When researchers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education asked 10,000 middle and high school students if their parents cared more about their personal achievement or whether they were kind, 80 percent said their parents most valued achievement.
The school aims to change that message at the college admissions level through “Turning the Tide,” a national initiative to reshape the admissions process in a way that values students’ ethical and meaningful intellectual engagement and puts a new perspective on personal performance and achievement.
Kenyon is one of 60 institutions joining this movement, which was announced today in a news conference at the New York Public Library. Diane Anci, vice president of enrollment management and dean of admissions, was invited to participate in the announcement on behalf of liberal arts colleges.
“With this initiative, we are turning our attention to a critical developmental time in our children’s lives,” Anci said. “Clearly, our current admissions landscape emphasizes extremely important traits, aptitudes and achievements. And yet we owe our students a paradigm that goes beyond our current schema.”
By committing to this movement, Kenyon will stress the importance of more meaningful community service, including longer-term projects in which students are deeply engaged. Students’ contributions to family, from caring for young or elderly family members to providing financial support, will be highly valued, leveling the field for economically diverse students.
To reduce excessive pressure to achieve, admissions requirements also will be revised to emphasize the quality, rather than the quantity, of extracurricular activities and Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses.
“We are granting our children permission, space and time to develop their analytical strengths, their empathic and generative selves, and their inner lives of reflection, values and aspirations,” Anci said. “We will reward them by emphasizing depth of commitment over breadth of resume, strength of purpose over multiple application fillers.”
Anci recently met with admissions deans from the Great Lakes College Association, of which Kenyon is a member, to discuss how their institutions are supporting this initiative as well as how they can add to their advocacy. Each institution will conduct an inventory of its website, marketing materials and applications to be sure they align with the goals set by “Turning the Tide.”
“In shifting our focus, we hope to inspire students to make their high school years a truly formative experience,” Anci said. “We aspire to the goal of matriculating students who have an internal clarity and drive that will propel them forward through their college years and beyond.”