Truth in Humor

April 1, 2016

(Sad) grains of truth about the frenzy some students experience around college selection and admission. Read the satirical piece in they NYT, College Admissions Shocker!

Diverse International Students Celebrating Graduation

Diverse International Students Celebrating Graduation

Rethinking College Admissions

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Frank Bruni, author of Where You Go Is Not Who’ll You’ll Bereflects on the recent changing tide in the college admission process.

Read the entire January, 2016 NYT article here.

20bruniWeb-master675Over recent years there’s been a steady escalation of concern about the admissions process at the most revered, selective American colleges. And little by little, those colleges have made tweaks.

But I get the thrilling sense that something bigger is about to give.

The best evidence is a report to be released on Wednesday. I received an advance copy. Titled “Turning the Tide,” it’s the work primarily of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, though scores of educators — including the presidents and deans of admission at many of the country’s elite institutions of higher education — contributed to or endorsed it. Top administrators from Yale, M.I.T. and the University of Michigan are scheduled to participate in a news conference at which it’s unveiled.

“Turning the Tide” sagely reflects on what’s wrong with admissions and rightly calls for a revolution, including specific suggestions. It could make a real difference not just because it has widespread backing but also because it nails the way in which society in general — and children in particular — are badly served by the status quo.

Focused on certain markers and metrics, the admissions process warps the values of students drawn into a competitive frenzy. It jeopardizes their mental health. And it fails to include — and identify the potential in — enough kids from less privileged backgrounds.

“It’s really time to say ‘enough,’ stop wringing our hands and figure out some collective action,” Richard Weissbourd, a senior lecturer at Harvard’s education school, told me. “It’s a pivot point.”

Is overachieving in high school overblown?

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Highly Selective Colleges Begin To Wonder If Overachieving Is Overblown.

To get into college, Harvard report advocates for kindness instead of overachieving- Washington, Post, 2016

Parents, educators and college administrators have long wrestled with the unintended negative side effects of the admissions process, like the intense focus on personal achievement and the unfair advantages of more affluent students. The report, entitled Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good Through College Admissions, aims to tackle these complex issues. It lays out a blueprint for addressing three of the most intractable challenges facing college applicants today: excessive academic performance pressure, the emphasis on personal achievement over good citizenship, and the uneven opportunities available to students of varying income levels and backgrounds…

“Yes, we want students who have achieved in and out of the classroom, but we are also looking for things that are harder to quantify, [like] authentic intellectual engagement and a concern for others and the common good,” explains Jeremiah Quinlan, dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale University, one of the report’s endorsers.

Read the article here.

What Do College Admissions Officers Really Value?

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What Do College Admissions Officers Really Value?

Advice from “behind the curtain” of one college’s admission process.

Tips from experienced application readers:

 Take time to reflect

Taking time to think about the kind of college experience you want can help you narrow down your list to schools that suit your personal and career goals. While you’re making sure you’re a good fit for the school, make sure it’s also a good fit for you.

McDermott’s last thought: “I think [high school] students should spend a little of time thinking what they liked in high school, what they didn’t like, who they are, and not just going and rushing off and looking at schools and getting in the frenzy.”

Engage

Visiting the campus, having a Skype or phone interview with an admissions counselor, or sitting in on a class shows admissions counselors you’re interested in that particular school. It also gives the school a chance to get to know you better.

“Just like a teacher in the classroom wants a student engaged, we want students engaged in the process with us. I think it makes for better discernment of what a good fit is for both them and for us,” says McDermott.

Don’t “phone-it-in”

When it comes to the application, admissions counselors say the biggest red flag is a sloppy, half-baked essay.

“Or over-thinking the topics so much that it becomes awkward and doesn’t convey the student as it should,” McDermott adds.