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The college admissions process provides a powerful opportunity to motivate key virtues in high school students. Yet the message that young people typically receive today is that what matters most to colleges—and to society—is a high number of achievements, not meaningful ethical or performance virtues.
The good news is that college admissions offices want better tools for assessing and motivating virtues. Making Caring Common (MCC) seeks support from the Templeton Foundation to analyze current college admissions tools and practices and to pilot new tools in high schools and college admission offices that promote both ethical and performance virtue development and equity and access for economically disadvantaged students.
In the project’s first phase, we will determine the most effective admissions practices for assessing and/or motivating ethical virtues and diligence in the face of demanding family responsibilities and, in consultation with experts and admissions officers, recommend revisions and consider new approaches. In the second phase, we will develop, pilot, and evaluate innovative, scalable assessment strategies in high schools to be utilized in the admissions process. Here we will focus on strategies identifying students who demonstrate ethical virtues in their daily actions and those who demonstrate diligence and academic potential while undertaking substantial family responsibilities.
We anticipate that this project could lead colleges across the country—including many of the 120 admissions offices endorsing Turning the Tide—to adopt systems that more effectively assess key virtues and motivate students to be more generous, future-minded, reliable, and diligent. Ultimately, this work is pivotal to achieving a saner and healthier balance between young people’s self-interests and their investment in others and our collective future; to promoting diligence as a key virtue; and to advancing the college prospects of economically disadvantaged students.