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Why Are American Colleges Obsessed With ‘Leadership’?

Earlier this month, more than 700,000 students submitted the Common Application for college admissions. They sent along academic transcripts and SAT scores, along with attestations of athletic or artistic success and—largely uniform—bodies of evidence speaking to more nebulously-defined characteristics: qualities like—to quote the Harvard admissions website—“maturity, character, leadership, self-confidence, warmth of personality, sense of humor, energy, concern for others and grace under pressure.”

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