Category Archives: Featured

Appealing Your Financial Aid Package


COVID-19 has set back the financial situations of many college students and created a tough learning environment for everyone. There’s been a lot of media attention highlighting that students can request more aid if their financial circumstances change.

So what’s the deal?
Yes, you can appeal your financial aid.

During this global crisis, many students already are facing significant economic hardships and challenges and need additional financial aid to stay in school. Let your college know how you’ve been affected by filing a “special circumstance appeal” to communicate a job loss or significant change in financial situation. You can also request support for dependent care, child care, or disability-related expenses.

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The Value of the Humanities

The humanities add meaning to the most profound moments of our lives, but they also bear burdens—notably, the myth that their study is inconsistent with a practical and prosperous career.

Experience shows us otherwise.

Keen students of the humanities can think critically and analytically. They express themselves persuasively in speech and writing (often in more than one language), empathize, mobilize diverse individuals and talents in teamwork and problem-solving, and boldly range outside the box as leaders in education, business, economics, law, and media.

For those students (and parents) still uncertain about the value of the humanities in higher education, here are a few points to consider.

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Working to Expand Graduate Coursework in College Admission Counseling


Why does NACAC’s College Admission Counseling Graduate Coursework SIG exist?  Simple:

  • School counselors are supposed to have three domains of expertise—social/emotional development, academic planning, and college/career planning
  • Surveys show that less than one third of all school counselors report receiving any training in college counseling as part of their graduate school experience.

Think about that for a minute as it relates to the other parts of a school counselor’s job. Would anyone want a counselor talking to their child about depression, stress, bullying, or peer pressure if that counselor had no training dedicated to those topics?  How confident would we be in the advice a counselor gives a student on course selection if the counselor had no idea what the school’s graduation requirements are?  Yet, year after year, the vast majority of counselor graduate programs send counselors out into schools with no formal, focused training on how to help students make strong college choices.

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Dear Future High School Counselor…

Editor’s Note: National School Counseling Week, sponsored by the American School Counselor Association, is always celebrated the first full week in February. We asked NACAC member Edward “Eddie” Pickett III to reflect on what the week — and the profession — mean to him. He chose to pen a letter to the profession’s future leaders.

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We Need To Talk About March

I know, I know — we’re fresh off winter break, most high school counselors are breathing easier with senior applications submitted, and many college admission officers are cozy on their couches reading applications. Why am I fast-forwarding to March?

For context, before serving as a high school college counselor I worked for almost two decades in college admission. On the college side, March meant wrapping up admission committees, making final decisions, and having a singular focus on our individual release date — hopefully in advance of our competitors. We then were engaged with yielding students until early summer. The end.

But on the secondary school side, March is experienced much differently. Regular decisions start rolling out with the new year, but eventually come full force every single day in March. And if you reside anywhere other than Eastern Standard Time, decisions will land at all hours. Students are raw nerves for an entire month, because tiny bombs are constantly going off around them. Four weeks of instructional time are consistently interrupted by emotional college news. For 31 straight days, college counselors are required to give out round-the-clock high-fives, Kleenex, and their best resilience advice, often all at once (self-awareness is hard for teenagers — one student may be weeping in our office while another is simultaneously crowing about their success). It’s a roller coaster. It’s exhausting. And it feels so unnecessary.

I’m not naïve. I understand that colleges have a class to yield — especially in our new ethical landscape — and they don’t want to feel beholden to any other institution’s timeline. Everyone has their own enrollment goals to meet, and this steady creep to release earlier and earlier is perceived as giving some kind of advantage. Maybe some students will deposit before hearing from a competitor! But my college advising elders tell me that it wasn’t always this way, and I can’t help but believe we can do better — both for our kids and for our colleagues.

Imagine a world in which at least systems released on the same day. As a California resident, for example, I wonder why the nine University of California campuses and the California State University system share an application and a deadline, but not a release day? What if there was one, uniform release day for the Claremont Colleges, the Five College Consortium, and/or the Colleges That Change Lives schools? The Ivy League institutions have managed to make a coordinated release time happen, so this is not without precedent.

I know that enrollment pressures are driving this behavior. But the more our profession runs like a business, the more the social/emotional wellness of our students takes a back seat. And I know that many colleges and universities find their counseling and wellness services stretched as increasing numbers of students seek out assistance with their mental health. So I would challenge my college-side colleagues to consider the long view: Even some minor changes to the decision release system might bring healthier, better educated, and more intact human beings to your campus in the fall. And then don’t we all win?


NACAC member Lauren Cook is dean of college and gap-year advising at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay (CA).

College Counselor Compiles Summer Reading List

Looking for summer reading suggestions for yourself or the students you serve?

NACAC member Brennan Barnard has released his annual compilation of book recommendations.

The full list — featuring titles suggested by college admission deans and counselors — appears on The Washington Post website. Some selections are related to education, while other titles are simply good reads.

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Dealing with Stress as a Teenager

Teenagers are stressed. And pressured. And anxious. And overwhelmed.

According to a recent study, 45 percent of teenagers in the US are stressed “all the time.” And though anxiety levels have risen in teens across all backgrounds, it has risen more among teens in affluent areas.

In an essay for Philly magazine, Tom McGrath explores the idea that “it’s the kids with the seemingly endless opportunities who are most anxious about their futures.”

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Spots Still Available for Students at Over 500 Colleges

The number of colleges still accepting applications for Fall 2019 continues to grow.

More than 500 institutions have openings, financial aid, and housing available to qualified freshmen and/or transfer students, according to NACAC’s College Openings Update.

When survey data was first posted on May 3, the list included just over 400 colleges and universities. Since that time, dozens of additional institutions have added their information. The update, which includes public and private schools, continues to be modified by colleges and universities.

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Report: Community College Transfer Students More Likely to Graduate


Despite stigmas that often surround community colleges, a new report from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation found that graduation rates of community college transfer students meet or exceed those of students who enroll at selective institutions as first-time freshman.

Community college transfer students also graduate at higher rates than students who transfer from other four-year colleges, according to the report.

More than 35,000 community college students transfer to selective colleges and universities each year and 75 percent of them graduate within six years. About 73 percent of students entering selective universities straight from high school graduate in that time frame, along with 61 percent of students who transfer from another four-year institution.

On average, community college transfer students earn their degree within two and a half years.

Read the full report and check out NACAC’s recent report on school counselors and community college options.

Ashley Dobson is NACAC’s communications manager for content and social media. You can reach her at

Survey: Girls Thrive in STEM, Even Without Tech-Savvy Parents


Parents don’t need to be tech-savvy to raise girls who are interested in STEM.

A recent poll found that parents’ proficiency with technology has only marginal effects on girls’ excitement about the subject.

“This survey shows that, contrary to popular belief, girls are interested in tech, and that they will seek out instruction regardless of their parents’ affinity with technology,” according to Tracey Welson-Rossman, founder and CEO of TechGirlz — a nonprofit organization that worked with Drexel University (PA) to conduct the survey. “It should reassure parents they can set their daughters on the path to a rewarding, empowering career in tech with support and encouragement, even if they do not understand the subject matter themselves.”

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