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Friday, February 12, 2016

The progress of Holistic Admissions 2.0

So, how's that plan written by aliens from outer space to make elite college admissions about being a nice person going? According to the headlines of the college papers, it's going amazingly well. Everyone is totally behind it in spirit, and the report has convinced several elite universities to radically overhaul their applications by...adding a supplemental essay question asking applicants to describe their goodness.

And the rest of the report's recommendations? The stuff about capping AP courses and activities, throwing out the SAT, evaluating "students’ daily awareness of and contributions to others," and - my personal favorite - asking elite schools to discourage ambitious students from applying to elite schools? Well, it seems that those might take a bit longer to implement:
Fitzsimmons stressed that his endorsement of “Turning the Tide” did not mean the College is relaxing its expectations for academic rigor. In particular, he pointed to the report’s recommendations that admissions officers reduce pressure on students to take a large number of Advanced Placement courses in high school. 
“Academic excellence in all its forms is critically important,” he said. “There are students out there who relish the possibility of taking many AP tests, and it’s one of the things that gets them ready for work in college.” 
Similarly, while the report suggests that schools should reevaluate whether the SAT is a predictor of academic success and consider adopting a test-optional admissions policy, Fitzsimmons said Harvard is unlikely to make such a move any time soon. 
“We still find that standardized test scores are useful,” Fitzsimmons said. “One of the things that we hope does not get lost in the enthusiasm that people have for the report is academic excellence, measured a whole variety of ways, including by standardized test scores.”