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To get into college, Harvard report advocates for kindness instead of overachieving


"It 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."

To get into college, Harvard report advocates for kindness instead of overachieving - The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2016/01/20/to-get-into-college-harvard-report-advocates-for-kindness-instead-of-overachieving/

And the article's source: http://mcc.gse.harvard.edu/collegeadmissions

Stashed in: Young Americans, #kindness, Harvard

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"As your oldest child begins to fill out her college application, it is hard not to feel a rising panic. For the last four years she has thrown herself into her school work, taken AP classes, studied for the SAT, worked on the school paper, played on the field hockey team and tutored elementary school children.

Yet as she methodically records her activities on the application, it becomes clear that this was simply not enough. There are 10 looming blank spaces and although her days have been overflowing with homework, activities and volunteering, she has only five activities to report. There are 15 spaces to record the four AP classes she was so proud of taking.

You wonder who the kid is who can complete all of these blank spaces, and what has gone wrong that this is what applying to college now means".

I wonder why we put so much pressure on kids to do so much.

Fewer seems better, more authentic, healthier.

Initially it was to separate teen applicants from the 'norm’, e.g., those teens who helped run households, babysat younger siblings after school and made other family contributions, such as working a job after school. 

Academic and extra curricular pressures kept increasing, with the goal of 'out-doing' everyone else. The norm has now changed and the pendulum is swinging back: "Parent tip: If your teens help to run the household, babysit a younger sibling after school, or make other significant family contributions, make sure they write about it on their applications".

It's a good idea to write about family contributions in the application. 

And I think it's a good idea not to put a lot of pressure on kids. 

From the pragmatic side, I wonder what the reactions would be from super-achieving students who were declined admission, while babysitting students were accepted. 

By kindness, they mean authenticity and contributions to family and community service.

2. Value the different ways students make contributions to their families and communities. Current applications often disadvantage students from less affluent backgrounds who may make important but overlooked contributions, such as working part-time to help support their families or taking care of a family member, leaving them no time for extracurricular activities or community service. Colleges need to clearly communicate the high value they place on family contributions and give ample opportunity for applicants to explain their role. By doing so, the authors hope to redefine achievement in broader terms.

Parent tip: If your teens help to run the household, babysit a younger sibling after school, or make other significant family contributions, make sure they write about it on their applications.

3. Stress the importance of authenticity. At the heart the report is the notion that admissions committees are looking for students who are authentic and honest about their interests and accomplishments. Students are encouraged to find the right college fit by remaining true to themselves, keeping an open mind about their options and examining a broad range of colleges. It should also be made clear that over-coached applications can jeopardize admission. Confidence and integrity are best reflected in the student’s own voice.

Parent tip: College admissions officers can sense when an application is not authentic or trumped up. Help teens present themselves in their best light, while still staying true to who they really are.

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5. Engage in meaningful community service. The report highlights a common misconception that volunteering for certain high-profile causes or traveling to exotic countries will make an application stand out. It will, but for the wrong reasons: namely that it looks inauthentic.

Parent tip: Help your teens find sustained community service opportunities that extend for a year or more where the student can be fully engaged in something that is important to them and, in turn, have a meaningful impact. Community engagement can take many different forms, from addressing local needs to serving in a soup kitchen to volunteering on a political campaign or making meaningful contributions at home. Look for opportunities where teens can work side by side with the people they are helping, instead of for them, which can sometimes feel patronizing and may not create as rich an experience.

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