New report wants sweeping changes to the college admissions process

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Leaders from colleges across the country are endorsing a report from the Harvard Graduate School of Education that could revolutionize the college admission process. Now more than 50 universities nationwide are jumping on board.

Students at the Buffalo Public Schools annual college expo say the admissions process isn’t easy. But this report says changing the application process would send a strong message to young people.

Shatara Holmes, a Senior at Bennett High School said, “It’s very difficult to do on your own, if you don’t have a strong support system behind you, you will not be successful in it.”

The report says high school culture teaches teens to focus on their own personal success rather than concern for others.
SUNY Buffalo State leaders say they already use some of these principles, taking a holistic approach to admissions. Dr. Katherine Conway- Turner, President at SUNY Buffalo State.

She said, “Yes indeed, institutions really want a young person to be balanced and do well in the classroom, but also to be involved in the community and other things as well.”

The study suggests colleges focus less on standardized test scores, class rank and the number of AP courses a student takes. Justin Rogers, Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Canisius College said, “We’re looking to understand the whole student. The well-rounded student. It’s more then just a test or a high school average, we’re looking for an involved citizen.”

Some schools have already made standardized tests such as the SATs and the ACTS optional.

The report urges schools to put more emphasis instead on things like civic engagement, which speak to the “character” of the students instead of just their grades.

Dr. Conway-Turner said, “Let’s talk about a balanced portfolio. Let’s talk about developing passionate interests in young people and then further to develop that.”

It suggets paying more attention to students’ essays or recommendation letters. It would help admission officers like Rogers attest to the genuineness of the students’ work.

He said, “I think more schools are looking for a student who can be academically successful but also can be a citizen of their college campus.”

If you’d like to learn more about the report, you can read more about “Turning the Tide” here. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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