Category Archives: College Admission

Facing a New School Year with Less Stress During a Pandemic

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As a former high school counselor, I know the start of a new school year is exciting. The journey toward college and the future can, however, cause some apprehension under the best of circumstances. This year, with all the unknowns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, there is a heightened sense of anxiety among juniors and seniors especially. But if you and your family are healthy, there are things you can do to relieve some stress and still propel yourself toward your post-graduation goals.

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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and Second Chance Educational Alliance, Inc. (SCEA) created a three-principled framework to help transform these outdated prison programs into more equitable ones.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

Survey Examines International Student Enrollment Amid Pandemic

Despite recent concerns about new international student enrollment at US colleges and universities, nearly all universities (91 percent) that enrolled international students over the summer anticipate that those students will remain through fall 2020, according to survey findings in a new report from the Institute of International Education (IIE).

IIE surveyed 502 institutions about their summer and fall plans following COVID-19 disruptions. The survey informed the organization’s third report, which is part of its COVID-19 snapshot survey series.

According to the survey, 50 percent of the institutions reported fewer international applicants for fall 2020 than in previous years. Decreases in applications may be due to the economic impact of Covid-19, which is driving students—US and international—to consider other academic options or gap years. The decrease may also reflect students’ preferences to wait for economic stability before deciding to apply.

Among the institutions surveyed, 286 indicated that a total of 57,555 new international students had committed to their institutions; an additional 4,488 had already deferred to spring 2021 or beyond at the time the data was collected.

Due to the uncertainties around students’ ability to come to the US, however, institutions are offering several options. Most institutions are offering students the ability to defer their enrollment to spring 2021 (87 percent) or to enroll online through distance education (78 percent). Even though virtual enrollment will be the reality for many students this fall, the report warns of some long-term challenges when implementing virtual enrollment: decreases in enrollment (75 percent); issues accessing online courses (68 percent); and, an increase in withdrawals (48 percent).

While many international students are still considering enrolling in a US institution, their decision will depend on what options institutions will offer to students unable to travel to the US this fall.

Tiziana G. Marchante is NACAC’s project coordinator for educational content & policy. You can reach her at tmarchante@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

Working to Reign in Unscrupulous Colleges

NACAC members work every day to help students find colleges and universities that will be a good academic and financial fit. Unfortunately, some colleges take advantage of students, particularly students who are low-income, minority, first-generation, military, or veterans, among others from underserved and underrepresented groups.

To support these students, NACAC has developed a student protection agenda, which is meant to hold colleges accountable for predatory recruitment tactics and poor academic programs. These institutions heavily recruit students and charge exorbitant prices, often with students dropping out before obtaining a degree. In many cases, the student would have been better off not enrolling at all.

Recently, NACAC and several other education-related organizations sent a memo to Congress about the risks to students in post-COVID higher education. Many colleges aren’t even open yet, but there has been an increase in predatory recruitment among these colleges. We anticipate these tactics to get more egregious as students reimagine their academic futures and seek options that will allow them to safely pursue their degrees. We urged Congress to include student protection provisions outlined in the memo.

Our organizations also joined together to place an advertisement on thehill.com, a widely read political website, highlighting the memo and our call to action.  The ad will remain online through August 6.

Mike is the NACAC’s director for government relations. You can reach him at mrose@nacacnet.org.

The More Things Change…

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The French journalist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr once quipped, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” Loosely translated, the more things change, the more they remain the same. This year was filled with unprecedented change…how many times have we heard or used that expression? Ironically, for the world of college counseling in North America, it wasn’t a year of unprecedented change…it was a mere four months. In a mere four months, my school went from 100 percent residential to 100 percent online. Our numeric grading system went on hiatus and pass/fail became the norm. We witnessed placid juniors morph into angst-ridden young adults lacking self-efficacy and wanting the confines standardized tests provided. And yet, senioritis remained relentless. Some things never change.

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Sharing Resources and Growing Skills Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

When I left my office on March 13, I took what I needed in case I would be working from home for a few weeks. The prospect seemed possible and probable at that time. The list of counseling office responsibilities during the last months of the school year is long and filled with many gatherings. My school has 3,400 students in grades 9 through 12. Recognition ceremonies dominate that time of the year, as is the case in all high schools. Collection of information from our seniors and the preparation of our underclassmen for the next school year fill the days of our counselors. Once it was announced we would not return for the rest of the school year, the transition to online delivery of services was swift. Within the first few weeks, many services, including conducting special education annual review conferences, enrollment intakes, and scheduling meetings began occurring virtually. Checking in with our most vulnerable students occurred daily. Professional development continued via Zoom each week and regional conferences were also attended virtually. A plan was set up to recognize students in different ways, since in-person events had to be canceled.

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Students Turn to In-State Colleges Amid the Pandemic

Will incoming college freshmen opt to stay closer to home this fall due to the coronavirus pandemic?

Early enrollment data from a handful of US colleges suggests that may the case.

According to a recent article from the Associated Press (AP), commitments from in-state students have increased by 26 percent at the University of Texas at Arlington, 20 percent at The Ohio State University, and 15 percent at Michigan State University.

“Students want to be closer to home in case an outbreak again forces classes online,” the article notes. “Some are choosing nearby schools where they’re charged lower rates as state residents.”

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#NACACchat: Advising High School Juniors Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

How can counselors and others best assist high school juniors who are kicking off their college search amid the shutdown?

View a transcript of our most recent #NACACchat. Special guests included Jill Cook, assistant director with the American School Counselor Association; Lindsey Barclay, member services manager with the National College Attainment Network; Jennifer Davis, digital content marketing manager with The Common Application; and Tracy Jackson, school counseling supervisor with Loudoun County Public Schools.

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