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Harvard report seeks to lessen stress, pressure of college application process
Dozens of American colleges and universities have come together in support of significant changes to the way potential students apply to school. - photo by Jessica Ivins
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts Dozens of American colleges and universities have come together in support of significant changes to the way potential students apply to school.

The most notable recommendation: Doing away with standardized test scores as part of the application process, according to Today.

The new report, which comes out of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, seeks to make the college admissions process less strenuous for high school students by minimizing the necessity for perfect grades, a flawless resume and high test scores.

I think our students are just doing too much, MIT Dean of Admissions Stu Schmill told Today. They feel like they have to do too much, and they really dont. We want to send this message that they can pull back on that a little bit.

The report lists specific recommendations designed to achieve that goal, including making the SAT and ACT tests optional or less important in the admissions process. Traditionally, standardized tests scores correlate with household income, and often put low-income students at a disadvantage, according to The New York Times.

Another potential change: Considering family situations in the overall admissions process. For example, if a prospective student from a low-income family was expected to be a financial contributor throughout his or her high school career, he or she might not have as much time to focus on grades, tests or extracurricular activities. The report suggests this information be taken into account when considering a student for admission.

And speaking of those ever-important extracurriculars, quality over quantity should be the name of the game, the report suggests. Students should focus less on compiling a list of achievements and more on sustainable community service and involvement

Its about caring for what youre doing and caring for others and not performing to please an admissions game, Education Conservancy Executive Director Lloyd Thacker told The Wall Street Journal. Were hoping this is going to catch fire and together schools will do more.

The Harvard report was inspired, in part, by a previous poll conducted by those behind the current recommendations. The poll revealed that 80 percent of youth surveyed ranked high achievement over caring for others in terms of importance, and their parents seemed to agree with their sentiments.

Therein lies the root of the problem with the current admissions process, according to the authors of the report.

Its really time to say enough, stop wringing our hands and figure out some collective action, Harvards Richard Weissbourd told The Times. Its a pivot point.

While the report could have a significant impact, the recommendations would likely take several years to be implemented in colleges and universities across the country.

The report titled "Turning the Tide," was released Wednesday at a panel in New York City and included admissions deans from Yale, MIT and the University of Michigan.
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