The post-pandemic American education system is not the American education system of yesterday. The last two years have brought profound changes to public and private colleges alike, and we are seeing these changes upending long-standing values in the world of college admissions.
For parents and students accustomed to pre-pandemic college admissions, this colossal shift requires a radical change in thinking. At times, it can feel counter-intuitive or uncomfortable. It goes against the grades, achievement, and hard work based ethos that dominated the college admissions process for so many decades. But it is absolutely critical that families change their mindset in order to ensure their student’s chances at admissions success. This is especially important for goal-oriented families who don’t want to waste their student’s precious time on activities and resume-builders that will have little value during the admissions process.
What are colleges looking for today? What is this radical new mindset that has taken over the educational system as a whole?
In 2016, Harvard released its groundbreaking report, “Turning the Tide,” advocating for a more socially-minded, less achievement-driven admissions process. “Turning the Tide” was signed by nearly 200 college admissions offices. In 2020, a sister report, “Caring Counts in Crisis,” was endorsed by 300 college admissions offices. These reports confirmed that college admissions officers were not looking for individual high achievers but impacters: students who exhibited compassion, curiosity, gratitude, grit, and purpose.
The influence of these reports has not been limited to private institutions. It seems that even public colleges, with their numbers-driven admissions policies, have come to similar conclusions in what they value in their candidates. The UCs, notably, have permanently eliminated the SAT requirement and changed 6 of 8 PIQs (personal essay questions) on their application to provide students with opportunities to write about their moral and ethical development and social emotional skills. And, as University of Washington Associate Provost Julie McCulloh explained, “Engagement in high school — anything from high school activities to work to volunteering — [is] actually correlated to more success at the end of the first year in college [than high SAT scores].”
While news of these changes can be surprising and even disconcerting for many parents, FLEX College Prep (FLEX), California’s leading Admissions Consulting Firm since 2001, has long been preparing for this moment. For decades, FLEX has been partnering with students to help them get into their dream schools: UCs, Ivies, Stanford and more. Now, with a proven track record of forecasting every major change that has come down the admissions pipeline, FLEX is proud to present Impacter Pathway, a unique and rigorous program that responds to this revolutionary new thought in the admissions process: namely, that a young person’s commitment to impact is the single greatest determinant of his/her college, career, and life success.
Impacter Pathway provides a systematic framework through which students can understand the meaning of impact and execute their learning in meaningful ways. Through courses, personalized coaching, and capstone projects, students develop the social and emotional (SEL) skills necessary to become impacters. Impacter Pathway is founded on the understanding that while all kids have natural tendencies and gifts, ALL kids can master the SEL competencies necessary for admissions success.
In addition, FLEX has created a college readiness assessment based on the DESSA: the leading K-12 social and emotional competency assessment used by school districts nationwide. Now students can get a research-based assessment that pinpoints their specific strengths and areas for growth, not in some general sense, but as pertains to college admission.
Does your student have the social and emotional skills requisite for college admissions success? Parents can start by taking this brief College Readiness Assessment of your student and visit our website to learn more.
We look forward to partnering with you to help your student find happiness, meaning, and success.
Danny is the CEO of FLEX College Prep. Danny’s core focus is on helping young people get the best advice, and be the best students they can be. His team of professionals are also personal coaches, and great people, driven by the same passion for helping people.