(Updating with new number of deans)

With the coronavirus pandemic upending everything about going to college, more than 300 admissions deans from schools around the country just released a statement about what they want to see in applicants for fall 2021 — and what they don’t want to see.

The statement, released Monday by the Making Caring Common project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, tells students what deans value in applicants. It is also an effort to relieve stress on families, according to Richard Weissbourd, a senior lecturer at Harvard University and faculty director of Making Caring Common. (You can read the full statement below with names of the signatories.)

The deans offer guidance on self-care and academic work, as well as advice on family contributions, service and extracurricular and summer activities.

This effort comes at a highly unusual time for colleges and universities. They are about to embark on unprecedented experiments welcoming to students to campus during a pandemic disease. Most have waived the requirement to include an ACT or SAT admissions score on freshman applications. According to the nonprofit National Center for Fair and Open Testing, more than half of four-year colleges and universities have waived the requirement for 2021, and many have done it as permanent policy.

College officials have long talked about their holistic admissions practices, but the fact is that test scores have played a large role in many admissions decisions and can even determine where a student decides to apply. For next year, test scores won’t be a factor.

So what do the admissions officials say they want and don’t want?

Here’s an example: “We, emphatically, do not seek to create a competitive public service ‘Olympics’ in response to this pandemic. What matters to us is whether students’ contribution or service is authentic and meaningful to them and to others, whether that contribution is writing regular notes to frontline workers or checking in with neighbors who are isolated. We will assess these contributions and service in the context of the obstacles students are facing.”

Weissbourd leads Turning the Tide, a national effort to reform college admissions to increase equity, cut down on pressure to achieve in high school and promote ethical engagement. The statement as of June 29, 2020, signed by more than 300 college deans, including from some of the most prestigious institutions in the country, comes out of Turning the Tide.

Here’s the text of the statement, along with the initial list of about 165 endorsers:

What We Care about in this Time of Crisis: A Collective Statement from College Admission Deans
As admission and enrollment leaders, we recognize that we and the institutions we represent send signals that can shape students’ priorities and experiences throughout high school. This collective statement seeks to clarify what we value in applicants during this time of COVID-19. We are keenly aware that students across the country and the world are experiencing many uncertainties and challenges. We primarily wish to underscore our commitment to equity, and to encourage in students self-care, balance, meaningful learning, and care for others.
More specifically, we value the following:
1. Self-care
Self-care is of high importance, especially in times of crisis. We recognize that many students, economically struggling and facing losses and hardships of many kinds, are simply seeking to get by. We also recognize that this time is stressful and demanding for a wide range of students for many different reasons. We encourage all students to be gentle with themselves during this time.
2. Academic work
Your academic engagement and work during this time matters to us, but given the circumstances of many families, we recognize that many of you face obstacles to academic work. We will assess your academic achievements in the context of these obstacles. In addition, we will assess your academic achievements mainly based on your academic performance before and after this pandemic. No student will be disadvantaged because of a change in commitments or a change in plans because of this outbreak, their school’s decisions about transcripts, the absence of AP or IB tests, their lack of access to standardized tests (although many of the colleges represented here don’t require these tests) or their inability to visit campus. We will also view students in the context of the curriculum, academic resources, and supports available to them.
3. Service and contributions to others.
We value contributions to one’s communities for those who are in a position to provide these contributions. We recognize that while many students are not in this position because of stresses and demands, other students are looking for opportunities to be engaged and make a difference. This pandemic has created a huge array of needs, whether for tutoring, contact tracing, support for senior citizens, or assistance with food delivery. We view responding to these needs as one valuable way that students can spend their time during this pandemic.
We also value forms of contribution that are unrelated to this pandemic, such as working to register voters, protect the environment, combat racial injustice and inequities or stop online harassment among peers. Our interest is not in whether students created a new project or demonstrated leadership during this period. We, emphatically, do not seek to create a competitive public service “Olympics” in response to this pandemic. What matters to us is whether students’ contribution or service is authentic and meaningful to them and to others, whether that contribution is writing regular notes to frontline workers or checking in with neighbors who are isolated. We will assess these contributions and service in the context of the obstacles students are facing. We also care about what students have learned from their contributions to others about themselves, their communities, and/or their country (Please see Turning the Tide for additional information about the kinds of contributions and service we value). No student will be disadvantaged during this time who is not in a position to provide these contributions. We will review these students for admissions in terms of other aspects of their applications.
4. Family contributions.
Far too often there is a misperception that high-profile, brief forms of service tend to “count” in admissions while family contributions—which are often deeper and more time-consuming and demanding—do not. Many students may be supervising younger siblings, for example, or caring for sick relatives or working to provide family income, and we recognize that these responsibilities may have increased during these times. We view substantial family contributions as very important, and we encourage students to report them in their applications. It will only positively impact the review of their application.
5. Extracurricular and summer activities.
No student will be disadvantaged for not engaging in extracurricular activities during this time. We also understand that many plans for summer have been impacted by this pandemic and students will not be disadvantaged for lost possibilities for involvement. Potential internship opportunities, summer jobs, camp experiences, classes, and other types of meaningful engagement have been cancelled or altered. We have never had specific expectations for any one type of extracurricular activities or summer experience and realize that each student’s circumstances allow for different opportunities. We have always considered work or family responsibilities as valuable ways of spending one’s time, and this is especially true at this time.
Reporting information that is important to students and to us. We will gather information from schools themselves about curriculum and academic resources and supports, but encourage students to communicate any factors specific to their circumstances that impeded their academic performance. Those factors might include, for example, lack of access to the internet, no quiet place to study, or the various family responsibilities described above. We encourage students to describe concretely how any of these circumstances have negatively affected their academic performance or ability to engage in activities that matter to them. It is helpful to know, for example, how much time students spent per week taking on a family responsibility, such as taking care of a sick relative. This information will be treated completely confidentially.
Both the Common Application and the Coalition for College application provide opportunities for students to describe how they have been impacted by the pandemic.
Initial list of endorsers
Cornell B. LeSane II, Vice President for Enrollment & Dean of Admissions, Allegheny College
Courtney Minden, Vice President of Enrollment Management, Babson College
Tony Cabasco, Vice President for Enrollment, Bennington College
Krista Medionte-Phillips, Director of Admissions, Binghamton University
Kelly Talbert, Director of Admissions, Boise State University
Grant Gosselin, Director of Undergraduate Admission, Boston College
Kelly A. Walter, Associate Vice President for Enrollment & Dean of Admissions, Boston University
E. Whitney Soule, Senior Vice President, Dean of Admissions & Student Aid, Bowdoin College
Jennifer Walker, Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid, Brandeis University
Logan Powell, Dean of Admission, Brown University
Cheryl Lynn Horsey, Chief Enrollment Officer, Bryn Mawr College
Bill Conley, Vice President for Enrollment Management, Bucknell University
Matthew Ward, Vice President, Enrollment Management & Marketing, California Lutheran University
Art D. Rodriguez, Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Carleton College
Rick Bischoff, Vice President for Enrollment, Case Western Reserve University
Jennifer DeHaemers, Vice President, Student Recruitment and Retention, Central Michigan University
Bob Nesmith, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, Centre College
Robert J. Lange III, Dean of Admission, Christopher Newport University
Meredith Twombly, Vice President for Admission and Financial Aid, Clark University
Gary Ross, Vice President for Admission and Financial Aid, Colgate University
Suzette Stille, Dean of Admissions, College of Charleston
Heather Albert-Knopp, Dean of Admission, College of the Atlantic
Ann McDermott, Director of Admission, College of the Holy Cross
Scott Friedhoff, Vice President for Enrollment, College of Wooster
Mark J. Hatch, Vice President for Enrollment, Colorado College
Jessica Marinaccio, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid, Columbia University
Andy Strickler, Dean of Admission & Financial Aid, Connecticut College
Jonathan Burdick, Vice Provost for Enrollment, Cornell University
Sarah Richardson, Assistant Vice Provost for Enrollment, Director of Admissions, Creighton University
Lee Coffin, Vice Provost and Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid, Dartmouth College
Christopher Gruber, Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, Davidson College
Iris Godes, Associate Vice President of Enrollment & Dean of Admissions, Dean College
Gregory Sneed, Vice President for Enrollment Management, Denison University
Bobby Andrews, Vice President for Enrollment Management, DePauw University
Anne E. Kremer, Dean of Admission, Drake University
Evelyn K. Thimba, Senior Vice President for Enrollment Management, Drexel University
John Sullivan, Vice President for Enrollment Management, Eckerd College
Alison Hildenbrand, Director of Undergraduate Admission, Fairfield University
Kristen Salomonson, Dean of Enrollment Services, Ferris State University
Jody E. Glassman, Director of University Admissions, Florida International University
Hege Ferguson, Director of Admissions, Florida State University
Patricia Peek, Dean of Undergraduate Admission, Fordham University
John Chenier, Assistant Dean of Admissions, Framingham State University
Jimmie Foster, Jr., Vice President of Enrollment Management, Franklin & Marshall
Amy Takayama-Perez, Dean of Admissions, George Mason University
Rick Clark, Director of Undergraduate Admission, Georgia Institute of Technology
Gail Sweezey, Dean of Admissions, Gettysburg College
Erin Hays, Director of Admission, Gonzaga University
Monica C. Inzer, Vice President of Enrollment Management, Hamilton College
Mai Nhia Xiong-Chan, Vice President of Enrollment, Hamline University
Fumio Sugihara, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Hampshire College
William Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Harvard University
Thyra Briggs, VP for Admission & Financial Aid, Harvey Mudd College
Jess Lord, Vice President & Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, Haverford College
Andrew Bills, Senior Vice President for Enrollment, High Point University
Anthony E. Jones, Associate Provost/Assistant Vice-President of Enrollment Management, Howard University
David M. Phillips, Vice Provost for Admissions and Financial Aid, Johns Hopkins University
Diane Anci, Dean of Admissions & Vice President for Enrollment, Kenyon College
Jennifer Sekol, Director of Admissions, Keystone College
Gregory V. MacDonald, Vice President Enrollment Management, Lafayette College
Ken Anselment, Vice President for Enrollment & Communication, Lawrence University
Matthew X Fissinger, Assistant Vice Provost, Undergraduate Admission, Loyola Marymount University
Eric Nichols, VIce President for Enrollment Management, Loyola University Maryland
Michael Konopski, Vice President for Enrollment Management, Lycoming College
Kent Rinehart, Dean of Admission, Marist College
Brian Troyer, Dean of Admissions, Marquette University
Stuart Schmill, Dean of Admissions and Student Financial Services, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Shery Boyles, Director of Admission, Meredith College
Bethany Perkins, Director of Admission, Miami University
John Ambrose, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Michigan State University
Allison A Carter, Director of Admissions, Michigan Technological University
Nicole Curvin, Dean of Admissions, Middlebury College
Angel Perez, CEO-Elect, National Association for College Admission Counseling
Jon Westover, Associate Vice Provost & Director of Admissions, NC State University
MJ Knoll-Finn, Senior Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success, New York University
Martin Sauer, Vice-President for Enrollment Management & Athletics, North Central College, IL
Gerri Daniels, Executive Director of Admissions, Northern Michigan University
Christopher Watson, Associate Vice President, Dean of Undergraduate Enrollment, Northwestern University
Dawn Aubry, Vice President of Enrollment Management, Oakland University
Manuel Carballo, Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Oberlin College
Candace J. Boeninger, Interim Vice Provost for Strategic Enrollment Management, Ohio University
Emily Roper-Doten, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, Olin College of Engineering
Noah Buckley, Director of Admissions, Oregon State University
Kristy Paredes Collins, Dean of Enrollment Management, Pepperdine
Karen Richardson, Dean of Admission, Princeton University
Raul Fonts, Associate VP/Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, Providence College
Mitch Warren, Director of Admissions, Purdue University
David Lesesne, Vice President for Enrollment, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Randolph-Macon College
J. Carey Thompson, Vice President for Enrollment and Communications, Dean of Admission, Rhodes College
Faye F. Tydlaska, Vice President for Enrollment Management, Rollins College
Thomas E. Bear, Vice President for Enrollment Management, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Courtney McAnuff, Vice Chancellor, Enrollment Management, Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Jennifer Pahl, Director of Admissions, Saginaw Valley State University
Pamela Holsinger-Fuchs, Dean of Enrollment, Saint Martin’s University
Eva Blanco Masias, Vice President for Enrollment Management, Santa Clara University
Kevin McKenna, Vice President for Enrollment, Sarah Lawrence College
Mary Lou Bates, Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Skidmore College
Audrey Smith, Vice President for Enrollment, Smith College
Enga Almeida, Strategic Coordinator, Southwestern Adventist University
Tom Delahunt, Vice President, Recruitment and Enrollment, Southwestern University
Benjamin Baum, Vice President of Enrollment, St. John’s College
Rosalind V. Alderman, VP Enrollment Management, St. Mary's University
Chris George, Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid, St. Olaf College
Richard H. Shaw, Dean of Undergraduate Admission and Financial Aid, Stanford University
Jim Bock, Vice President and Dean of Admissions, Swarthmore College
Aaron Basko, Vice President of Enrollment Management, Sweet Briar College
Maurice Harris, Dean of Admissions, Syracuse University
Shawn L. Abbott, Vice Provost for Admissions, Financial Aid & Enrollment Management, Temple University
Chris Reed, Executive Director of Admissions, Texas A&M
University Heath Einstein, Dean of Admission, Texas Christian University
Jamie Hansard, Vice President of Enrollment Management, Texas Tech University
Beth Wiser, Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions, The Ohio State University
James Nondorf, Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, The University of Chicago
Lee Ann Backlund, VP for Enrollment & Dean of Admission & Aid, The University of the South Adrienne
Amador Oddi, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Trinity College
Eric Maloof, Vice President for Enrollment Management, Trinity University
J.T. Duck, Dean of Admissions & Enrollment Management, Tufts University
Dale Bittinger, Assistant Vice Provost, Undergraduate Admissions and Orientation, UMBC University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Matt Malatesta, Vice President for Admissions, Financial Aid and Enrollment, Union College
Kasey Urquidez, Vice President, Enrollment Management & Dean, Undergraduate Admissions, University of Arizona
Lisa Przekop, Director of Admissions, University of California Santa Barbara
Gordon D. Chavis, Jr Associate Vice President-Enrollment Services SDES, University of Central Florida
Clark V. Brigger, Executive Director of Admissions, University of Colorado Boulder
Nathan Fuerst, Vice President, Enrollment Planning & Management, University of Connecticut
Rodney Morrison, Vice President for Enrollment Management, University of Delaware
Todd Rinehart, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment, University of Denver
Zina Evans, Vice President Enrollment Management, University of Florida
Andy Borst, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign
Brent A. Gage, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, University of Iowa
Matt Melvin, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management, University of Kansas
Christine Harper, Associate Provost of Enrollment Management, University of Kentucky
Kedra Ishop, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management, University of Michigan
Heidi Meyer, Executive Director of Admissions, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Scott E. Steinberg, Vice President of University Admissions, University of New England
Robert McGann, Director of Admissions, University of New Hampshire
Stephen Farmer, Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Don Bishop, Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Enrollment, University of Notre Dame
Jim Rawlins, Assistant Vice President, Director of Admissions, University of Oregon
Eric J. Furda, Dean of Admissions, University of Pennsylvania
Marc Harding, Vice Provost for Enrollment, University of Pittsburgh
Matthew Boyce, Vice President for Enrollment, University of Puget Sound
Stephanie Dupaul, Vice President of Enrollment Management, University of Richmond
Michael Beseda, Vice Provost for Enrollment, University of San Francisco
Mary Wagner, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management, Executive Director of Admissions, University of South Carolina
Timothy Brunold, Dean of Admission, University of Southern California
Fabrizio D’Aloisio, Assistant Vice Provost for Enrollment Management and Director of Undergraduate Admissions, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Rachelle Hernandez, Senior Vice Provost for Enrollment Management, University of Texas at Austin
Steve Robinson, Senior Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, University of Utah
Ryan Hargraves, Executive Director of Admissions, University of Vermont
Greg Roberts, Dean of Admission, University of Virginia
Derek Kindle, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Jeffery T. Gates, Senior Vice President for Student Life and Enrollment Management, Utica College
Douglas L. Christiansen, Vice Provost for University Enrollment Affairs and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Vanderbilt University
Michael Gaynor, Executive Director of Undergraduate Admission, Villanova University
Karen Vargas, Dean of Admissions, Wake Forest University
Sally Stone Richmond, Vice President for Admissions and Financial Aid, Washington and Lee University
Ronné P. Turner, Vice Provost for Admissions and Financial Aid, Washington University in St. Louis
Dawn Medley, Associate Vice-President of Enrollment Management, Wayne State University
Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez, Vice President & Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, Wesleyan University
George M. Zimmerman, Executive Director of Admissions and Recruitment, West Virginia University
Alicia Kornowa, Director of Admissions, Western Michigan University
Josh Jensen, Vice President for Enrollment and Communications, Whitman College
Thomas K. Malloy, Associate Vice President, Enrollment Management, Widener University
Tim Wolfe, Associate Vice President for Enrollment, William & Mary
Liz Creighton, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, Williams College
Andrew B. Palumbo, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Jeremiah Quinlan, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions & Financial Aid, Yale University