Category Archives: College Readiness

Required Reading: More Colleges Assign Books Over Summer Break

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A growing number of colleges are using summer reading assignments to introduce incoming freshmen to the new ideas and topics they’ll encounter in their undergraduate courses, according to reports from The New York Times and Inside Higher Ed.

About 40 percent of college orientations include discussion of a common reading assignment,  the Times reported last month.

“The books are almost always tied to current events and often make strong statements on issues like immigration, race, and the perils of technology,” the article noted.

Two popular choices this summer include Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson’s memoir about prison reform, and Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ exploration of race in America, according to the Times.

J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy — an autobiographical look a rural poverty — is another popular read in a field dominated by titles that address racial or social issues.

Continue reading Required Reading: More Colleges Assign Books Over Summer Break

Achieving Balance: Tips to Help Students Navigate Their Freshman Year

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Editor’s note: A version of this post originally appeared on Admitted in September 2016. It’s being republished as part of NACAC’s Best of the Blog series.

To-do lists, reasonable goals, and regular exercise can help freshmen stay on track.

Those tips and more are included in a USA Today piece aimed at helping first-year students maintain their health and happiness.

“Achieving life balance is one of the largest challenges that college freshmen face,” the article notes. “After all, you must juggle a wide variety of activities — from your coursework to your social life to your extracurriculars — in addition to monitoring your mental and physical well-being.”

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Study: Implementation of Individualized Learning Plans Varies Across US High Schools

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About 72 percent of public high school students are required to have a graduation, career, or education plan, according to findings released this month by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). This figure supports data collected by NACAC as part of its 2015 study of individualized learning plans (ILPs), which indicated that all 50 states had in place at least one initiative for promoting college and career planning among high school students.

In fact, 29 states plus the District of Columbia mandate the development of ILPs in secondary schools, but the ways in which these plans are implemented vary greatly.

Continue reading Study: Implementation of Individualized Learning Plans Varies Across US High Schools

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.

Continue reading Imagine Grant Helps California Students Explore College Majors and Careers

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

Teens Produce Textbook Aimed at Teaching Racial Literacy

Courtesy of GoFundMe
Courtesy of GoFundMe

After discovering that their classmates did not have a real understanding of racial injustice, then-tenth graders Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi set out in 2014 to start a conversation and initiate change.

Today Guo and Vulchi are co-founders and co-presidents of Choose, an online community where people can share their stories of inequality, and the creators of the textbook Princeton Choose: The Classroom Index.

The textbook is now on its third edition and has been sold to about 500 schools and individuals across 15 states. Now seniors at Princeton High School in New Jersey, the girls are looking at their next steps for the textbook and the online community.

Their goal? Ensure K-12 students in schools nationwide “develop the historical and sociological toolkit for racial literacy” — a knowledge base they hope will ultimately help young people recognize racial justice and inspire them to create a better world.

Guo and Vulchi recently sat down with Teen Vogue to discuss the project and their goals for the future. Here’s an excerpt of their chat:

Continue reading Teens Produce Textbook Aimed at Teaching Racial Literacy

Parental Expectations That Are Too High Can Harm Students, Researchers Say

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Editor’s note:  A version of this post was first appeared on Admitted in 2015.

Parental expectations that are too high can end up undermining student success in the classroom, research shows.

The findings, published in 2015, are derived from a five-year study of more than 3,500 middle and high school students in Germany.

Researchers examined the results of annual math tests given to students. They also asked parents to list the grades they hoped their children would earn, as well as the grades they thought their children could reasonably obtain.

The study showed that while realistic expectations helped kids perform well, unrealistically high expectations harmed student achievement.

Continue reading Parental Expectations That Are Too High Can Harm Students, Researchers Say

Online Resources to Help Students Explore Careers

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What role should school counselors play in helping students explore careers?

An article published this month by the National Career Development Association asserts that teens are best served when given opportunities to participate in internships and explore earnings data while still in high school.

Continue reading Online Resources to Help Students Explore Careers

Researcher: US High Schools Must Invest in College Counselors

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Editor’s Note: A version of this post originally appeared on Admitted in December 2015.

US high schools must devote more time to college counseling if they want to “see the fruit of other investments,” according to one education researcher.

In a 2015 column, New America staffer Abigail Swisher makes the case that students need both rigorous curriculum and personalized guidance to achieve their postsecondary plans.

“If we want to recreate the American high school as a place where all students have the resources for success in college and career, we need to reinvent the role of counselors,” Swisher writes, citing data from NACAC and other education associations. “This could mean reducing the caseload or number of responsibilities each counselor has, or it might mean moving to an entirely different model of support.”

Continue reading Researcher: US High Schools Must Invest in College Counselors

#NACACreads: Gen Z Students Take New Approach to College Selection

generationzThe first wave of Generation Z students had just entered kindergarten on 9/11.

They lived through the Great Recession and came of age in an era defined by new technologies that changed the way we learn and connect with others.

And today, as students born between 1995 and 2010 begin to search for and select colleges, those formative experiences loom large, author Meghan Grace said Tuesday during a #NACACreads Twitter discussion of Generation Z Goes to College.

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