Good News: Colleges Say They Are Looking for You, Kind People

During college visits over the past few months, we've heard admissions officers say it again and again: colleges are looking for students who are kind.

“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 (MCC) 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.”

Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern For Others And The Common Good Through College Admissions, is a report arising out of the MCC project and contains “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,“ says Weissbourd, who wrote the report in collaboration with Lloyd Acker, Executive Director of the Education Conservancy.     

The Making Caring Common project’s mission is to help educators, parents, and communities raise children who are caring, responsible to their communities, and committed to justice. According to MCC’s press release, The goals of the report are 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.”        

According to Stuart Schmill, Dean of Admissions, Interim Executive Director of Student Financial Services, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an endorser of Turning the Tide, “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.”

The University of Virginia’s Dean of Admissions Gregory Roberts says UVA is also in agreement with the report. “We support Turning the Tide because we philosophically agree with many of the principal points in the document” says Roberts, such as “promoting, encouraging, and developing good citizenship, strong character, personal responsibility, [and] civic engagement in high school students.”