A.P. courses, and a heavy load of them is often cited as a culprit in sleep deprivation, anxiety and depression among students at richer schools.” 

Certainly agree with that!  Read the whole report here.

 Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions  For more information and  the full report go to Making Caring Common

As of this week, Turning the Tide has been endorsed by a growing list of 85 stakeholders across college admissions and education many of whom are already committed to implementing major changes.

The Why?

Here’s how they describe the Why:

“Too often, today’s culture sends young people messages that emphasize personal success rather than concern for others and the common good,” said Richard Weissbourd, senior lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-director of the Making Caring Common Project.

“Escalating achievement pressure is not healthy for our youth. Young people are suffering from higher rates of depression, anxiety and substance abuse as they juggle the demands of their lives. Many students, especially those from low-income families, are often discouraged due to limited access to the resources perceived as necessary for selective college admissions. It’s a double-edged sword,” said Kedra Ishop, associate vice president for enrollment management at the University of Michigan

The What? and The How?

The report has recommendations to  promote the quality of academic engagement over the quantity of achievements in college admissions. It’s not the laundry list of academic achievements, projects and service initiatives that makes the difference but the quality of that engagement with academic work and with making a positive difference in the world through sustained  and sincere commitment and caring.

“In response to the report, Yale has agreed to add a question on next year’s application asking students to reflect on their contribution to family, community, and/or the public good. We will also advocate for more flexibility in the extracurricular forms on both the Common Application and Coalition Application so that schools can more easily control how they ask students to list and reflect on their extracurricular involvement.”

“With this initiative, we are turning our attention to a critical developmental time in our children’s lives. Clearly, our current admissions landscape emphasizes extremely important traits, aptitudes, and achievements. And yet we owe our students a paradigm that goes beyond our current schema,” said Diane Anci, vice president for enrollment – dean of admission and financial aid, Kenyon College.

“In Turning the Tide, we are granting our children permission, space, and time to develop their analytical strength, their empathic and generative selves, and their inner lives of reflection, values, and aspirations. We will reward them by emphasizing depth of commitment over breadth of resume, strength of purpose over multiple application fillers.  In shifting our focus, we hope to inspire students to use their high school years as truly formative. We aspire to the goal of matriculating students who have an internal clarity and drive that will propel them forward through their college years and beyond.”

“This report communicates our expectations much more clearly to applicants. We don’t want students who do things just because they think they have to in order to get into college. To the contrary: we want students who lead balanced lives, who pursue their interests with energy and enthusiasm, and who work cooperatively with others, all of which will help them be successful in and after college,” said Stuart Schmill, dean of admissions, interim executive director of student financial services, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

And all of this is good for students and is very much in line with our thinking and our program here at PDS.

1 Comment

  1. Progress. 🙂

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