#NACACreads Chat: Rewarding Creativity on College Apps Would Have Trickle-Down Effect

oneworldschoolhouseColleges that accept video essays or provide other avenues for students to express themselves in the admission process may be on to something.

That was the assessment made Wednesday by participants in the inaugural #NACACreads Twitter chat.

The issue was raised during a discussion of Sal Khan’s The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined. In the book, Khan — founder of the online learning platform, Khan Academy — notes that “today’s world needs a workforce of creative, curious and self-directed lifelong learners.”

Yet, despite that reality, “the current system of testing and grading tends to filter out creative, different-thinking people who are most likely to make major contributions to a field,” he writes.

College can encourage the next generation of innovators by providing more avenues within the admission process for students demonstrate their academic potential and share what excites them about learning, #NACACreads participants said.

One potential model? The art school application process, in which a students’ creative work and goals are thoroughly examined alongside test scores and high school transcripts.

“Art schools with portfolio options seem to be headed in the right direction,” tweeted Jeffrey Neill, director of college counseling at Western Reserve Academy (OH).

Changing the way some schools present themselves to students could also help, noted Arun Ponnusamy, a counselor with Collegewise (CA). Colleges should stress the importance of creativity and self-directed learning to prospective students “early and often,” he added.

“Too many build info sessions and brochures on quantitative metrics,” Ponnusamy tweeted.

College counselors and admission officers can foster enthusiasm and growth among students by advising them to take a deep breath, and focus on their interests — whatever they may be, said Jim Sargent, assistant director of admissions at Trinity College (CT).

Such steps are critical to fostering student motivation — a factor linked to achievement, he said.

“Encourage students to explore their passions instead of just doing what they think admissions officers want,” Sargent tweeted.

 Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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