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New Era of College Admission: It’s About Character

With U.S. colleges and universities releasing decisions over the last several weeks, we're pleased to share the following excerpt from an op-ed written by Head of School Sophie Glenn Lau ’88 and Beth Ellis, Director of College Counseling. It was originally published in the Providence Business News on April 2, 2021.


The modern approach to college admission is perhaps best summed up in the words of a Lincoln School senior at a recent virtual college counseling event. Joined by a panel of her peers, she was asked: “What was a pleasant surprise from the college process?” 

She answered: “Getting to know myself. Not just what I want, but who I am.” 

No matter where a student is in the college process—just starting out or waiting on a decision—there’s no question that college admission can be highly competitive and that the application process can be daunting. We frequently hear stories of students racking up extracurriculars and leadership roles as though sheer quantity of accomplishments was the deciding factor. That has always been a falsehood, but in a pandemic when students are under pressure to master new ways of learning and engaging with the world, the added stress of that misconception can be crippling for some. 

Which is why we believe a focus on the process is actually the best path to acceptance. At Lincoln, we have long believed that filling out an application is both a privilege and an opportunity. There are few points in life for such pointed reflection, few chances so ripe for self exploration. 

And there are few times in history as critical as the present. Given the ways the current pandemic is impacting the ways students are living, learning, and socializing, it’s even more important than ever that we help students find balance and allow them the time and space to get to know themselves well so that they are able to say with confidence: "This is who I am, this is what I like to do, and most importantly, this is why I like to do these things." 

Continue reading at pbn.com.