Character Matters, Even to Colleges

If there’s one question high school parents always ask, it’s “how do I get my child into a good college?” When we tell them that there’s actually no one answer to the question, they look to be a combination of disappointed and dubious. The truth is that the college admissions landscape has changed dramatically over the past 15 years, 6 years, and even as I write, so whatever you knew or whatever you believe worked before might not still hold.

Where once high schools were stocking up on AP and IB courses, now we have alternative curricula (such as at The Academy) with students getting into great schools; where once students were encouraged to join as many clubs and activities as possible, now we see colleges favoring fewer activities and students having more of a leadership role within them; where once parents paid hundreds of dollars for SAT prep classes, now some schools are going standardized-test optional.

Despite fads and cultural shifts in the admissions process, what we see happening overall is a larger focus on the character of the individual applicant, and how that individual will contribute to a college’s community. Even highly selective schools are not immune: this article from The Atlantic is one of many demonstrating that colleges care more today about the people matriculating than about their scores or resumés.

In this way, The Academy has been well ahead of its time. Our school has always emphasized the character of its community members. From the Honor Code to the recent music policy to the leadership councils, service and civic-mindedness are perennial values of The Academy. It’s nice to know that the rest of the world is beginning to see what we’ve known for decades: character matters.