Harvard just proposed a radically new approach to college admissions in America

New Report Urges Overhaul of College Admissions Process
New Report Urges Overhaul of College Admissions Process

The Harvard Graduate School of Education released a report Wednesday endorsed by dozens of other schools that proposes radical changes to the way colleges evaluate prospective students.

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The proposal seeks to make college admissions less of a rat race that favors well-off students, and it has three specific recommendations to achieve this goal:

  • 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.

Despite colleges' efforts to have diverse student bodies, students from poor families are still rare on the campuses of elite colleges in America, as Inside Higher Ed has reported.

Admissions departments' focus on test scores, AP/IB classes, and superficial extra-curriculars doesn't help under-privileged students, according to the Harvard report released Wednesday. Rather, community involvement — whether that be a service project, or caring for your family — should be emphasized in the application process.

Related: Notable Harvard alumni:

Giving students clear opportunities to report their contributions to their family on their college applications — whether that involves working outside the house, watching over younger siblings, or taking on major household chores — can help under-privileged students, who may not be able to participate in the expensive sports or international trips that so often determine elite college admissions.

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