College Board CEO David Coleman: How Religious Education Helps Us Rethink the College Admissions Race

High school graduation is a season of joy as we witness a sea of smiling young graduates, ready for anything. However, those smiles far too often mask the years of anxiety over getting into the right college that led up to that point.

The stress doesn’t go away once they have entered college; too many of these young people struggle to cope with challenges they encounter on campus.

Our culture pushes young people to excel in the college admissions process so much that many families and their children end up trading away happiness for a terrible bargain. We need to chart a different course. Religious education can provide valuable wisdom for how to help students not just set their sights on applying to college but thriving in life.

Parents often tell me their kids are too busy. Their schedules are filled ferrying their children from one activity to another. As college applications loom, the hustle turns into a frenzy. Students juggle mounting commitments. The all-important college application has begun to haunt too many childhoods, whispering premature anxiety into questions of what to learn and how to spend time, even where to live.

Admission counselors admit that too many of those students who make it to their campuses languish when they arrive. They possess a fragile excellence. Faced with a significant challenge—such as living away from home for the first time, a difficult course, or other demands that come with college life—these students flounder. The skills of getting into college undermine the confidence to thrive once there.

While it may sound strange coming from the CEO of the College Board, I believe it’s time to stop the competitive madness that’s hurting our students. We must find a healthier approach, one based on lasting excellence rather than fragile success, one that leaves room for faith, family, and fun.

For us to change our culture, all of us in education to recognize that education is a soulcraft. The disciplines we cultivate in young people hold sway for the rest of their lives.

The best traditions of religious learning offer lessons for healthy intellectual and social development that prepare students to flourish not only while swept up in the admissions process but in the deeper challenges beyond.

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Source: Christianity Today