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So, you wanna go to college...

Dr. Randy Watts
Have you ever wondered what colleges are really seeking in their applicants? I had the opportunity recently to observe a panel of four college presidents in a moderated discussion on the future of education.
Have you ever wondered what colleges are really seeking in their applicants? I had the opportunity recently to observe a panel of four college presidents in a moderated discussion on the future of education.

They first emphasized the changing world of higher education (a topic for a future blog post!), and landed on what they believe colleges are looking for in independent school applicants:

Writing skills. Students need to arrive at college with the ability to express themselves thoughtfully, critically, and clearly through writing. There was general consensus with the panelists and the audience of educators that fewer and fewer high school graduates seem to be able to write effectively.

Passions. Colleges want to see dedication to an activity or commitment to an organization rather than a mile-long resume. Not to say I told you so, but… see my last blog post.

Self-reflection. Students today arrive at college with an underdeveloped, interior life, compared to the students of 30 years ago because they haven’t spent enough time alone and in a distraction-free environment.

Resilience. Lacking some of the coping skills required of young adults, today’s college students see a greater proclivity towards anxiety, depression, and maladaptive coping through self-medication.

Self-advocacy. The students who flourish at college are those who go and ask when they have a question or need help. Period.

Community living. The College Presidents agreed that more incoming freshmen struggle with the task of living away from home. They seek students who can live with others, have a sense of community, and can understand and respect differences. An important developmental task for 18-22 year olds is to grow under the mentorship of older adults, who are not their parents, and in the company of their peers.

I can say with pride that Brookwood does a solid job of addressing these areas of concern in our young people. Our family-like, safe community (The “Brookwood Bubble”) emphasizes the fundamental underpinnings of education as well as individual creativity and development, all under the helm of good values; it’s a great place to start.

If you would like additional ideas about how to nurture these qualities in your children, I encourage you to attend John Rosemond’s talk later this month. While he may not have all of the answers, I promise you’ll leave with more ideas than when you entered!

*This blog is a reflection on a February presentation that I attended at the National Association of Independent Schools Annual Convention in Boston, MA. Yes, the weather was very cold and snow drifts were everywhere!

The panel was moderated by NAIS President John Chubb, and included:
  • Rebecca Chopp, Chancellor at the University of Denver
  • Pamela Gunter-Smith, Provost of York College of Pennsylvania
  • Nannerl Keohane, American political theorist and former president of Wellesley College and Duke University
  • Paul LeBlanc, President of Southern New Hampshire University
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Located in Thomasville, GA, Brookwood School is a private school for grades JK-12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.