Change is coming for college hopefuls



The college landscape has the potential to look very different in the next few years.

Turning the Tide, a document recently released by the Harvard School of Education, describes various changes being discussed by colleges across the country. The changes related to the current application process are designed to eliminate ¨resume builders”, and relieve some of the pressure placed on students.

This would involve a movement towards less AP classes and less importance placed on SATs and other standardized tests.

Typically,  guidance counselors, parents, and some teachers encourage students to take as many AP and honors classes as possible. Students are also advised to participate in multiple sports, school and community organizations, and other extracurricular activities to present themselves as well rounded.

The report aims to make changes that would break down this goal.

According to Turning the Tide, “A large number of AP or IB courses per year are often not as valuable as sustained achievement in a limited number of areas.” This means colleges and universities may be more likely to accept students who excel in a certain area and clearly focus on one or two particular subjects.

Improvement of students’ mental and physical health is also a major concern discussed in the report. Educators are worried that students are becoming too overwhelmed by cramming their schedules full of high level courses and extracurricular activities.

The report states, “high rates of depression, delinquency, substance abuse, and anxiety” among students is believed to be related to the pressure to highly achieve. This has led to discussion about how many AP classes students can actually handle.

Not everyone is on board with this idea.

“Limiting anxiety for students is a beautiful thing,” said GHS guidance counselor Ellen Clarke.  “But cutting back on AP classes will only discourage students who want to challenge themselves.”

According to Clarke, this could make high school stressful for students in an entirely different way.

“Trying a variety of AP courses and being involved for several activities can be really good for students,” said Clarke. “It helps you to figure out what you might want to focus on in college, and what activities you are passionate about.”

In the meantime, students are left to negotiate the pressures associated with balancing resume building, and experiencing high school in a more focused, and perhaps a more enjoyable way.

Read more about the Harvard School of Education report here: