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Turning the Tide II: A Report on Character and the College Admissions Process [downloadable]

turning the tide438Three years in the making, Turning the Tide II: How Parents and High Schools Can Cultivate Ethical Character and Reduce Distress in The College Admissions Process, a report published by the Making Caring Common project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education offers guidelines for high schools and parents in promoting ethical character. The first Turning the Tide reportpublished in 2016, sought changes in admissions at the college level to advance three related goals: elevating ethical character, especially concern for others and the common good; increasing access and equity for economically disadvantaged students; and reducing excessive, damaging achievement pressure in many communities. The number of admissions deans endorsing Turning the Tide has grown from 50 to nearly 200 over the past three years.

This follow-up report shifts the focus to the role of families and high schools in college admissions. It also describes how some high schools and colleges are working to promote greater ethical engagement among high school students, level the playing field for economically disadvantaged students, and reduce excessive achievement pressure.

Turning the Tide II makes the case that an intense focus on academic achievement has squeezed out serious attention to ethical character in many high schools and families, especially in middle- and upper-income communities. With a narrow focus on high achievement and admission to selective colleges, parents in these communities often fail to help their teens develop the critical cognitive, social, and ethical capacities that are at the heart of both doing good and doing well in college and beyond.

Report Highlights

  • Actionable guideposts for parents and high schools for shaping an admissions process that puts young people’s ethical character and well-being at the center of a healthier, more sane college admissions process
  • New, pioneering statement endorsed by almost 140 college admissions deans that seeks to give high schools greater freedom in advancing Turning the Tide’s goals and to allay parents’ fears of short-changing their child if they don’t amass impressive achievements
  • Examples of positive changes made by many colleges endorsing Turning the Tide, as well as Making Caring Common’s collaboration with the Common Application and Coalition for College to advance Turning the Tide’s goals
  • Description of a new campaign that has engaged 189 high schools and middle schools nationwide in promoting Turning the Tide

Read more in the Executive Summary (PDF) or the full report (PDF).

Ethical Parenting in the College Admissions Process

  1. Keep the focus on your teen
  2. Follow your ethical GPS
  3. Use the admissions process as an opportunity for ethical education
  4. Be authentic
  5. Help your teen contribute to others in meaningful ways
  6. Advocate for elevating ethical character and reducing achievement-related distress
  7. Model and encourage gratitude

Read more in the Executive Summary (PDF) or in Resources for Parents.

A High School Guide To Ethical College Admissions

  1. Set ethical expectations with families
  2. Create opportunities for authentic student service and contributions to others
  3. Use the admissions process as an opportunity for ethical education
  4. Focus students on daily acts of character and provide evidence of character in applications
  5. Guide students in reporting their substantial family contributions and challenges
  6. Focus students on a wide range of colleges
  7. Create limits on advanced courses and discourage students from overloading on extracurricular activities

Read more in the Executive Summary (PDF) or in Resources for Educators.

Excerpted from “Turning the Tide II: How Parents and High Schools Can Cultivate Ethical Character and Reduce Distress in The College Admissions Process” on the Making Caring Common Project website. Read the full article online.

Making Caring Common, a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, helps families, educators, and communities raise kids who care about others and the common good. Learn more at www.makingcaringcommon.org.
Source: Making Caring Common Project | Turning the Tide II: How Parents and High Schools Can Cultivate Ethical Character and Reduce Distress in The College Admissions Process, https://mcc.gse.harvard.edu/reports/turning-the-tide-2-parents-high-schools-college-admissions |  © The President and Fellows of Harvard College

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