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Grad Schools Avoiding "Jerks" During Application Process


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Increasingly, I have been hearing about how admissions offices are trying to figure out efforts to avoid "jerks" in their admissions process. Part of this is to foster a community oriented student ecosystem and part of their program branding. One of my grad schools subtle did the same thing.

For example, essay topic/interview questions about citizenship, community involvement, and helping out others. 

I do wonder if 

A.this is smart or not so smart

B. this is appropriate 

C. This might risk becoming subtle proxy for applicant bias

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I'm not sure that this would work if the intention is as you describe. Community involvement does not straightforwardly track congeniality, and I'm not sure that there is an effective way of judging students' character prior to admitting them. A similar phenomenon occurs in job hiring: you just cannot tell who is going to be kind and nice to work with until they're hired since everyone puts on their best face for applications and interviews.

I don't know how admission committees work in other locales, but in Canada the academics on the committee have a lot of latitude. Some consult CVs and documents about extracurriculars, others aren't interested. So I don't know that requiring more documents of this kind would matter for institutions where academics are disinterested in them.

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