Shaped by discussions among educational leaders across the nation, the Character Collaborative was founded in 2016 and grew to include 74 member organizations and 300 active participants. As of July 27, 2023, the Collaborative will become NACAC’s Character Focus Initiative (CFI).  CFI will include important constituencies committed to our common goal of elevating elements of student character in the admissions process.  Now, with the impact of the Supreme Court ruling in Affirmative Action in college admission, renewed focus nationally 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. 

ANNOUNCING THREE  COURSES: Overview, Recommendation Letters & Essays

Recognizing the challenge and opportunity that a vastly increased number of test optional applicants presents to admissions staff, the Character Collaborative in partnership with NACAC announces  three on-line courses now available through NACAC’S Character Focus Initiative site:  Assessing Character in Admission: Essential Elements reviews the challenges in assessing character, the core principles of character assessment, selecting tools for evidence of character, determining effective ways to rate character, and developing a sound decision-making process. Writing and Evaluating Letters of  Recommendation for Character gives school counselors important guidance on advising teachers and non-school references on how to emphasize character attributes in their letters, and gives admission officers options in evaluating these attributes in a consistent way.  And our newest course, Application Essays: Evaluating and Advising with Character in Mind where 25 experts in college advising, teaching and college admission share insights into how to best prepare students for the application essay and how to discover character attributes through the written word.

Character Focus Initiative (Character Collaborative) Pre-NACAC conference seminar.  September 21, 2023 

At this introductory seminar, co-led by members of the former Character Collaborative (now NACAC’s Character Focus Initiative), and Harvard’s Making Caring Common, college admission leaders will learn about up-to-date research, theory, and practical challenges and opportunities associated with applicant character review in admission. While non-academic factors have always played a role in college admission, it has never been more critical than it is today for colleges to create formal processes to assess these factors, as test optional policies and legal challenges have changed the college admissions landscape. All participants will leave with (1) an understanding of why this work matters and steps required to do it well, and (2) concrete tools to support them as they continue this work upon returning to their home institutions.  To register, please go to NACAC’s conference website:


  • Bob Massa, VP Emeritus- Enrollment and College Relations/Dickinson College; Character Collaborative Past Chair
  • Thomas Bear, VP of Enrollment Management/Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology; Character Collaborative Board Chair
  • Richard Weissbourd, Faculty Director/Making Caring Common; Senior Lecturer/Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Trisha Ross Anderson, College Admission Program Director/Making Caring Common
  • Scott Jaschik, Editor Emeritus, Inside Higher Ed
  • Kevin McKenna, VP Enrollment, Sarah Lawrence College
  • Jonathan Williams, Assoc VP Enrollment, New York University