Category Archives: College Admission

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Racism and College Admission

By: Lawrence Q. Alexander II

Nov. 1…For some, it’s just another day, but for those of us in college admission, it marks the anniversary of our “first date”—the day when Early Decision and Early Action applications have typically been due and that our work with seniors coalesces.

We recall preaching to them during the spring of their junior year about the importance of starting early and working on their college applications throughout the summer. We replay the melodious songs we sang to our faculty and colleagues about the impact of their letters of recommendation. We also experience pardonable pride as we lead our school community to a date on the calendar that at one time seemed so very far away. We think about the students and families we’ve counseled, the admission colleagues we’ve conversed with, and the floorboards we’ve confessed our frustrations to. And historically, we feel a range of emotions, from excitement to fear to anxiety to relief to sheer exhaustion.

Yet this year, with a global pandemic and the demand for racial equity and justice looming over our anniversary celebration, many of my colleagues and I experienced another emotion on Nov. 1—rage. And as COVID-19 and Racism 2020 tear through our world, they also pervade our profession, prompting a cascading list of uncomfortable yet unavoidable questions.

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New NACAC Report Explores Impact of COVID-19 on Enrollment

Editor’s note: A version of this article originally appeared on the Salesforce.org blog. Visit NACAC’s newsroom to learn more about the report referenced below.

Salesforce.org recently partnered with NACAC on a survey of 1,194 four-year higher education institutions to glean insight into how institutions are using data to support their long-term goals. The full report offers insight into many critical aspects of recruiting and admission.

Most significantly — and timely — the report explores how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted recruiting, admission, and enrollment for the Fall 2021 class and those following it.

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Enrollment Management: Lessons on Leadership

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By: Shelley Arakawa, Amy Crutchfield, Robin Mamlet, and Lisa Meyer

What leader doesn’t feel unsure of their abilities during 2020? There certainly is no historic data to draw on when making decisions, and every decision seems crucial to the health of one’s team and the institution.

To help admission professionals navigate these unprecedented times, WittKieffer, a global search firm and NACAC member, was honored to partner with some of the country’s leading enrollment and higher education experts through our Summer Speaker Series, a course of four webinars focused on enrollment leadership.

One takeaway? Strong leadership matters, now more than ever.

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Facing a New School Year with Less Stress During a Pandemic

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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