Grit in College Admissions

Grit in University Admission, Grit in Ivy League Admission, Grit and Admissions Process

How can highly selective colleges measure grit? This question is posed in an article of “The Idaho Statesman.” Yes, we read that paper too if there happens to be an article on college admissions in it!

There’s an article in “The Idaho Statesman” (hey, we read lots of newspapers!) written by David Holmes, a head of school at a school in Sun Valley that we thought we’d write about. In Holmes’ piece entitled “Colleges should consider ‘grit’ when deciding admissions,” he argues that the college admissions process needs change. We don’t disagree with that. Many processes can be improved going forward — the college admissions process included. Holmes happens to cite a “TED” talk given by Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania on non-cognitive factors of success and grit is apparently one of them. Other non-cognitive factors include optimism, zest, self-control, curiosity, and social intelligence.

Writes Holmes, “By establishing valid and feasible methods for assessing character strengths, our goal is to reshape the way college admissions offices assess candidates. Not only will this assure that colleges accept students with authentic potential for success, but these new assessments will open the door to youths who are “wired for success” in college and life but are too often ignored by colleges. The college admissions system is long overdue for fundamental change, and thousands of “gritty” young men and women are poised to take advantage of a new approach.”

We don’t disagree that grit sure does matter as a determinant of success. But how should this be measured? Should applicants complete personality / character tests? And it should be noted that grit can be gauged to some extent through letters of recommendation and college admissions essays. It’s not just test scores and grades in highly selective college admissions. But we ask you — how can grit be measured since it’s a determinant of success and highly selective colleges want to admit students who are ideally going to be successful in life?


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