Dictionary.com defines character as “moral qualities, ethical standards, principles, and the like: a man of sterling character.” In addition to one’s GPA, test scores, level of difficulty of academic program, extra-curricular activities and teacher recommendations, college admissions offices are showing an increased interest in a student’s character.
Mark Sklarow, the CEO of IECA (Independent Educational Consultants of America), presents a scenario in which character was considered in addition to a student’s overall GPA (if not more so) by a hypothetical admissions officer. Leaders in college and university admission, independent schools, and leading national organizations have been advocating for including one’s personal qualities as barometers for success as a member of college communities. And according to this year’s list of What Colleges Look For posted by the IECA, character and values appear for the first time as a consideration.
Students who demonstrate personal strength, determination, and persistence as well as kindness and passion for community-building need to be sure that they incorporate those values into their applications, essays and interviews. In addition to the personal essay, the “additional information” essay might be an excellent opportunity to discuss circumstances or qualifications that are not mentioned or explored in the application, but might demonstrate the student’s ability to deal with the personal challenges and choices that they will face in college.