Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good Through College Admissions
It's time to say, "Enough."
Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions marks the first time in history that a broad coalition of college admissions offices have joined forces to collectively encourage high school students to focus on meaningful ethical and intellectual engagement. The report includes 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. It is the first step in a two-year campaign that seeks to substantially reshape the existing college admissions process.
The report includes concrete recommendations in three core areas:
Promoting more meaningful contributions to others, community service and engagement with the public good.
Assessing students’ ethical engagement and contributions to others in ways that reflect varying types of family and community contributions across race, culture and class.
Redefining achievement in ways that both level the playing field for economically diverse students and reduce excessive achievement pressure.
Recommendations for Promoting Community Engagement and Service
Students should be encouraged to engage in meaningful, sustained community service that is authentically chosen, consistent, and well-structured, and that provides opportunity for reflection both individually and with peers and adults. The college admissions process should value this kind of service.
Students should be encouraged to take collective action that tackles community challenges. The college admissions process should value this kind of action.
Students should be encouraged to have authentic, meaningful experiences with diversity that focus on “doing with” not “doing for.” The college admissions process should value these kinds of experiences.
Students should be encouraged to engage in service that develops gratitude and a sense of responsibility for the future. The college admissions process should value this kind of service.
Recommendations for Assessing Ethical Engagement and Contributions to Others Across Race, Culture, and Class
College admissions officers should value contributions to one’s family, such as caring for younger siblings, taking on major household duties or working outside the home to provide needed income.
College admissions officers should seek to assess more effectively whether students are ethically responsible and concerned for others and their communities in their daily lives.
Recommendations for Reducing Undue Achievement Pressure, Redefining Achievement, and Leveling the Playing Field
College admissions officers should prioritizing quality—not quantity—of activities.
College admissions officers should convey a more nuanced approach weighting AP/IB courses.
College admissions officers should disincentivize “overcoaching” in the admissions process.
College admissions officers should work to relieve undue pressure associated with admission tests (SAT and ACT), including making these tests optional, clearly describing to applicants how much these tests actually “count” and how they are considered in the admissions process, and/or discouraging students from taking an admissions test more than twice.
College admissions officers, guidance counselors, and parents should expanding students’ thinking about “good” colleges.
Making Caring Common surveyed over 3,000 young adults and high school students from all over the country. Read more about our findings and recommendations in the Executive Summary (PDF) or by downloading the full report (PDF).