Category Archives: Access

Perspective: The Rural Student Experience


Recruitment of rural and low-income students is often a goal of universities. But some schools don’t offer the support system to allow these students to succeed once they arrive on campus.

That was the case for writer Alison Stine.

Stine recently authored an essay recounting her experience as a student from a rural background at a private college.

“I wasn’t the first person in my family to go to college — I was the second generation, after my parents — and on teachers’ and guidance counselors’ advice, I had applied to several schools, including state universities,” she wrote. “But the private colleges were the ones that seemed to really want someone like me. They courted me. They offered me money, and I couldn’t say no to that. I couldn’t afford to.”

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Explore Ways to Center Equity and Justice in Admission Work


Equity and justice are important in all aspects of life, but absolutely vital in college admission.

NACAC members Ethan Sawyer, The College Essay Guy, and Marie Bigham, the founder of the ACCEPT: Admissions Community Cultivating Equity and Peace Today Facebook group, recently recorded a podcast episode on the ways school counselors and college admission professionals can work toward these goals.

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Creating College-going Culture in Rural Communities


The higher education community and businesses must work together to create a college-going culture in across rural America.

The Hechinger Report found that rural communities often face a mindset problem when it comes to higher education.

For generations, rural Americans were able to get good jobs with only a high school diploma. Now many of the jobs available require a more specialized skill set.

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Student-to-Student Advice for People of Marginalized Backgrounds

There is no better advice that the advice from people who’ve been there.

Teen Vogue recently compiled a list of advice from students of marginalized backgrounds to other students in similar situations.

Their list of student advice discusses topics ranging from the need for a support system to practical advice on saving money on textbooks.

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Access Lacking for Black Students at Public Institutions


Too many public colleges and universities fail to offer equitable access to black students, according to new findings from the USC Race and Equity Center.

The report, Black Students at Public Colleges and Universities: A 50-State Report Card, awards letter grades to public colleges and universities on four equity indicators for black undergraduates: representation equity, gender equity, completion equity, and black-student-to-black-faculty ratio.

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Report: Doors to Selective Public Colleges Open Wider to White Students

A new report from the Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce finds that despite being funded by all taxpayers, selective public colleges do not serve all segments of their states’ populations.

“In reality, the doors of these colleges are open wider to white students than to their black and Latino peers,” the report, Our Separate & Unequal Public Colleges: How Public Colleges Reinforce White Racial Privilege and Marginalize Black and Latino Students, states.

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Celebrating Black Lives Matter at School Week and National School Counseling Week


This week is both National School Counseling Week and Black Lives Matter at School Week and the two go hand-in-hand.

NACAC believes school counselors have an important and often under-acknowledged role to play in moving toward the goal of equity in education.

One of NACAC’s core values is that our institutional and individual members strive to eliminate from the education system bias based on race, ethnicity, creed, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, political affiliation, national origin, or disability. We view this as fundamental to our responsibility as educators.

However, the stark reality is that inequities do exist, and are often strongly associated with race and ethnicity.

For example:

High student-to-counselor ratios
School counselors in schools serving large numbers of racial and ethnic minority students face ratios well above the current national ratio of 464:1. According to the Education Trust, a high school counselor who serves predominantly students of color has to serve 34 more students every year than a school counselor who serves fewer students of color, and 27 states are shortchanging either their students of color, students from low-income families, or both. And since black students are more likely than their white peers to cite a school counselor’s involvement in changing their college-going perceptions, such shortages present steep barriers to students of color.

Inequitable access to education resources and college preparatory coursework
Evidence of racial gaps in access to school resources is plentiful. Persistent racial and ethnic gaps exist in dual enrollment and college preparatory coursework (AP and IB), which is the foundation for NACAC’s policy priority in support of equitable funding for schools to ensure that all students have access to coursework that will prepare them for education beyond high school.

Implicit bias and cultural fluency
There is a substantial and growing body of research documenting individual implicit bias across all industries and facets of American life. College admission counseling professionals, including school counselors, have identified implicit bias and other, more overt, forms of bias as a critical obstacle to serving all students well. As such, NACAC recently created a resource for practitioners wishing to learn more about cultural fluency and bias, and urges school leaders and policymakers to consider the effects of bias on the educational system.

Interaction with a school counselor has statistically significant, positive effects on college-going behavior and ensuring equitable access to school counseling and other critical resources—particularly for racial/ethnic minority students—is an immediate concern to be addressed by policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels.

David Hawkins is NACAC’s executive director for educational content and policy. You can reach him at

Department of Education Simplifies FAFSA Verification Process


The Department of Education recently announced changes to FAFSA verification aimed to help make the process less burdensome.

In lieu of IRS tax return transcripts and verification of non-filing forms, the guidance allows institutions to accept copies of signed income tax returns and written statements of non-filing from students who are selected for FAFSA verification. The changes are effective immediately and apply to both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 cycles.

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Tennessee Weighs Next Steps in College Completion Campaign


Tennessee is considered a national leader when it comes to college access.

The Tennessee Promise program offers high school grads two years of free community college. Meanwhile, Tennessee Reconnect provides tuition-free avenues for adults who want to return to school or are just starting their college journey.

Yet despite the wide-array of offerings, degree attainment across the state is uneven. A new analysis of public data published by The Tennessean offers insight into some of the factors impeding wider progress.

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#NACACreads: Read an Excerpt from ‘Breakaway Learners’

The students we serve are changing.

Are you?

Karen Gross, who spent eight years as president of Southern Vermont College, poses that question in Breakaway Learners — a book we’ll discuss during our next #NACACreads chat.

“Many of today’s students are the first in their families to attend college, let alone graduate; many are immigrants; many are low income,” writes Gross, who will join us for an hour-long Twitter discussion on Dec. 12. “Many have experienced trauma or toxic stress.”

Continue reading #NACACreads: Read an Excerpt from ‘Breakaway Learners’