ivy league admissions

Character as Destiny in Ivy League Admissions

Recently, Ivy League and other top-tier institutions have undertaken an effort to reform the college admissions process so that it sends a new, powerful message: admission is based on meaningful ethical behavior, especially concern for others and the common good, as much as it is on your academic record. Most top-tier schools have adopted this paradigm in their admissions practices.

This approach to admissions was given a significant boost in early 2016 with the publication by the Harvard Graduate School of Education of a report titled, Turning the Tide”. The elite institutions that have endorsed the report have committed to implementing changes consistent with the report’s recommendations, including new or revised essay prompts, revised advertising messages, and the deployment of recruitment practices that focus attention on an applicant’s community engagements and history of caring for others.

Stuart Schmill, Dean of Admissions at MIT, spoke for many about Turning the Tide when he said: “This report communicates our expectations much more clearly to applicants. We don’t want students who do things just because they think they have to in order to get into college. To the contrary, we want students who lead balanced lives, who pursue their interests with energy and enthusiasm and who work cooperatively with others, all of which will help them be successful in and after college.”

Does this common effort by top-tier schools affect your plans for admission? After all, character is comprised of non-cognitive attributes that cannot be quantified. The notion of character encompasses many personality traits such as honesty, integrity, perseverance, kindness, empathy, fair-mindedness, ethics, open-mindedness, and resilience. Nevertheless, character is among the “soft skills” that colleges assess to determine which academically qualified applicants will make the best additions to their student bodies. So you are well advised to anticipate an assessment of your character as part of admissions.

Let’s assume that you’re a person of sterling character. The question then becomes, “How can I best communicate this in the admissions process?” We at IvySelect, as a college admissions consulting firm specializing in elite schools, always assist our clients in clarifying their most positive character attributes consistently across all components of the admissions process. Character traits can then be discovered by admissions officers through your personal essays, interviews, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, and awards, which collectively provide a consistent, holistic perspective of you as an applicant.

IvySelect understands the need to anticipate character assessment as an important consideration in college admissions. We provide you with the advantage of communicating positive information to schools through various channels so that your strength of character impresses admissions officials at Ivy League and other top-tier schools.