Character Collaborative and NACAC to Launch Third Training Course

Shanda Ivory

Character Collaborative and NACAC to Launch Third Training Course


Arlington, VA (December 3, 2021) – The Character Collaborative and National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) today announced the launch of “Application Essays: Evaluating and Advising with Character in Mind” the third course in a series designed to provide guidance on the value of character attributes in colleges and schools. The content of this course is particularly targeted to school and independent counselors and to admission office readers.

The Character Collaborative, an organization of over 70 schools and colleges, college counselors, associations, and researchers nation-wide, was created in 2016 to promote changes in school and college admission practices that reflect the significance of character strengths in attaining success in school, college, and career. NACAC, with its membership of more than 14,000 institutions and individuals, advocates on behalf of the profession and students and families navigating the college admission process.

“Today, with the impact of COVID-19, renewed focus on access and equity, and rapid alteration of the testing world, there is an accelerated movement toward holistic admission, including the elevation of character attributes,” said David Holmes, executive director of the Character Collaborative.

Board Chair Robert Massa added, “ Counselors need to advise their students based on their knowledge of how different institutions weight certain non-academic factors in the selection process. With regard to application essays, Admission staff today are challenged to design and implement a selection process that incorporates subtle but important changes in their evaluation of applicants. Recognizing these challenges especially in light of the vast increase in test optional admission, the Character Collaborative, together with NACAC, has produced the third of seven planned courses to give counselors and admission professionals the tools and insights they need to factor into their advising and admission processes attributes of character that are important to institutional mission.”

“NACAC is pleased to partner with the Character Collaborative on this training program,” NACAC CEO Angel B. Perez said. “As a profession, we have long known that existing admission criteria are limited in their ability to predict success, and even more limited in their ability to create more equitable admission outcomes. This training is an important resource to help us integrate a more complete set of factors into our admission decision-making processes.”

Members of the Collaborative and NACAC can participate in the course free of charge. Also included in this link is the first course, “Assessing Character in Admission: An Introduction,” and the second course, “Writing and Evaluating Letters of Recommendation for Character.” Users will need to register for a free Thinkific Account before being able to access the class.

The course provides guidance to college admission officers in interpreting, assessing, and rating character factors presented in application essays. In addition, it offers strategies of support and advisement for the counselors, teachers, and family members that advise students in the writing of these essays.

The 60- to 75-minute course development was coordinated by Sarah McGinty, formerly of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the author of the College Board’s “The College Application Essay.” Arlene Cash, a recently retired enrollment manager with over 25 years of experience at major public universities and private colleges assisted in the administration of course. Twenty-six professionals in colleges, schools and associations across the country and one current first-year student were interviewed for this course, including Angel Perez, Meghan Breneman, Donald Hossler, Rick Weissbourd, Tricia Anderson, Adaeze Ogunedo, David Holmes, William Conley, Robert Massa, Audrey Smith, Scott White, Rick Clark, Tara Dowling, Scott Anderson, Elijah Megginson, Juan Alvarez and the teachers of Eagan High School in Minnesota.

Other courses in the series, which will be rolled out over the course of the next two years, include:

· Signaling the Importance of Character

· Character Assessment Readiness

· Character Assessment in High Schools

· Why Character Matters

· Evaluating the Impact of Character in Admission

For more information about these courses, or to inquire about joining the Character Collaborative, contact Executive Director David Holmes ( or Board Chair Bob Massa (


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