Admissions standards and requirements are changing. Student and family expectations are likewise in flux. Responsible leadership recognizes the complexities playing on the mind and heart of students. Honesty, rather than twisting trepidation and apprehension into enrollment and cash flow, is more necessary than ever.

“Colleges are capitalizing on the deep anxiety and ambitions of parents and the hopes of their children that are tied directly to the prestige of a school,”

Mitchell L. Stevens, associate professor, Stanford Graduate School of Education

Last week, The Atlantic ran a story by Phoebe Maltz Bovy, “The False Promise of ‘Holistic’ College Admissions.” Holistic admissions processes go beyond student ACT scores, class ranks, courses taken and grade point averages and even extra curricula activities. Holistic admissions requirements often include soul-baring personal essays and pleas for consideration.

You may recall JFK’s famous Harvard application treatise: It read, in part, “Then too, I would like to go to the same college as my father. To be a ‘Harvard man’ is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain.” In this case, young Mr. Kennedy’s 1935 revelations were in response to a simple question on the Harvard form that asked, “Why do you want to come to Harvard? (The committee will expect a careful answer to this question.)” This represents an early manifestation of holistic admissions.