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Turning the Tide II: How Parents and High Schools Can Cultivate Ethical Character and Reduce Distress in The College Admissions Process

By March 25, 2019No Comments

Our new report calls on parents and high schools to put young people’s character and well-being at the center of a healthier, more sane college admissions process.

Three years in the making, Turning the Tide II: How Parents and High Schools Can Cultivate Ethical Character and Reduce Distress in The College Admissions Process, offers guidelines for high schools and parents in promoting ethical character. It also describes how some high schools and colleges are working to promote greater ethical engagement among high school students, level the playing field for economically disadvantaged students, and reduce excessive achievement pressure. The report also includes a pioneering statement from admissions deans seeking to advance Turning the Tide’s goals.

Turning the Tide II makes the case that an intense focus on academic achievement has squeezed out serious attention to ethical character in many high schools and families, especially in middle- and upper-income communities. With a narrow focus on high achievement and admission to selective colleges, parents in these communities often fail to help their teens develop the critical cognitive, social, and ethical capacities that are at the heart of both doing good and doing well in college and beyond. Many parents also fail to be ethical role models to their children by allowing a range of transgressions—from exaggerating achievements to outright cheating—in the admissions process.

Often following parents’ lead, many high schools in middle- and upper-income communities tend to focus too rigidly on highly selective colleges, don’t adequately nurture students’ interests and curiosity, and do little to challenge parents engaging in ethically troubling behavior.

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