Not too long ago, high school counselors and college admissions officers met up in a panel to discuss the gaps between what colleges are looking for in students’ applications and what students most often reveal. The discussion wasn’t so much about what colleges want, as how an increasingly outcomes driven admissions process has skewed students’ education and life choices:
- Character: Recent cheating scandals at top high schools and colleges (ie. Stuyvesant, Harvard) echoed in the news from business, finance, and journalism. Students live in a world where achievement trumps character. College Admissions, on the other hand is all about character. Colleges are looking for young people with character and especially integrity. Not the person who does generalized “community service,” but the person who is doing that work with a sense of purpose and commitment.
- Grit: Colleges want students who will make the most of what college has to offer. So they look for students who have persevered through adversity and learned from real life challenges, rather than people who make excuses or who expect other people to solve life’s problems for them.
- And colleges want essays that sound like a high school student's essay: Colleges are looking for students who are authentic and real; no one else can do that work for you.