Selective Disengagement


"A 'Fit' Over Rankings: Why College Engagement Matters More than Selectivity" by Challenge Success

October 1, 2018

While perhaps this white paper from Stanford University's Challenge Success research group won't surprise independent school educators, the paper is nonetheless exceedingly helpful in distilling recent research and articulating for our school communities why college engagement is so much more important than college selectivity. The paper's executive summary overviews three main tenets: 1) that rankings are problematic; 2) that college selectivity is not a reliable predictor of student learning, job satisfaction, or well-being; and 3) that engagement in college is more important than where you attend. Educators and parents/guardians alike will find the analysis of rankings fascinating and worthwhile, revealing the irrelevance and subjectivity of most existing metrics and identifying some of the more meaningful data colleges don't or can't gather. Particularly noteworthy are six factors Gallup-Purdue studies have proven to matter in a college experience towards future job satisfaction and well-being: engaging professors, professor-student relationships, mentors encouraging personal goals, sustained project work, internships to apply learning, and extracurricular activity. The paper, ultimately, promotes seeking a good "fit," which Challenge Success defines as "a school where students can engage and participate fully in academic and social life in order to thrive both during the college years and beyond."

Submitted By: Meghan Tally, Windward School, Los Angeles, CA

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