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Monday, February 1, 2016
Is It Possible to “Turn the Tide” on College Admissions?
Answer: probably not. But a new report, co-signed by over 50 college admissions deans and educators, gives a number of suggestions about how to do so.
The concept of the report sounds good: stop sending high school kids the message that individual success is more valuable than the common good. The purpose of the report, which is the collaborative undertaking by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, certainly has its heart in the right place. And it is taking its message to an important place-college admissions offices.
The hope is, by having so many deans sign off on the idea, the report can help reshape the value set placed on incoming college students. If colleges begin to place greater emphasis on community service than test scores, some of the success pressure might be lifted off the shoulders of young high school students.
Will the theory translate into practice? Well, so far, it's an academic report, so whether its traction will trickle down is questionable. It's utopian emphasis on student engagement in community is highly attractive, but shifting a decades-old value system is an uphill battle.
Colleges have to employ a system of metrics in order to vet candidates. Should an engaged, compassionate student with mediocre grades be invited into an institution where they might be destined to fail academically? By the same token, should a top student with few extracurriculars be given the same consideration?
At the same time, third-level institutions are somewhat responsible for preparing young people to become contributing members of society. Is training an investment banker as important as training a social worker? More importantly, how would such a shift in values affect the financial bottom line?
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