Spring is a season of mixed emotions for school counselors. As students come in to share the exciting news of college acceptances and generous scholarships, an equal number of families come in with questions that are harder to answer:
“What more were they looking for?”
“Don’t they know this isn’t enough to cover my needs?”
“Why does college cost so much?”
It turns out this last question has a pretty clear answer—it’s complicated, but it’s clear.
“It doesn’t have to cost this much, if you start at a community college and transfer.”
Monday is College Decision Day — the deadline at many institutions for students to accept an offer of admission and make a tuition deposit.
And on Friday, schools and communities across the country will once again host College Signing Day events. The tradition was started in 2014 by former First Lady Michelle Obama and is being spearheaded this year by Civic Nation’s Better Make Room initiative.
“Some education past high school has to be the goal for every young person,” Eric Waldo, of Civic Nation, said Thursday during a Facebook Live Q&A at NACAC headquarters. “That was true when we were in the White House. That’s true now that we’re not in the White House.”
Ten cities. Thirteen days. From London to Shanghai to meet with newly admitted students. It’s my version of TheAmazing Race, but without the $1 million at the finish line.
The first question I’m asked when discussing my itinerary is, “Are you nuts?!” The answer, from my perspective anyway, is, “No, I love doing it and I’ve found two weeks to be the perfect trip length.”
The second question is either, “Wow, how are people feeling about our country?” or “Do international students still want to come to university in the US?” Like any good admission officer, my answer is, “It depends.”
It depends on the country.
China is a vital market for many universities, and the political climate didn’t appear to be too much of a concern in Beijing and Shanghai. There, families were much more concerned about the “usual” topics—safety, academics, and post-graduation opportunities. I was surprised by the number of families more concerned about the legalization of marijuana in California than the political situation! Having said that, I had large-group and one-on-one conversations about the international environment in every other city on the trip—London, Dubai, Mumbai, Delhi, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, and Seoul. Families are legitimately concerned about whether their child will even get a visa, how welcomed international students will be upon arrival, and whether they will be targets for bullying and/or racial discrimination on campus or in the surrounding area. Not too surprisingly, this was a HUGE topic in India, the United Arab Emirates, and Singapore, all countries with a large Indian population. And all countries that add to our international diversity on campus.
After last month’s successful Advocacy Day in Washington, DC, advocacy efforts within many NACAC affiliates are on the rise.
Over the past several months, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee have hosted SACAC legislative days. Because SACAC is a regional affiliate, advocacy days take place in specific states, allowing members to meet with their own legislators and impact students where they live.
The rural-urban gap in college completion continues to grow, with fewer than one in five adults in rural communities holding a four-year degree, according to a new report from the United States Department of Agriculture.
“Between 2000 and 2015, the share of urban adults with at least a bachelor’s degree grew from 26 percent to 33 percent, while in rural areas the share grew from 15 percent to 19 percent,” report authors note. “Therefore, the urban-rural gap in the share of adults with bachelor’s degrees grew from 11 to 14 percentage points.”
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.
For the seventh straight year, anxiety was the top concern of students seeking mental health services on campus, according to a survey by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors.
Data show that 51 percent of college students who visited an on-campus counseling center in 2015-16 reported struggling with anxiety. The other most common concerns were depression (41 percent), relationship issues (34 percent), suicidal ideation (20.5 percent), self-injury (14 percent), and alcohol abuse (10 percent).