My first for the Cardinal Newman Society: Good things coming from Harvard; jives with good work at Catholic Schools

Originally published by Catholic Education Daily, an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society

This essay regards a topic close to my heart, the criteria for college admissions and the effect those have on students. It was very interesting to investigate the new Harvard report from the other side of the issue, a grown version of my high school self.

It was also fun to do interviews. This was the first time I cold-called strangers and asked for interviews. It went pretty well.  So without further ado, here are some excerpts.

Practices of overloading on Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) classes, extensive test preparation, and the coaching of written essays are widespread and contribute to measurably higher rates of depression, anxiety and substance abuse in upper-middle class communities where the pressure to achieve is high. Unfortunately, the pressure to perform in college admissions and the evaluation of applications tends to overlook the legitimate abilities and skills of students from lower income communities and non-traditional academic backgrounds.

Reilly also noted, “The concept works for faithful Catholic colleges, where values are consistently defined by reason and revelation.” Smaller schools, particularly faithful Catholic colleges recommended in The Newman Guide that are driven by a strong sense of mission, have been practicing values-based recruiting and admission since their inception.

Focus on Values and Mission

The director of admissions at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, Margaret Weber, said specifically that “we recruit students who share our mission. We are looking for students who are active in their Catholic faith and would like to grow in a supportive community with peers who want to do the same.” Making no secret of their values, the University attracts and looks for highly engaged, ethical individuals who want to come for the curriculum and environment that Franciscan has to offer. Values guide their recruitment process, which was a recommended feature of the Harvard report.

– See more at:

So questions for you: what was your experience in college admissions? Do you think the ideas in the Harvard report are good? How important is the mission of a college in selecting one?

I don’t know about you, but for me, there was a lot more involved than I realized when I was 17.


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