Do you think there is too much pressure on college applicants? Is resume building taking up your life as a high school student? Making Caring Common, a report recently released by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, attempts to tackle what it defines as too much focus on academic achievement, personal competition, and uneven opportunities that prevail in the college application process.
Now that the report has been endorsed by admissions officers and others, there could be a new way to get into college without all the pressures. For example, Yale has added an essay about what an applicant has contributed to the community or the public good, and its application is now more flexible in listing an applicant’s extracurriculas.
Here are some ways colleges are considering for altering their admission application.
• Instead of giving space for brag sheets, some colleges may limit listings of activities and ask for a description of 2 to 4 activity areas that students have found most defines them. Also, colleges may limit application space for listing AP courses and have applicants demonstrate a concentration in their academic interest.
• Applications may place more emphasis on a teen’s contributions to family and community. For example, some teens work to contribute financially and some stay at home to help with elderly family members or young children instead of taking part in school activities and sports.
• More colleges will look at making ACT/SAT tests optional to place less emphasis on test scores.
• Colleges will look for meaningful experiences over travel and volunteering in exotic places.
Parents can also help in this new way of looking at college admission that is broader based and more authentic.
• Parents can influence their teens to choose classes that are of interest to them and to find more meaningful volunteering.
• Parents should have teens take the ACT or the SAT, or both, just once. In this way students can use scores to make a good college match to their ability.
• Parents should encourage teens to engage in activities for at least one year and to volunteer by working with constituents and not for them.
Obtaining admission to a college may become less about competing and more about better defining the college experience a student wants that fits their abilities and interests.