All posts by Mary Stegmeir

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

New Flexibilities for FAFSA Filers Affected by DRT Outage

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Institutions now have more options when it comes to verifying FAFSA information.

Last week, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that colleges and universities would be granted new flexibilities due to the extended outage of the IRS’s Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).

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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.”

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

Report: Rural-Urban Gap in College Completion Grows

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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

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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

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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).

Continue reading Rates of Anxiety Continue to Increase Among College Students

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

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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.

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

Join NACAC for a Facebook Live Q&A

fblivetwitpic-002Former First Lady Michelle Obama made college access a priority during her time in the White House.

Tune in April 27 at 12:30 p.m. ET to discover how the Reach Higher and Better Make Room initiatives will continue her work, and get a sneak peek into what’s planned for this year’s College Signing Day.

We’ll be broadcasting from NACAC headquarters via Facebook Live with special guest Eric Waldo. Waldo, executive director of Reach Higher, is now part of Civic Nation — a nonprofit, non-partisan group that uses organizing, engagement, and public awareness to address some of the nation’s most pressing issues, including initiatives launched by the Obama White House.

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Student View: Changes Needed to Support College Applicants with Disabilities

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Colleges must do more to provide and improve accommodations for students with disabilities, grad student Valerie Piro wrote in a recent essay published by Inside Higher Ed.

Piro, who uses a wheelchair and is currently pursuing a master’s degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, highlighted the challenges she faced when touring colleges as a high school student.

At one university, she had to use a makeshift wooden ramp to navigate a short flight of stairs. At another school, her prospective residence hall was located at the bottom of a steep hill and the college’s dorm rooms were much too small to accommodate her physical therapy equipment.

“Physical space and a well-functioning infrastructure on a campus cannot be overlooked, especially when one has a disability,” wrote Piro, who is paralyzed from the chest down. “What better way to tell a wheelchair user that they don’t belong at a college or university than by strewing the campus with stairs, broken help buttons, and pitiful excuses for ramps?”

Continue reading Student View: Changes Needed to Support College Applicants with Disabilities

‘Math Identity’ Prepares Students for STEM Majors

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Looking for ways to encourage more of your students to pursue majors in science, technology, engineering, or math?

Efforts need to go beyond college-prep coursework, according to a paper published in 2015.

Students who succeed in developing an identity as a “math person” are more likely than their peers to go on to study STEM subjects in college, data show.

Continue reading ‘Math Identity’ Prepares Students for STEM Majors