Hope for Turning the Tide

The ED round is over, but other early decisions are trickling in — EA, EA1, ED2, etc. — winding up the unrelenting pressure and stress for students whose junior year had become their de facto senior year. These are students who last fall risked having their focus and intellectual energy consumed by the frenzy of early admittance to the college of their dreams.

The whole college admission scene is driven by the needs and desires of colleges: to build the perfect class, to ensure athletic teams have their desired “picks,” to fill orchestras with enough string players, and to maintain their rankings in various reports. What is missing from this picture? The students.

All of this places unrealistic and unhealthy pressures upon students, whose joy in learning and intellectual curiosity is often squeezed out of them by the need to take all the AP and honors courses a school can offer, plus be a super human in the extracurricular realm. Many are being robbed of what high school should be for students: a place of intellectual exploration, of ideas, and of learning the skills and habits of mind that will carry them into college and beyond.

Will this process ever change? New York Times columnist Frank Bruni sees some hope in new initiatives:

“The best evidence is a report to be released on Wednesday. I received an advance copy. Titled ‘Turning the Tide,’ it’s the work primarily of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, though scores of educators — including the presidents and deans of admission at many of the country’s elite institutions of higher education — contributed to or endorsed it. Top administrators from Yale, M.I.T. and the University of Michigan are scheduled to participate in a news conference at which it’s unveiled.

“’Turning the Tide’ sagely reflects on what’s wrong with admissions and rightly calls for a revolution, including specific suggestions. It could make a real difference not just because it has widespread backing but also because it nails the way in which society in general — and children in particular — are badly served by the status quo.”

Read the full article here, and let’s advocate for turning the tide.

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