Harvard report aims to improve college admissions

Widely-distributed report offers recommendations for change in 3 college admissions areas.

college-admissionsA new report issued by the Harvard Graduate School of Education and supported by scores of other institutions offers recommendations intended to ease the pressure of the college admissions process and encourage a more level playing field.

Admissions deans and leaders from colleges and universities came together last week to launch Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions.

“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. “As a rite of passage, college admissions plays a powerful role in shaping student attitudes and behaviors. Admissions deans are stepping up collectively to underscore the importance of meaningful engagement in communities and greater equity for economically diverse students.”

The report is the first step in a two-year campaign that intents to change the current higher education admissions process. It seeks to “harness the collective influence of college admissions to send a unified message that both ethical engagement and intellectual engagement are highly important and to more fairly capture the strengths of students across race, class and culture.”

It originated from a meeting at the Harvard Graduate School of Education hosted by Making Caring Common (MCC), a project that helps educators, parents, and communities raise children who are caring, responsible to their communities, and committed to justice. It was written by Weissbourd in collaboration with Lloyd Thacker, Director of The Education Conservancy, and based on a meeting of college admissions deans and other stakeholders in the college admissions process.

(Next page: In which areas can college admissions processes improve?)

Laura Ascione