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How Harvard and 90 other leading universities want to help our kids care!

Universities want to help our kids be more caring people who pursue their passions, develop their strengths and make a contribution to the world!

In a recent report called “Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions,” Harvard, and more than 90 universities across the U.S., recognized that the college application process is forcing students to focus too much of their energy on personal achievement and success by building long brag sheets and taking AP courses.  These universities believe this resume arms race our kids are forced to run is inhibiting their capacity to “become more generous and humane in ways that benefit not only society but the students themselves.” They want to use the powerfully positioned college application process to motivate a shift from personal achievement to inspiring concern for others and the common good.

This is very exciting news for us Life Guides, but more importantly it’s great news for our kids!  Even if your child doesn’t plan to go to Harvard or one of these 90 universities or if you don’t live in the U.S., this report and these leading institutions have taken a stand that will also impact you.  They have decided that it is time to change how our society measures achievement and success. Rather than valuing the quantity of a student’s experiences, these universities now want to assess the quality of a student’s experiences.  

Naturally, change will not come overnight!student application

However, as the title of this report indicates, the Tide is Turning!

I am so excited about this because it is consistent with what I have been doing with my own kids and everything we are doing here at Arkevita.

This report is essentially saying these universities want our children to develop a strong character foundation and a genuine interest in their role as a contribution to the world. They want our kids to develop their Roots & Wings!

The goal in this new admissions process is for students to be able to demonstrate not only meaningful academic engagement (which is clearly a pre-requisite for university life), but also a passion for learning and a real concern for the public good.  They want to see students leading well balanced lives, creatively shaping their world and confidently communicating their experiences through the admissions process.  Standardized tests are also being de-emphasized, and we may even see some universities eliminate their use in the selection process because of this report!

The real key here is that these universities want to see “depth” of experience and not a shallow “breadth” of experiences from our kids.

This report was issued by the Making Caring Common Project, a Harvard school of education initiative, and is essentially defining a movement that is taking shape across the country.

For example, another similar but separate consortium called the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success, which is made up of largely the same universities in the Making Caring Common Project, is putting this Turning the Tide report into action. They are launching a new standard college application this year called the Coalition Application.

This application seeks to make college education more accessible and affordable by using technology to allow our kids to build, store, and share their individual creative productions with prospective universities. The application enables each student to create an online profile and portfolio that can highlight what makes them unique in a way that the existing “Common Application”, now broadly used across the entire university spectrum, does not allow.

Furthermore, it enables an earlier engagement with the application process allowing for meaningful guidance from mentors and counselors, a reduction in that senior year application anxiety, and, hopefully, better matchmaking with universities that can help our kids reach their life goals.

So, to recap, we’ve got some great news!

  • Universities want our kids to become real human beings that care about others.
  • Universities (still) want our kids to show meaningful academic engagement.
  • Universities want our kids to be more creative individuals.
  • Universities want to provide our kids with an application process they can use to effectively communicate their personal passions and unique capabilities.

The future of education is getting even brighter!

So, even if your kids aren’t yet old enough to begin thinking about college, this report should encourage us Life Guides to steer clear of the over-parenting, over-coaching, resume-building trap and focus instead on what really matters. 

We should be helping our kids develop their character, creative and communication skills as well as their sense of self and purpose in today’s world.

These attributes are the ultimate tools that will help them succeed in life, and it’s great to see that some of the world’s leading universities are now telling us they plan to value these things as well!

Let me know what you think!  Please share your comments below.


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