The Importance of Mentors in High School


Alyza Sebenius’ recent article in the Atlantic that focused on mentors, specifically their role in the lives of students with disadvantages, brought me right back to my dissertation. Although the article discusses the power of mentorship broadly, I was especially excited about the discussion of Robert Putnam’s Our Kid’s (an updated, sharper Bowling Alone), whose work and definition of social capital/social capital theory I use in my dissertation:

Putnam, who in his book notes that privileged youth are two to three times more likely to have an informal mentor outside of their family, said that “kids from working-class homes need more caring adults in their lives.” Disadvantaged students, he said, often lack access to the range of role models available to their more privileged peers—such as coaches, clergy, neighbors, or family friends. Absent these advisors, underprivileged students may be deprived of the kinds of information necessary for navigating and thriving in large institutions like colleges—for exercising what Putnam described as “savvy.”

This information, my dissertation and many other studies found, can be obtained when students develop relationships with not only mentors outside of school but also teachers, counselors and even principals. It is no surprise that this article goes on to discuss school counselors (and college) specifically:

Mentors are just one form of role models on campus that can shape student outcomes. School counselors represent another tier of non-teacher adults who can make a large difference for students: A 2013 study correlated the addition of a single guidance counselor at a given school with a 10 percentage point increase in four-year-college-going rates at the school.

Read the full article here:



Class of 2020 Early Admission Results

Class of 2020 Early Admission Results

The institution (Plan) Applied Admitted Rate Link
Brown (ED) 3,030 669 22% Link
Columbia (ED) 3,520 Link
Dartmouth (ED) 1,927 494 26% Link
Dickinson (ED1) 251 220 88% Link
Duke (ED) 3,455 813 24% Link
Georgetown (REA) 7,027 892 13% Link
Harvard (SCEA) 6,173 918 15% Link
Johns Hopkins (ED) 1,929 584 30% Link
Middlebury (ED1) 636 338 53% Link
MIT (EA) 7,767 656 8% Link
Northwestern (ED) 3,022 1,061 35% Link
Princeton (SCEA) 4,229 767 18% Link
Stanford (REA) 7,822 745 10% Link
University of Georgia (EA) 14,516 7,500 52% Link
UPenn (ED) 5,762 1,335 23% Link
Williams (ED) 585 246 42% Link
Yale (SCEA) 4,662 795 17% Link

How many schools should I apply to?


For most students, counselors recommend applying to between six and eight colleges, with at least one safety school, one reach school, and a few good fit schools where you feel you’re likely to be admitted. I agree! Too many students today are applying to 10, 12, even 20+ schools. Applying to more schools does not mean, in most cases, getting more acceptances (from my experience). Read more from Money’s Kaitlin Mulhere, here.

How well do traditional college admissions criteria reflect creativity?


The answer is, as you probably guessed, not so well. Read this awesome post by Scott Barry Kaufman, the Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute and a researcher in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, on how current college admissions criteria penalize our most creative students.

“If higher education faculty and administrators seek to develop critical and creative thinkers who can adapt to and innovate in a rapidly changing society, we must identify and develop creativity among our students. Such a goal can mean changing curricula or changing selection practices used for college admission.”


Teaching quality and academic rigor are not necessarily stronger at prestigious institutions

Teachers College CU Image

But what if the richest and best-known colleges and universities don’t provide the highest-quality education? Would the perceived value of degrees from those institutions decline, and would colleges that were shown in fact to provide higher-quality courses be held in more esteem than they are now?

New research raising more interesting questions about how we define quality in higher education. Read more about the research of Corbin M. Campbell and Marisol Jimenez of Teachers College and Christine Arlene N. Arrozal of Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, supported by a fellowship from the National Academy of Education and the Spencer Foundation here.