Category Archives: Access

Students Discuss Inclusion and Diversity in Higher Ed

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By: Amber M. Briggs with Maria Guadalupe Romo-González and Will Walker

Author’s Note: The student perspectives shared below are representative of their unique experiences in higher education. We acknowledge there may be experiences that are missing from this conversation and encourage higher education leaders to continually seek out their own students’ perspectives and thoughtfully engage them in their decision-making process.

This summer, the Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA) had planned to bring a group of students to NACAC’s Guiding the Way to Inclusion conference to discuss their experiences in higher education and share their thoughts on what higher ed professionals can do to foster inclusion and diversity.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus crisis prompted NACAC to cancel the in-person event and instead move the conference online,

Although our panel was unable to participate in the virtual event, we know the topics of inclusion and diversity are more important than ever given the racial injustices and challenges of COVID-19 that students are facing. And with the help of two LEDA Scholars, we hope to begin that conversation on NACAC’s Admitted blog.

Continue reading Students Discuss Inclusion and Diversity in Higher Ed

#NACAC20: Pandemic Spurs Changes in Higher Ed

In times of great crisis, America has depended on higher education to help bring stability to the nation. The Morrill Act of 1862, which established land grant colleges, was enacted during the Civil War. Decades later, Congress passed the G.I. Bill to assist World War II servicemen.

A panel of US college presidents told attendees at this week’s 2020 NACAC Virtual Conference that universities can play a similar role amid the coronavirus crisis. But colleges must adapt, and state and federal dollars are necessary to reach all those in need of support.

“In every moment of great strife and challenge in our nation…America leaned back into educating its citizens and used higher education as a force for good and a force for change,” said Daniel G. Lugo, president of Queens University of Charlotte (NC). “It is important that we not cede ground on what is right about us because, if we do that, we’ll never ever, ever get state governments or the federal government to think of us as a place to make more equitable investments.”

“…We do need to improve, we do need to be more self-conscious and aware,” Lugo added during the discussion, which was moderated by education journalist and author Jeff Selingo. “But too often we cede ground on how good we actually are.”

Continue reading #NACAC20: Pandemic Spurs Changes in Higher Ed

#NACAC20: Current Crises Demand New Mindset for Colleges

The work of colleges and universities has never been more urgent, education leader Michael Sorrell told attendees Thursday at the 2020 NACAC Virtual Conference.

In these unprecedented times, higher education institutions have a duty to both students and democratic society, said Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College (TX). History will judge the ways in which US colleges respond to the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s continued shameful treatment of Black people, and the actions of the current presidential administration, Sorrell said at the conference’s closing session.

He urged attendees to look at what their institution could do differently in this time crisis, which has hit minorities particularly hard.

“I am an advocate of higher education, but I’m also critical of it,” said Sorrell. “I don’t think we’ve done enough, and I don’t think we are who we need to be. If we are honest, we produced the people who produced this moment. We need to fix it.”

Continue reading #NACAC20: Current Crises Demand New Mindset for Colleges

#NACAC20: Ibram X. Kendi Urges Examination of Admission Policies and Practices

Funding formulas, testing policies, and recruitment and retention strategies are just some of the areas that must be addressed by schools, colleges, and communities seeking equity and access for all students, celebrated antiracist scholar Ibram X. Kendi told attendees Tuesday at the 2020 NACAC Virtual Conference.

Racism is embedded throughout American society, he said. Dismantling such systemic injustice will require persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination.

“You can’t declare one day: I am antiracist,” said Kendi, bestselling author of How to be an Antiracist and other books examining race in America. “But you can say, I’m striving to be. You can say, I’m going to go on that journey.”

Continue reading #NACAC20: Ibram X. Kendi Urges Examination of Admission Policies and Practices

#NACAC20: A Students-First Approach to Higher Ed

If US higher education is to survive, it must refocus its efforts and prioritize students, NACAC CEO Angel B. Pérez said Tuesday in remarks at the 2020 NACAC Virtual Conference.

Like many sectors of the US economy, the admission profession has felt the effects of the coronavirus crisis on its institutional budgets, Pérez noted. But those concerns are secondary when compared to the larger crisis looming for higher ed, he said.

“While we all understandably worry about our schools and our institutions, we have to remember that without students, nothing else in the educational endeavor matters,” Pérez said in his first keynote address as the association’s chief executive officer. “…As we move away from enforcing a code of ethics, NACAC will act publicly and with determination when policy or practice threatens to cause harm to or perpetuate inequities among students.”

Continue reading #NACAC20: A Students-First Approach to Higher Ed

#NACACchat: Transitioning to College with a Disability

How can college admission professionals help students who have a disability transition to college? How can students advocate for themselves to access the resources they need?

View a transcript of our most recent #NACACchat. Special guests included Jill Corbin, director of college and transition counseling at Denver Academy and NACAC Learning Differences Special Interest Group leader; Annie Tulkin, founder and director of Accessible College, where she provides college transition support for students with physical disabilities and health conditions nationally; and Elizabeth C. Hamblet, college learning disabilities specialist at LDadvisory, which provides advice on college topics for students with learning disabilities or ADHD.

Continue reading #NACACchat: Transitioning to College with a Disability

#NACACchat: Join Tomorrow’s Twitter Discussion

How can college admission professionals help students who have a disability transition to college? How can students advocate for themselves to access the resources they need?

Join NACAC’s Learning Differences Special Interest Group for a #NACACchat Twitter discussion on best practices for helping students transition to college with a disability, including how COVID-19 can impact this process.

The chat will take place Wednesday, Sept. 2 at 1 p.m. ET and will be led by @NACAC and members of the Learning Differences SIG. Continue reading #NACACchat: Join Tomorrow’s Twitter Discussion

A Suggested Framework for Prison Higher Education Reform

An oft-forgotten yet important subsection of college and university programs are those that take place in prison. While these programs provide prisoners with an otherwise unachievable education, many have problems that prevent prisoners from accessing equitable higher education. These prison programs often are considered selective, with applicants having to prove their worth through standardized tests, essays, and even proof of extracurricular activities. These requirements can be difficult for the average student to meet, let alone an incarcerated student. Recognizing these problems, Erin Corbett and Second Chance Educational Alliance, Inc. (SCEA) created a three-principled framework to help transform these outdated prison programs into more equitable ones.

The Framework

  • Reconceptualize an admission process that accounts for incarcerated student access to time, information, and opportunity
    • Broaden partnerships with community-based organizations to ensure community representation in the admission and enrollment process
    • Implement an open and rolling admission timeline
    • Create an application process that centers on portfolio assessments rather than GPA or standardized test scores
      • Imprisoned students are often enrolled in life skills programs that provide certifications upon completion. These certificates can be used in place of more traditional guideposts of student success.
    • Shift assessment and program models to leverage a competency mastery model
      • Root curricula and credentials in competency mastery rather than credit hours
        • Project based learning is an excellent way for students to connect with their studies and demonstrate mastery
      • Implement and strengthen avenues to award credit for prior learning
        • Dismantle college-in-prison programs that do not accept credits for prior learning
        • Award credit though Prior Learning Assessments (PLA)
          • Using PLAs in prisons have shortened the average degree completion time and resulted in a 43 percent graduation rate compared to 15 percent in programs not using PLAs
        • PLA Considerations:
          • Waive prerequisites that would normally increase time-to-degree completion
          • Use PLA credits to meet general education and program/major requirements
          • Fund programs that award credit for prior learning

Authors of the framework hope that by better serving minority populations in prison, previous practices that have historically only benefited the privileged will be upended.

 

NACAC Research Associate Cameron Hair welcomes comments and story ideas at chair@nacacnet.org

Problems Associated with Test Optional Policies During a Pandemic

The Background

Test-optional policies have become popular among institutions of higher education in recent years, whether due to holistic admission policies or as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. While many celebrate the increase of test-optional admission policies as a win for equitable admission, authors Dominique J. Baker and Akil Bello highlight three major problems associated with the quick adoption of these policies. The authors also break down recommendations for both policymakers and practitioners that may help blunt the negative impacts they believe test-optional policies have on students.

Problems with Test-Optional Policies

The first problem highlighted by Baker and Bello involves requiring standardized testing to graduate high school. Even though many colleges and universities are going test-optional, 25 states require a standardized test to receive a high school diploma. However, due to the rise in test-optional policies as a result of the pandemic, it has become increasingly difficult for students in these states to schedule these exams.

The second problem associated with test-optional policies in the age of coronavirus involves the swiftness with which decisions to go test-optional were made. These decisions are being made at faster speeds than ever before, which does not allow significant time for colleges and universities to prepare for the change.

The last problem with these policies involves the new reliance on student’s prior academic performance. As academic grades have been completely upended due to coronavirus, using these grades as predictors of college success no longer is viable.

Recommendations for Practitioners

  • Ensure that initial screening policies do not make negative assumptions about those who do not submit tests compared to those who do submit.
    • Research suggests that taking standardized tests multiple times correlates with an increase in scores. Minority students take standardized tests at lesser rates than white students, indicating that at least some of the score differential between white and minority students could be caused by familiarity with the standardized test.
  • Address the relationship between test scores and merit aid
    • The best approach would be to adopt a test blind policy when awarding scholarships.
  • Ensure that all policies involving test score use is transparent and inclusive.

Recommendations for Policymakers

  • Certain states need to revisit the standardized test requirement for high school graduation. With coronavirus still rampant, it is unlikely that students will be able to meet this requirement.
  • State Boards of Education should consider a systematic way to communicate grade changes from the most recent academic term.
    • Underfunded schools likely do not currently have this capacity.
    • States should create a single database of grading changes that occurred during the Spring 2020 semester that can be made available to admission professionals.
  • State Boards of Education should create better communication practices with colleges about the impact coronavirus has on different communities.
    • This context allows admission professionals to access contextual information while evaluating students.
  • State Boards of Education should provide coronavirus-related sickness and death rate information linked to the nearest high school or college. This would increase time for review as well as provide insight into the struggles students face during the pandemic.

NACAC Research Associate Cameron Hair welcomes comments and story ideas at chair@nacacnet.org

Equity Concerns Rise as FAFSA Filings and Enrollment Deposits Drop

The Background

Historically, Black and Latinx students have been at significant educational disadvantages. These inequities have crossed into many facets of higher education, from access to quality K-12 education to enrollment rates at selective institutions. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has deepened these inequities, as the virus has disproportionately affected low-income Black and Latinx students’ ability to receive a quality education.

The Study

Researchers at EAB wanted to determine if these inequities extended to enrollment deposits and financial aid at colleges and universities. To do so, they analyzed enrollment data and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) deposit information of 500,000 students admitted to four-year colleges across the United States for the Fall 2020 semester.

The Findings

Results of the study indicate a widening equity gap. According to deposit submission rates, low-income and minority students are not submitting deposits as much as in previous years. While deposits are down across all low- and middle-income households, they are lowest among Pell-eligible households. When broken down by race and ethnicity, Black students were significantly more likely not to submit deposits when compared to other ethnic groups.

Also, of significant concern is the percentage of low-income students who have not filed a FAFSA form even though they qualify for financial aid. Eighteen percent of Black students and 15 percent of Latinx students have not yet filed their FAFSA form for the Fall 2020 year, rates much higher than white and Asian students. While minority students usually file at lesser rates than white students, the heightened rates for the Fall 2020 semester indicate that the coronavirus pandemic may be disproportionally affecting the minority student population.

The Implications

As a result of the findings, EAB encourages colleges and universities to act swiftly to ebb the impact of coronavirus on low-income and minority students. They suggest that the first step involves identifying and contacting students who have made a deposit, but have yet to complete and submit their FAFSA. Colleges can then provide FAFSA completion support to help students submit their financial aid information. EAB urges colleges to be consistent, persistent, and clear in their messaging to relate the significance of filing these important documents.

Read the full report: https://eab.com/insights/expert-insight/enrollment/drop-college-enrollment-fafsa-filing-raises-equity-concerns/?utm_source=Deposits&utm_medium=PR

Read more about FAFSA filings and enrollment declines.

NACAC Research Associate Cameron Hair welcomes comments and story ideas at chair@nacacnet.org