Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Is Character as Important as Grades?

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Hooligans, vandals, and violent teens beware - your "pranks," and unsocial behavior may cost you admission to the college of your choice!

As we have effectively raised the bar for students, many of today's college applicants have an "A" average, music, sports, and community service experience, so colleges have now started actively seeking students who will contribute positively to the college community by looking for feedback about the students conduct and character, in addition to their transcripts and test scores. Particularly amid heightened concerns about campus safety, more than 315 schools are requesting information from guidance counselors and students themselves about law breaking, disciplinary action, and even smoking in the bathrooms.

The questions are designed to help colleges select student with character and not just brains, and most high schools are warning incoming frosh that their behavior will impact college applications. Sadly, there are other schools that refuse to provide the information. It has been estimated that of the 1.2 million American teenagers who submitted the common application to join the college graduation class of 2012, it is estimated that about 5,500 had reported records of academic or behavioral misconduct.

I am very concerned that this new procedure really puts schools in a position of now only judging what inappropriate behavior is reportable to colleges, but also creates a situation in which honest reporting costs people their jobs when parent donors are angered and the number of students from the school getting into top schools starts to decline. Counselors are probably clear that violence against another student should not be swept under the rug, but what about drinking at a dance, cheating, or MySpace bullying? Who gets to decide what is important, especially if it did not result in a suspension or expulsion?

Photo credit: wassup_Bert_2332
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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