I am sharing a series of seven thoughts from the Making Caring Common (MCC) report, “Turning the Tide II” that addresses character in college admissions. This is specifically for parents. If you have any questions for Glenn Manning, Senior Project Manager for MCC, let me know and I’ll ask!
As a recap here are the first four points:
 Keep the focus on your teen.
“In an effort to give their kids everything, these parents often end up robbing them of what counts.”
 Follow your ethical GPS.
“The college admissions process often tests both parents’ and teens’ ethical character.”
 Use the admissions process as an opportunity for ethical education.
Students may “struggle with how much they can embellish their applications and ‘play the game’ without compromising their own authenticity and integrity.”
 Be authentic.
“Many parents fail to have authentic, honest conversations with their teens during the college admissions process and send conflicting messages.”
 Encourage your teen to contribute to others in meaningful ways.
Serve. Volunteer. Donate. Charity. Handout. Gift. Offering. Community Service.
There are many ways to contribute and guide our teenagers to impact others.
Remind them that they were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10).
The authors write that “what makes service valuable is not whether it involves a trip to a new country or launching a new project. It's also not what matters to admissions deans.”
Does your student’s contribution bring value to others? No, this not the same as the number five value meal at your favorite drive-thru.
“What makes service meaningful and what matters to the deans is whether service is chosen based on authentic interest and is immersive, meaningful, and sustained.”
Paul exhorted the Christians in Ephesus to “serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people” (Ephesians 6:7).
Community service is not just for college admissions.
"You should do good to everyone. Be rich in good deeds" (1 Timothy 6:18).
Students who can identify their unique purpose can participate in ways that align with their selected career path. Having internships, volunteer work, and even part-time work that supports their intended major makes it easier for college admissions officials to accept those students.
Allowing them to feed the homeless, clean a hiking trail, play dominos with the elderly, read to children, or something else in your community while in middle school, gives them the opportunity to find one or two ways to continue this throughout high school.
Exotic experiences, mission trip vacations, or one-time service projects do not build character. They build images for social media posts.
Do not try to one up another student’s project so your admission essay has extra flair. Use your spiritual gifts and special skills to serve others. Peter wrote, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).
Consider the Michigan junior who organized monthly birthday parties for foster youth. As the leader, he connected with people to provide presents, cake or cupcakes, and the location. He was adding value to the lives of these students. He used his giftedness and skills. He developed a consistent, quality program.
The MCC team offers four conversations parents can have with their teenager:
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
What are some meaningful ways your teenager is contributing to your community?
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.