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Leadership Are admissions offices obsessed with leadership skills among applicants? Jim Jump considers the issues. By May 15, Are the admissions offices at American colleges and universities obsessed with leadership? Is leadership valued over other traits and accomplishments?
Does leadership give a student an admissions advantage? Those questions came up in an e-mail I received last week from my high school student correspondent in Hanoi. The questions arose from two sources.
The first was among several on the questionable practices of the college counseling centers in Vietnam. One was encouraging students to set up events to demonstrate leadership and pad their resumes. The other was encouraging students to pursue certain kinds of activities at the expense of others, for example political or social activism rather than artistic excellence, no matter what the student might prefer.
I think leadership is a euphemism in the same way that character once was. Both are real and desirable, but they also can serve as umbrella concepts for other qualities, qualities like passion a close college counseling friend argues that no high school student has true passioncommitment, persistence, and selflessness.
When colleges talk about leadership they are really talking about individuals who make a difference in their community. For them the admissions process often seems less about admitting students than recruiting future alumni whose success will reflect positively on their alma mater.
That begs a larger question, whether the admissions process should reward past performance or future potential. Unfortunately, true leaders, like true scholars, are few and far between. Leadership and having a title or position are not necessarily the same thing. If you are student council president, editor of the high school newspaper, or captain of the football team, you are one of 38, nationally, the approximate number of high schools in the United States.
Some of those holding those positions are effective and difference-makers, while others have accomplished their agenda as soon as they receive the position. Other students try to demonstrate leadership by starting clubs or activities.
I have known of parents, similar to the college counseling centers in Vietnam, starting and being the driving forces for activities in order to benefit their children when they apply for admission. I am skeptical of the value of any activity selected or leadership pursued primarily for college admission advantage.
Can colleges tell the difference between authentic leadership and leadership done to enhance an application? I would hope so. An obvious way is to change the way students list activities on applications. When applications provide lots of spaces for leadership or activities, students feel pressure to fill as many lines as possible.
Several years ago the Morehead-Cain Scholarship at the University of North Carolina, a highly prestigious full ride, concerned that the application was encouraging students who were resume builders, changed the application to ask applicants to list fewer activities but with more detail about them.
Does an emphasis on leadership in the admissions process reward certain kinds of students, and is it the kind we want to reward? I worry that the current system, especially at highly-selective universities, rewards students who are resume enhancers or self-promoters at the expense of students who are servant-leaders, who work behind the scenes without fanfare.
But is that different from society at large?
In a culture where style is worshiped over substance, where celebrity is valued more than accomplishment or character, what messages do young people receive? I have long contended that anyone who wants to run for President of the United States is not the person I want leading the country that is not a commentary on anyone who currently holds office.
But colleges and universities have a responsibility not to follow but to lead, and what they choose to value in the admissions process molds behavior. That report focused on using the admissions process to change student mindsets about service and community engagement.sample leadership essay essays on leadership leadership essay free online free essays on leadership tony blair leadership essay college essays leadership bbyo what is leadership essay admission essays incoming college freshman leadership argumentive essay's on leadership.
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