Saturday, July 20, 2013


Jonathan Reider, Ph.D.
Director of College Counseling
San Francisco University High School
June 2013

            “...In the humanities the pickings are quite thin. But we are encouraged by two programs: The Concord Review and the National Writing Board. The Concord Review [founded in 1987] has published 1,066 high school research papers in history [from 46 states and 38 other countries] in 97 issues, on a quarterly basis. The papers are 16-24 pages long [average 6,000 words, with endnotes and bibliography] and they demonstrate extensive research and writing skills. They are chosen rigorously, following high academic standards. Even submitting an essay, to say nothing of having one published, is evidence of serious scholarly achievement.
            The National Writing Board [founded in 1998] provides a unique independent assessment of serious student research papers, and submits its three-page reports to colleges at the request of the author. Thirty-nine colleges, both research universities and liberal arts colleges, have stated their willingness to accept these evaluations. This is an excellent tool for colleges to add to their array of evaluative techniques. While some colleges ask for a graded paper of the student’s work, few have the time or the expertise to evaluate these systematically as part of an application for admission. It is more efficient if these are evaluated by an independent and reliable source.

            Both of these services evaluate serious academic work undertaken as a part of the student’s high school curriculum. It is comparable to the kinds of tasks college faculty set for their own students. Thus there is greater “fit” between the material being evaluated and the future education of these students than exists for the other conventional measures. If we can encourage colleges and students to use these programs more widely, perhaps we can balance the frenzy of noneducational (or even anti-educational) activity by high school students with more substantial intellectual work in the humanities.” []


The following (39) colleges and universities now endorse this unique independent assessment service for academic writing: Amherst, Boston University, Bowdoin, Carnegie Mellon, Claremont McKenna, Colgate, Connecticut College, Cooper Union, Dartmouth, Duke, Eckerd, Emory, George Mason, Georgetown, Hamilton, Harvard, Haverford, Illinois Wesleyan, Lafayette, Lehigh, Michigan, Middlebury, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Pitzer, Princeton, Reed, Richmond, Sarah Lawrence, Shimer, Smith, Spelman, Stanford, Trinity (CT), Tufts, the University of Virginia, Washington and Lee, Williams, and Yale.

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