Wanted: High-Character Students

Each year colleges invite applicants to sing their own praises, by listing achievements and proclaiming passions. Now some admissions offices are emphasizing students’ concern for others and the world beyond their test-prep manuals.

For the last few months, some admissions leaders have quietly discussed strategies for encouraging good citizenship, not just résumé-polishing, among high-school students. Although many colleges already consider applicants’ extracurriculars — volunteering, music, sports — some deans say the institutions should do more to promote and reward altruistic pursuits. To that end, several selective colleges have changed their applications to signal the importance of community service, and more plan to follow suit this year.

The impetus is, in part, a new campaign called "Turning the Tide." On Wednesday its organizers plan to release amanifesto that suggests colleges have fueled a potentially harmful fixation on academic achievement, and recommends how admissions can cultivate and prize "ethical engagement." Certain changes would send a strong message to prospective students, the report says. "The admissions process can counteract a narrow focus on personal success and promote in young people a greater appreciation of others and the common good."

Read more at The Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/article/Wanted-High-Character/234972