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Harvard EdCast: Putting Ethics First in College Admissions

How parents and high schools can refocus of the college admissions process for students to bring ethics front and center.

Richard WeissbourdWhen news about the college admissions scandal broke in March, many parents may have struggled to see themselves in what Senior Lecturer Rick Weissbourd calls a continuum of negative and unethical behavior directed at getting their children into some of the supposed best colleges in the country.

“A lot of what’s driving this crazy achievement pressure is people think there are 30 or 40 great colleges in the country, and they are trying to shoehorn their kids into those colleges,” he says. “The reality is, and the data really supports this, that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of great colleges in this country. They really have to make the case strongly to parents, and persuasively, that there are a lot of great colleges for your kid.”

Through his work at the Making Caring Common Project (MCC), Weissbourd is trying to better understand and guide parents, students, and colleges toward a more meaningful, and ethical college admissions process. MCC’s latest report, Turning the Tide II: How Parents and High Schools Can Cultivate Ethical Character and Reduce Distress in The College Admissions Process, calls on parents and high schools to place students' ethical character front and center in the college admissions process. To get there, he’s also calling on adults, especially parents, to be better ethical role models.

Weissbourd also stresses the importance of focusing on finding the best college fit for your child. “What matters in terms of career success and lifetime success is not what college you go to but whether you are meaningfully engaged,” he says.

About the Harvard EdCast

The Harvard EdCast is a weekly podcast featuring brief conversations with education leaders and innovative thinkers from across the country and around the world. Hosted by Jill Anderson, the EdCast is a dynamic space for discourse about problems and transformative solutions in education, shining a light on the compelling people, policies, practices, and ideas shaping the field. Find the EdCast on iTunes, Soundcloud, and Stitcher