On John Dewey goes to college:
"The emphasis on "caring" as demonstrated in breathless essays, non-profits established and other "good deeds" does seem tailor made for manipulation on the part of the students and the colleges. The colleges have another avenue to justify picking whom they will."
On the other hand, the report does undermine the "job" as responsibility/group/teamwork learning idea by suggesting that it's a way for SES disadvantaged students to show service, rather than everyone (and, the same for family responsibilities, from the mundane -- doing chores -- to the more serious -- caring for siblings, or ill family, . . .).
The report also explicitly recognizing the gaming of these activities and makes the argument that, they hope, that gaming these recommendations will result in more social good than the gaming of academic achievement (stressful acceleration, overload of less than meaningful AP classes) and old style community service with leadership (multiplication of charitable endeavors to produce "leadership" opportunities).
I'm also betting that,like the mandatory "volunteer community service" in my kids' old district, that faith-based activities wouldn't cut it with this crowd - who we already know disfavor Boy Scouts, 4-H, FFA etc. There's another topnotch activity of community benefit, diversity, teamwork, performance and leadership and that's the US military - and one disfavored by most of academia, especially those institutions considering themselves elite. As a veteran, I am very offended by that.
I also see a lot of handwringing about SAT tutoring. It's almost like people are unaware of all the books on the subject that are easily available at libraries and book stores.
I also agree with the idea that college essays should be done under proctored conditions.
Dear Kind and Clearly (Hyper) Ambitious Students (and Parents of course!),
Thank you for your thoughtful and clearly time consuming applications. We at (fill in the blank awesome Ivy or West Coast SuperSchool otherwise known as Stanford) really appreciate your enthusiasm and interest in our school. Unfortunately you don’t seem to understand what we mean when we say we will look at “… your maturity, character, leadership, self-confidence, warmth of personality, sense of humor, energy, concern for others, and grace under pressure?” You seem to think that means you should take an overpriced summer trip to a Latin Country and do a small bit of “service”. We don’t think that is really that impressive, despite the thousands of dollars your family spent. We are looking for something more “authentic” We can’t tell you what that is exactly, or else we would get thousands of cookie cutter applications but trust us we will know it when we see it. We are telling our admissions counselors if you seem like you are poor it is ok to work at the Seven-Eleven just be sure as be able to write a compelling and soul-searching essay on cleaning the Slurpee machine.
We frankly are so sick of seeing the same application over and over again. Don’t you people know we get thousands of these? It’s hard to decide; you all really look the same. Why don’t you understand from our vague and uninformative guidelines what we want is depth and originality. No really, not another tap dancing video.
We hope these new vague guidelines will help you reach your true potential and your application will shine. We look forward to cashing your check and informing you in the spring that you are not accepted, along with thousands of others. We consider every application carefully (assuming you meet our strict cut offs for grades, test scores, AP courses, sports and ideally an alumni connection). You might beat the odds. Just remember the process is holistic and slightly mystical!