THE BLOG
11/20/2014 02:57 pm ET Updated Jan 19, 2015

Rigor in the Admissions Process

Without SAT/ACT scores, and recognizing that grades are not a true measure of learning, how does a selective college make admissions decisions?

We evaluate applicants the same way they'll be evaluated as students -- through a narrative of effort, accomplishment, and growth. We look at their ability to present themselves in essays and interviews, recommendations from their mentors, and factors such as civic engagement and entrepreneurial creativity. And yes, we look quite closely at high school academic records, although assessing them in an unconventional manner.

Students entering Hampshire must be ready to take on the challenges and rewards of working with professors to shape their own course of study, an approach that is inherently and uniquely rigorous. They will need the grit and independent mindedness to take charge of their own intellectual and creative development. Our admissions process looks for an overarching narrative that shows motivation, discipline, and the capacity for self-reflection.

This neither requires nor precludes a consistent "A" average. The consistent "A" may be coupled with abundant evidence of curiosity that devours learning across disciplines. Another student may have a lively mind that they've learned over time to focus, while also initiating socially conscious projects driven by empathy and leadership. Another may have overcome obstacles through determination and perseverance, demonstrating that they possess what it takes to succeed in a highly demanding program.

Strong applicants bring purpose, a passion for authenticity, and evidence of commitment to contribute to positive change. Using a holistic approach in considering them rewards real strengths, not just a numerical representation such as a grade point average or standardized test score, which may not in reality indicate much about the individual.