Harvard changes essay requirements, focuses on life experiences after affirmative action ban

Harvard changes essay requirements, focuses on life experiences after affirmative action ban

Harvard University

Harvard Changes its College Application Process: A Fresh Approach to Promoting Diversity and Personal Stories

It’s that time of year again when high school students across the United States begin the nerve-wracking process of applying to college. This year, Harvard University has introduced a new set of guidelines to their application process, aimed at capturing a broader range of student experiences and aspirations. Under the revised format, applicants will no longer have a single optional essay but will need to answer five specific questions. Harvard spokesperson, Jonathan Palumbo, explains that these questions will delve into the applicant’s life experiences, academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and their goals for the future.

However, it’s not just the changes to the application framework that make this year’s admissions process particularly interesting. Colleges and universities across the country are faced with the challenge of promoting diversity in their student populations while adhering to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on race-based admissions.

In June, Chief Justice John Roberts delivered a ruling that allows universities to consider an applicant’s views on how race has influenced their life experiences, as long as it is directly connected to a quality of character or a unique ability that the applicant can contribute to the university community. This ruling brings an important nuance to the concept of diversity in college admissions, emphasizing the significance of individual stories and contributions.

Harvard University, along with the University of North Carolina, was involved in the Supreme Court case that led to this ruling. In response, Harvard has made changes to its essay requirements to align with the new guidelines. While variations of this format have existed in previous applications, all applicants will now have to answer the same set of questions, offering an equal opportunity for displaying their unique qualities and aspirations.

Harvard is not alone in reevaluating its admissions process. The University of Virginia, for example, is now giving applicants a chance to explain their backgrounds and how these experiences can contribute to the school’s community. In a recent letter, President Jim Ryan and Provost Ian Baucom emphasized the importance of giving all students, regardless of their background, an opportunity to tell their unique stories.

In yet another innovative approach, Sarah Lawrence, a liberal arts college in Bronxville, New York, has incorporated Chief Justice Roberts’s words into one of its essay prompts. This particular prompt asks applicants to reflect on how they believe the court’s decision might impact or influence their goals for a college education. By including this prompt, Sarah Lawrence College aims to encourage students to think about the broader societal implications of the Supreme Court ruling and how it aligns with their personal aspirations.

Ultimately, these changes in the college admissions process reflect a shift towards embracing the narratives and experiences of students from all backgrounds. By encouraging applicants to share their personal stories, universities like Harvard are not just promoting diversity, but also fostering an environment where students can celebrate their individual journeys.

In Summary

  • Harvard University has introduced a new set of guidelines for college applications, replacing the previous single optional essay with five specific questions.
  • The Supreme Court ruling allows universities to consider an applicant’s views on how race has influenced their life experiences, as long as it relates to a quality of character or unique ability.
  • Harvard, along with other colleges like the University of Virginia and Sarah Lawrence, is adapting its approach to admissions to promote diversity and encourage students to share their personal stories.
  • These changes reflect a broader shift towards celebrating individual journeys and promoting inclusivity in higher education.