ICYMI: Check Out NACAC’s Facebook Live Q&A about College Signing Day

Get ready to celebrate!

Monday is College Decision Day — the deadline at many institutions for students to accept an offer of admission and make a tuition deposit.

And on Friday, schools and communities across the country will once again host College Signing Day events. The tradition was started in 2014 by former First Lady Michelle Obama and is being spearheaded this year by Civic Nation’s Better Make Room initiative.

“Some education past high school has to be the goal for every young person,” Eric Waldo, of Civic Nation, said Thursday during a Facebook Live Q&A at NACAC headquarters. “That was true when we were in the White House. That’s true now that we’re not in the White House.”

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Member View: Despite Political Climate, International Students Still Seek US Degrees


Ten cities. Thirteen days. From London to Shanghai to meet with newly admitted students. It’s my version of The Amazing Race, but without the $1 million at the finish line.

The first question I’m asked when discussing my itinerary is, “Are you nuts?!” The answer, from my perspective anyway, is, “No, I love doing it and I’ve found two weeks to be the perfect trip length.”

The second question is either, “Wow, how are people feeling about our country?” or “Do international students still want to come to university in the US?” Like any good admission officer, my answer is, “It depends.”

It depends on the country.

China is a vital market for many universities, and the political climate didn’t appear to be too much of a concern in Beijing and Shanghai. There, families were much more concerned about the “usual” topics—safety, academics, and post-graduation opportunities. I was surprised by the number of families more concerned about the legalization of marijuana in California than the political situation! Having said that, I had large-group and one-on-one conversations about the international environment in every other city on the trip—London, Dubai, Mumbai, Delhi, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, and Seoul. Families are legitimately concerned about whether their child will even get a visa, how welcomed international students will be upon arrival, and whether they will be targets for bullying and/or racial discrimination on campus or in the surrounding area. Not too surprisingly, this was a HUGE topic in India, the United Arab Emirates, and Singapore, all countries with a large Indian population. And all countries that add to our international diversity on campus.

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Legislative Update: Affiliates Ramp Up Advocacy Efforts

After last month’s successful Advocacy Day in Washington, DC, advocacy efforts within many NACAC affiliates are on the rise.

Over the past several months, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee have hosted SACAC legislative days. Because SACAC is a regional affiliate, advocacy days take place in specific states, allowing members to meet with their own legislators and impact students where they live.

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Report: Rural-Urban Gap in College Completion Grows


The rural-urban gap in college completion continues to grow, with fewer than one in five adults in rural communities holding a four-year degree, according to a new report from the United States Department of Agriculture.

“Between 2000 and 2015, the share of urban adults with at least a bachelor’s degree grew from 26 percent to 33 percent, while in rural areas the share grew from 15 percent to 19 percent,” report authors note. “Therefore, the urban-rural gap in the share of adults with bachelor’s degrees grew from 11 to 14 percentage points.”

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Imagine Grant Helps California Students Explore College Majors and Careers


It’s a scenario counselors know well: A student proudly announces they’re applying to college and plans to study physics.

So far so good. But then comes the kicker. What does the student hope to do with their degree? Cure cancer.

But as many counselors know, a degree in biology or in the health sciences offers a more direct route to cancer research, said Nicole Murphy, director of college access and financial aid strategies with PUC Schools, a California nonprofit charter school organization serving students in Northeast Los Angeles and the Northeast San Fernando Valley.

So this spring, Murphy launched a new initiative aimed at helping teens make connections between their interests and the college search process. Thirty industry experts and college department heads shared their insights with students during PUC’s inaugural College Majors & Careers Event in March.

The event, which served 520 high school juniors, was supported by a $1,000 grant from NACAC’s Imagine Fund.

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Rates of Anxiety Continue to Increase Among College Students


For the seventh straight year, anxiety was the top concern of students seeking mental health services on campus, according to a survey by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors.

Data show that 51 percent of college students who visited an on-campus counseling center in 2015-16 reported struggling with anxiety. The other most common concerns were depression (41 percent), relationship issues (34 percent), suicidal ideation (20.5 percent), self-injury (14 percent), and alcohol abuse (10 percent).

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Study: Having a Black Teacher Can Help Keep Black Kids in School


Low-income black students who have at least one black teacher in elementary school are more likely to graduate from high school and consider attending college, according to a new working paper published by the Institute of Labor Economics.

Being assigned to a classroom led by a black teacher in in third, fourth, or fifth grade reduced a student’s probability of dropping out of school by 29 percent, the study found.

And the positive effects were even greater among low-income black boys, whose likelihood of dropping out fell by 39 percent.

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YesU: New App Helps Families Navigate the Financial Aid Process

Courtesy Photo
Courtesy Photo

New York Times bestselling author Wes Moore launched BridgeEdU with one goal in mind: To increase college access and completion rates for low-income and first-generation students.

The program, which began in Baltimore in 2014, uses a high-tech, high-touch academic support model to help students transition during their first year of college. But as Moore and his staff quickly discovered, the complex process of applying for financial aid can create roadblocks for even the most motivated students.

Case in point? Although all members of the inaugural class of BridgeEdU scholars reported that they had applied for financial aid, the staff soon discovered that a whopping 75 percent hadn’t completed the FAFSA, and most of the students had not created accounts with Maryland’s state grant agency.

The experience inspired BridgeEdU staff to create YesU —  a mobile app released in 2016 that offers customized step-by-step support to students across the nation as they apply for financial aid.

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Reminder: Beware Potential FAFSA Scams


The Department of Education has always advised caution when working with third-parties on FAFSA completion, and is urging additional vigilance going forward given the unavailability of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).

Representatives from the IRS and the Office of Federal Student Aid suspended the service in March out of concern that it could be misused by identity thieves. The tool, which many students use when applying for federal aid, is not expected to be restored until fall 2017.

There are reports that some students and families have been scammed by individuals seeking to take advantage of this situation by charging families for help filing the FAFSA and/or stealing the families’ personal information for illicit use.

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