All posts by Ashley Dobson

Popularity of Happiness Course Shines a Spotlight on Student Mental Health

iStock

Yale University’s most popular course ever may be one of the best indicators of the mental health of incoming and current college students.

Psyc 157, “Psychology and the Good Life,” a twice-weekly lecture that tries to teach students how to live happier lives, enrolled nearly a quarter of the entire student body this semester. It is reportedly the most popular course in Yale’s 316-year-long history.

The course is led by psychology professor Laurie Santos who speculates that the college admission process and the high-pressure campus environment it fosters are behind the class’s popularity. In high school, she said, students had to deprioritize happiness to gain admission to school, leading them to adopt unhealthy and harmful life habits that culminate in “the mental health crises we’re seeing at places like Yale.”

“Students want to change, to be happier themselves, and to change the culture here on campus,” Santos told The New York Times. “With one in four students at Yale taking it, if we see good habits, things like students showing more gratitude, procrastinating less, increasing social connections, we’re actually seeding change in the school’s culture.”

This isn’t the first time a university has seen a huge interest in a so-called happiness class. In 2006, a similar course at Harvard enrolled more than 900 students.

“In reality, a lot of us are anxious, stressed, unhappy, numb,” said Alannah Maynez, a freshman in the Yale course told The New York Times. “The fact that a class like this has such large interest speaks to how tired students are of numbing their emotions — both positive and negative — so they can focus on their work, the next step, the next accomplishment.”

A recent survey by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors found that anxiety was the top concern of students seeking mental health services on campus.

About 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), according to the survey.

Ashley Dobson is NACAC’s communications manager for content and social media. You can reach her at adobson@nacacnet.org.

Charter School System Embraces New Approach to College Counseling

iStock

About 40 percent of undergraduates at four-year institutions do not complete a degree within six years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And the number is even higher for low-income students.

One charter school system wants to change that statistic for their alumni. They have retooled their college counseling program and instead of focusing solely on getting into college, they now address what it takes to graduate from college.

Continue reading Charter School System Embraces New Approach to College Counseling

Study: Students of Color Disproportionately Affected by Inequitable College Spending

iStock

Students of color are facing yet another barrier to college access and success.

A recent study from the Center for American Progress (CAP) found that two-year and four-year public colleges spend about $1,000 less per year on students of color than on white students. Collectively, this means public colleges are spending about $5 billion less per year on these students than on their white counterparts.

Continue reading Study: Students of Color Disproportionately Affected by Inequitable College Spending

Free Webinar Examines the College Soccer Recruiting Process

iStock

The student-athlete’s path to college is unique and requires hard work on and off the field.

This was the message of “Making Sense of College Soccer Recruiting,” a free webinar recently hosted by Soccer Chaplains United.

Jennifer “J.T.” Thomas, a college counselor at Maybeck High School in California and a frequent speaker on this topic at NACAC conferences, kicked off the webinar with a reality check.

“Not everyone gets a full ride…especially in soccer,” Thomas stressed. “If you’re after the money, you’re looking in the wrong direction.”

Continue reading Free Webinar Examines the College Soccer Recruiting Process

Community Colleges Report Serving More Middle-Class Students

iStock

As college costs continue to increase, community colleges are seeing a rise in the number of upper-middle class students enrolling to save money on their way to a four-year degree.

“This is about social norms,” Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of higher education policy and sociology at Temple University (PA), told The New York Times. “More middle-class parents are saying, I’m not succumbing to the idea that the only acceptable education is an expensive one.”

Continue reading Community Colleges Report Serving More Middle-Class Students

Join Us for a Facebook Q&A about Recruiter Life

College admission officers have a unique job, one that only your fellow admission colleagues can fully understand.

Tune in Friday at 8:45 a.m. ET to discuss life on the road, dissect the challenges recruiters face, and get advice from those in the know.

We’ll be broadcasting live from the Prince George’s County National College Fair with Bree Blades, an admissions officer from the University of California San Diego; Milan Thomas, an admissions advisor with Ohio University; and Ryan Smith, an international recruitment manager at Bath Spa University in the UK.

Continue reading Join Us for a Facebook Q&A about Recruiter Life

Join Us for a Facebook Live Q&A about College Signing Day

College Decision Day — the deadline at many institutions for students to accept an offer of admission and make a tuition deposit – is coming up on May 1 and we want to celebrate with you!

For the fifth year, the Reach Higher and Better Make Room initiatives are encouraging schools and communities to host College Signing Day events in recognition of students’ hard work and achievements.

Tune in Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. ET to find out more about the College Signing Day tradition, how you can secure grant money for your school’s celebration, and more.

Continue reading Join Us for a Facebook Live Q&A about College Signing Day

Arizona College Celebrates First-Gen Students

Courtesy of Arizona Western College

In an effort to combat stereotypes and poverty, one Arizona college has come up with a creative way to engage its largely first-generation student population.

Sixty-six percent of Arizona Western College’s nearly 8,000 undergrads identify as first-gen students. And according to recent data from the Community College Benchmark Project, 22 percent of Arizona Western’s students have annual family incomes of less than $20,000. The median family income for the school is $34,200.

Continue reading Arizona College Celebrates First-Gen Students

College Access: How the Space Race Opened Doors for Women

iStock

We all know the space race gave America access to the moon, but did you know it also helped pave the way for more women to go to college?

Women now make up more than 56 percent of students on campuses nationwide, according to the US Department of Education. But back in the 1960s, colleges often used “gender quotas” or simply excluded women entirely.

2018 marks 60 years since the passage of the National Defense Education Act (NDEA). In a recent episode of the Ways & Means podcast, host Emily Hanford explored how the National Defense Education Act inadvertently gave millions of American women access to college.

Continue reading College Access: How the Space Race Opened Doors for Women

Common Application Launches New App for Transfer Students

iStock

The Common Application has launched a new application for transfer students, helping meet a growing need for this student population.

More than one-third of all students switch schools sometime during their college career and more than two-thirds of US colleges view transfer students as considerably important in meeting enrollment goals, according to NACAC’s State of College Admission report.

The new Common App for transfer will allow transfer students to provide information about their qualifications for admission in a more targeted and tailored way. For example, it includes a prerequisite coursework feature, allowing applicants can select courses they completed that apply toward prerequisite requirements for particular academic programs.

Continue reading Common Application Launches New App for Transfer Students