Katherine Timpf of National Review Online highlights an unusual element of the application process for Dartmouth’s business school.

Dartmouth’s business school has announced that it will judge its applicants partially on their “niceness.”

The Tuck School of Business will decide whether to admit applicants based on four criteria: smartness, accomplishment, niceness, and awareness, according to a post on Tuck’s official website.

A subsection on the school’s “Admissions Criteria” we page, titled “Tuck Students Are Nice,” states:

“This is quintessential Tuck, where you cultivate a habit of kindness. You actively encourage, celebrate, and support others. But being nice does not mean you’re a pushover who always agrees and defers. Nice Tuck candidates exhibit emotional intelligence. …”

… Now, I’m certainly not anti-nice. Like most people, I would much rather spend time around a nice person than a mean person, and I also like when I see good things — like business-school acceptance — happening to nice people. Still, I really don’t think that this is the best way for Tuck to be deciding which students it will and will not admit.

You see, “niceness” is not exactly an easy quality to identify in a person. There are plenty of fake people out there who may seem nice because they’re smiley and friendly but who are actually not good people. Conversely, there are also people out there who might seem stuck-up because they’re not smiley and friendly, but who are just shy and actually very nice at the core. I have a hard time believing that the admissions people are going to be able to tell how “nice” someone is — especially through something as cursory as reading an answer to an essay prompt.