College Counseling Blog
Welcome to the College Counseling Blog by Chris Teare, Director of College Counseling, and Russell Althouse, Associate Director of College Counseling.
Explore the International Landscape for Great Opportunities
Last week a judge ruled that Harvard has not violated the law in its undergraduate admissions practices. That verdict will be appealed, meaning that the ultimate resolution of this legal challenge may be years away. In the meantime and with the status quo, students and parents will continue to have to understand that the academic criteria of challenging courses, high grades, and high test scores will not, in and of themselves, be enough to earn acceptance to the most selective colleges and universities in the United States.
Increasingly criticized but also still widely used by such institutions are criteria of legacy status, special (usually athletic) talent, development donations, and under-represented socioeconomic groups. In this context, what can a great academic student do, when her/his parents did not attend the institution, when (s)he does not have transcendent talent in a sport, when her/his family cannot donate enough money to build a new facility on campus, or when (s)he is not from a historically disadvantaged group in American society--almost always understood as African-American, Hispanic, and increasingly first-generation, low-income?
One answer is to adopt a Wardlaw+Hartridge School Pioneering Thinker mindset and explore different territories for applications. In this case, it is to look to Canada, the United Kingdom, and other countries where university admission has nothing to do with legacies, athletics, donations, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background. To start at the top level of selectivity, Oxford and Cambridge are often thought of as the Harvard and Yale of the United Kingdom. All four are world-class academic institutions; however, Oxford and Cambridge make decisions purely on academic criteria. They want to see a student's transcript, test scores, and a short essay. That's it. The same goes for other outstanding institutions elsewhere in the UK. These are institutions that put academics, and the ability to score well on SAT, SAT II Subject Test, ACT, and/or AP above all else.
Examples of great universities visiting Wardlaw+Hartridge soon that make decisions in this way are one from the UK, the other two from Canada. Professors from The University of Glasgow in Scotland will be on campus Thursday, October 10, to talk about their offerings in the STEM disciplines, as well as Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, and the Life Sciences. An admissions representative from Glasgow will follow up in visiting us on October 29. That's one opportunity our students should consider. The same goes for the Canadian universities that are coming to visit: on October 24, we will welcome the University of Toronto; on Oct. 25, the University of British Columbia will visit us.
Being a Pioneering Thinker can mean different things in different contexts. When it comes to college applications, it may mean exploring the international landscape for great opportunities that are not usually under consideration in the Boston-to-Washington Amtrak corridor that sometimes dominates our conversations. Pioneering Thinkers once looked across America from the East Coast to seek opportunity; Wardlaw+Hartridge Pioneering Thinkers may well want to look across an ocean or a border.
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