Community Core Responds: Turning the Tide Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions

The Community Core team was over the moon to read this groundbreaking report from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  One of the most respected academic institutions in the country is calling for a comprehensive shift in the way the college admissions system evaluates students, and it's asking students to authentically demonstrate CARE for their COMMUNITIES.  

"Too often, today’s culture sends young people messages that emphasize personal success rather than concern for others and the common good (Konrath, O’Brien, & Hsing, 2011; Putnam, 2005; Putnam, 2014; Weissbourd & Jones, 2014). And too often the college admissions process—a process that involves admissions offices, guidance counselors, parents and many other stakeholders—contributes to this problem. As a rite of passage for many students and a major focus for many parents, the college admissions process is powerfully positioned to send different messages that help young people become more generous and humane in ways that benefit not only society but students themselves. Yet high school students often perceive colleges as simply valuing their achievements, not their responsibility for others and their communities. While some colleges have diligently sought to convey to applicants the importance of concern for others and the common good, many other colleges have not. The messages that colleges do send about concern for others are commonly drowned out by the power and frequency of messages from parents and the larger culture emphasizing individual achievement. Further, even when students and parents receive the message that contributions and service to others do count, they often seek to “game” service. This report advances a new, widely shared vision of college admissions that seeks to respond to this deeply concerning problem. It makes the case that college admissions can send compelling messages that both ethical engagement—especially concern for others and the common good—and intellectual engagement are highly important. Colleges can powerfully collaborate to send different messages to high school students about what colleges value. This report, endorsed by over 80 key stakeholders in college admissions, represents such a collaboration. More specifically, this report takes up three challenges. First, it describes how college admissions can motivate high school students to contribute to others and their communities in more authentic and meaningful ways that promote in them genuine investment in the collective good and deeper understanding of and respect for others, especially those different from them in background and character. Second, it demonstrates how the admissions process can more accurately and meaningfully assess young people’s contributions to others and their communities, especially students who vary widely by race, culture and class."  

These educators saw a broken system, and have offered a solution in the form of the admission process.  Skip!  Jump!  Hooray!  

We know that high schools across the country are going to be looking for the HOW.  How can we help kids care about their communities?  How can we show that they do?  How can we make them want it?  What is authentic leadership? Is there a curriculum for this?  Certainly some schools will come up with perfunctory ways to "game" the system (to steal Harvard's term), but we know there are thousands of administrators and guidance counselors out there who are dancing on their desks, because they understand that this creates an objective students will WANT and a way for them to make the kind of impact they'd hoped to make when they first decided to become educators.  Let's talk.  Community Core has been "doing this thing" for years, and our experiential training for educators and student leaders is groundbreaking, life-changing, and sustainable.

Applause to Harvard and the courage it took to break free of a BROKEN system. 

Let Community Core help your school access the TOOLS of social-emotional literacy.