Making Caring Common

Emily McCarren

September 18, 2017

Last Thursday after lunch I left school and headed to the airport to catch a flight to Boston to attend two days of the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC) annual conference. This is a really interesting professional organization because it includes professionals both at the K – 12 level and the University level. It was a huge conference of over 7,000 people. Even in a community of that size, our Punahou team stood out. Throughout the two days, I was greeted with warm kindness from dozens of people I crossed paths with because of the strong relationships that our college counselors, led by Myron Arakawa, have developed over the years in service of our students.

I attended many interesting sessions but a few really stood out. First was a panel discussion which included two of the researchers at Harvard University's Making Caring Common Project. This is the organization that authored "Turning the Tide" – a declaration calling for the reshaping of the college admission process. Richard Weissbound, the founder of MCC, described the three key goals of Turning the Tide:

  1. Promote meaningful ethical and intellectual engagement
  2. Increase equity and access
  3. Reduce excessive achievement pressure.

He then asked the 300 plus people in the room to raise their hands if they were totally satisfied with how the current admission process is serving students and schools. Not a single person raised their hand, a signal that he cited as hopeful evidence that major change is possible in our industry which has historically been slow to change. I was also super excited to hear him cite the Mastery Transcript Consortium as part of the hopeful future landscape that will allow for a more humane process that doesn't demand that we "sacrifice our children at the altar of achievement".

It was reassuring to meet so many remarkable, caring and passionate educators engaged in this important work of increasing equity and access to college for all types of students. I learned that our colleagues in college admission are going to be meaningful and engaged partners in this paradigm shift in which education is engaged.

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