A gradually emerging revolution in college admission is about to take off.
Since TED talk by Angela Duckworth On the grain in 2013, a growing number of educators are paying attention to character education, the role of character in shaping the culture of a campus, and the personal attributes graduates will have in life.
A renewed interest in character has seeped into college admissions, where many colleges are set to incorporate character factors into deciding who enters. considerable “or” moderate “importance in admission. This is a telling find, revealing a development that has quietly changed what happens in admissions offices across the country.
Now, because of COVID-19, colleges are dropping standardized testing, some for a year, and others, like the University of California system, for the foreseeable future. Several hundred other colleges have declared themselves optional. With no SAT or ACT score to plug in, colleges need to rethink how to assess candidates and the skills and personal attributes they will be looking for. The old decision matrix, with a standardized test score as a practical and meaningful factor, has been drastically changed.
For colleges not requiring the SAT or ACT, a critical question is how does an admissions committee discern academic ability and promise? More than ever, a GPA, strength of curriculum, teacher recommendations, student projects, and student essay will be critical evidence.
While the assessment of academic potential will remain at the forefront, the lack of test scores has created a vacuum. Discussions with admissions officers indicate that non-academic factors – for example, service to society, evidence of a strong work ethic, character attributes such as resilience, persistence and attention to others – will take on increasing importance in the weighting of admission criteria.
In this time of turmoil and turmoil across the country, the renewed commitment to equity and inclusion will reinforce the rise of character upon admission. Recognizing that character strengths are not tied to a particular race or socio-economic status, admissions officers see that using character during admission will open doors of opportunity for disadvantaged populations.
The elevation of character standards has grown in recent years, with increasing sophistication in how to call the character in the app and how to assess the character in a fair and valid way. It is likely that recent changes in the admissions environment and in the way students are admitted will accelerate the character movement in admission. Because Studies show that character strengths are fundamental to success in school, in work and in life, it is a hopeful development for our young people and, ultimately, for our nation.