Over the summer, as I connected with admissions officers, one common theme emerged from our conversations. When asking the admissions officers what their respective schools were looking for in applicants, numerous officers responded that they were looking for candidates with strong character. Candidates who displayed such qualities as being honest, trustworthy, and hardworking. Students who do not cheat. Apparently, as they stated, cheating has become quite an issue within high schools across the country. Cheating at the college level is an offense that will get you dismissed from the university, making it extremely difficult to be accepted by another.
At Clariden, we value good character, as reflected in our P.R.I.D.E. citizenship model, and our highest award – The Cougar P.R.I.D.E. Award given at the end of each school year to the student from each program that displayed strong citizenship and character throughout the school year. We want our students to be individuals who are respectful, can be trusted, who are honest, who know how to empathize, and who strive each day to be their “best self”. In an effort to show our students and community that we value these qualities, as well as our arts and athletic programs, Clariden’s art, music and physical education educators will be choosing a student each month, from each program, that exemplify the qualities of being a good Clariden citizen. So beyond ability (your score, your grade), what’s your attitude, your ambition, your integrity, your willingness to try – are you leading and/or contributing well? Fine Arts (art, music, dance, theatre) and Physical Education can be tough for some students as it stretches and challenges them.
As I spoke with the admissions officers, I realized that they valued the same qualities we value here at Clariden.  I was, however, unable to figure out how they were determining students with strong character over those without such qualities. As I work with our seniors on their essays and short answers for the universities they’re applying to, I now know how the admissions officers are determining if a student is of strong character. They are making them write about it, as it relates to self, and to give examples. Much easier of a task for one who has such qualities and applied them over time, not so easy for others.
Be sure to recognize and commend your child when displaying strong character. It’s human nature to commend the tangibles, the grades, but perhaps even more valued are the intangibles, the qualities that produce individuals of strong character. Building good character in children takes time and effort. Energy well spent, as not only are the universities looking for and valuing those students with strong character – but the world as a whole needs such individuals.
Please congratulate this month’s winners!