Yale is Adding a New Essay on Engagement in the Community

yaleTurning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions is already making waves in the world of college admissions. Yale has publicly announced that it will be adding a new essay option focusing on engagement in the community. According to this article, Jeremiah Quinlan, dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale University, stated that Turning the Tide expresses many of Yale's concerns with the admissions process:

"Turning the Tide does a tremendous job articulating many of the things we have looked at for a long time at Yale. In response to the report, Yale has agreed to add a question on next year's application asking students to reflect on their contribution to family, community, and/or the public good. We will also advocate for more flexibility in the extracurricular forms on both the Common Application and Coalition Application so that schools can more easily control how they ask students to list and reflect on their extracurricular involvement."

Expect to see more schools following suit.

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The Future of College Admissions

making caring commonWe are all aware of the pressures students feel to achieve, and how they have resulted in devastating consequences in recent years. Unfortunately, the reality of the college admissions process ensures that only a small percentage of students get admitted to top schools. While this is unlikely to change, colleges are slowly working to transform the admissions process in an effort to temper the negative side effects students currently face, aiming to place more value on a students' overall character as expressed in their college essays and activity choices.

According to this article by the Washington Post, the report entitled Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good Through College Admissions, "lays out a blueprint for addressing three of the most intractable challenges facing college applicants today: excessive academic performance pressure, the emphasis on personal achievement over good citizenship, and the uneven opportunities available to students of varying income levels and backgrounds."

Frank Bruni's article Rethinking College Admissions, acknowledges that this is a step towards colleges taking responsibility for the messages they send out, though there are still many changes that need to follow:

Colleges are becoming more conscious of their roles — too frequently neglected — in social mobility. They’re recognizing how many admissions measures favor students from affluent families.

They’re realizing that many kids admitted into top schools are emotional wrecks or slavish adherents to soulless scripts that forbid the exploration of genuine passions. And they’re acknowledging the extent to which the admissions process has contributed to this.

But they still need to stop filling so much of each freshman class with specially tagged legacy cases and athletes and to quit worrying about rankings like those of U.S. News and World Report. Only then will the tide fully turn.

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