US Fails to Reach Obama-era Targets for College Degree Holders


In 2009, then-President Barack Obama announced a $12 billion initiative with a goal of returning the US to first in the world in the proportion of the population with degrees.

Ten year later, however, this goal seems even further out of reach.

The Hechinger Report recently looked at the goals and plans set by the American Graduation Initiative (AGI) and found that the US has fallen way behind. Continue reading US Fails to Reach Obama-era Targets for College Degree Holders

Advocates Head to Washington, DC for #NACACHillDay

Nearly 150 high school counselors, college admission professionals, community-based organization leaders, and other advocates will arrive in Washington, DC this weekend for NACAC’s annual Advocacy Meeting.

During this two-day event, attendees will learn more about student-to-counselor ratios in their states, the status of state and federal financial aid, and the economic impact of international and DACA students. The event will also feature talks from a Virginia state legislator and from a staff member of the House Committee on Education and Labor.

On Monday, attendees will head to Capitol Hill to meet with their elected officials and Congressional staff to advocate for NACAC’s policy priorities, including:

  • School Counseling. The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) and NACAC recommend a student-to-counselor ratio of 250:1. In the 2015-16 academic year, the national average ratio was 470:1. Furthermore, public school counselors report spending only 21 percent of their time on postsecondary admission counseling. #NACACHillDay attendees will advocate for lower ratios, increased funding, and improved professional development for school counselors.
  • Rigorous Curriculum. More than 80 percent of admission professionals say that a student’s strength of curriculum is of “considerable” or “moderate” importance in admission decisions. However, low-income students are less likely to have access to such curricula, and white students are nearly twice as likely as black students to be enrolled in at least one AP class. During their Congressional meetings, Advocacy Meeting attendees will advocate for all students to have equitable access to rigorous coursework in high school.
  • Need-Based Financial Aid. For many students and families, affording college is becoming increasingly more difficult. State and federal disinvestment in higher education funding has placed the burden of paying for college more squarely on the shoulders of students. #NACACHillDay attendees will encourage their elected officials to increase funding for federal need-based financial aid and to support efforts to simplify the FAFSA.
  • Student Protections. Some unscrupulous institutions of higher education – frequently, though not exclusively, those in the for-profit sector employ predatory recruitment practices that target students who are often most vulnerable to such deceit. Students enrolled at for-profit institutions account for just over 10 percent of all postsecondary enrollments, but over 40 percent of student loan defaults. Despite these metrics, for-profit institutions still benefit from receiving tax-payer funded financial aid. Advocacy Meeting attendees will urge their Members of Congress during their Hill meetings on Monday to protect students and taxpayers by supporting efforts to reign in these unscrupulous institutions.
  • Undocumented Students. Legal challenges to the September 2017 announced rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program continue to leave DACA-eligible and other undocumented individuals in limbo. Furthermore, undocumented students are ineligible to receive federal student aid – this lack of financial support often puts higher education out of reach for these students. #NACACHillDay attendees will encourage their elected officials to support legislation that would help make higher education accessible and affordable for these students.

The advocates in attendance will touch on these topics and other important issues, including international student mobility, school safety, and more. Be sure to follow @NACACWonk and #NACACHillDay for updates, and tune in to Facebook Live at 9:45 am ET for a live broadcast of the “Counselors and Financial Aid in Your State” panel, with NACAC research associate Pooja Patel and Stephanie Giesecke, the director of budget and appropriations at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

Julie Kirk is NACAC’s government relations manager. She can be reached at

#NACACreads: Hear More from Michelle Obama

Our #nacacreads chat with Reach Higher on Michelle Obama’s Becoming is coming up in just under a month.

But in case you can’t wait that long, you can hear from the former first lady in her own words.

Obama recently talked with a group of young women convened by her publisher about “imposter syndrome,” the importance of education, and many other topics highlighted in her book.

“I had to contend with ‘how do I get my education when I’m surrounded by people who may have different expectations of me?’ And those weren’t just the kids in the neighborhood. There were teachers I had to confront, teachers who underestimated me… When I sat down with my high school counselor — somebody who didn’t know me but was assigned to work with students to help them apply to college — and I told them my intention was to apply to Princeton. That counselor told me, ‘I don’t think you’re Princeton material,’” Obama said in the interview.

“The person whose job it was to help young people reach their dreams when it came to college saw me and whatever she saw in me told her that my dreams were too high…Even though I continued on, I applied, and you know obviously I got in, but I still remember that story. I remember that feeling of doubt. Just another adult placing a barrier on me that I didn’t even have for myself. So then, to enter into an elite school when your high school counselor has told you you’re not good enough, when all of society looks at kids of color or kids from poor communities or rural communities as not belonging, I, like many others, walked into that school with a stigma in my own head.”

Watch the full video and make plans to join us next month for this important conversation. We will be discussing the former first lady’s own journey to college, her experience as a first-generation student, the importance of diversity on campus, and the role college counselors play.

The #nacacreads Twitter chat will kick off promptly at 9 p.m. ET on March 19.

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

Creating College-going Culture in Rural Communities


The higher education community and businesses must work together to create a college-going culture in across rural America.

The Hechinger Report found that rural communities often face a mindset problem when it comes to higher education.

For generations, rural Americans were able to get good jobs with only a high school diploma. Now many of the jobs available require a more specialized skill set.

Continue reading Creating College-going Culture in Rural Communities

NACAC Members Offer Advice on Appealing a College Rejection


A rejection from your dream college does not always mark the end of the road with that school.

Appealing the college’s decision can be an option, though one that typically only results in a few overturned rejections each year.

Every school has its own procedure for an appeal process or clearly denotes that all admission decisions are final.

Though the odds are slim for a successful appeal, NACAC members Colleen Ganjian, Eric Nichols, and Parke Muth spoke to Teen Vogue and offered advice to students looking to give it one more shot.

Continue reading NACAC Members Offer Advice on Appealing a College Rejection

Report: College Completion Rates on the Rise


National college completion rates have increased for the third consecutive year, according to a new report.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center has been tracking this data for the past six years and the latest numbers are an all-time high. According to the report, the overall national six-year completion rate increased by 1.5 percentage points this year, reaching 58.3 percent.

Continue reading Report: College Completion Rates on the Rise

February Declared Gap Year Exploration Month


The Gap Year Association recently named February as “Gap Year Exploration Month,” an event designed to give attention to the options available to students who don’t want to jump right into college.

“Gap Year Exploration Month seeks to empower students to understand the vast array of opportunities available for gap time and research paths that are right for them,” the association wrote in a blog post.

“Behind this initiative is a passionate group of educators, program providers and others who want to help promote the benefits of gap time.”

Continue reading February Declared Gap Year Exploration Month

Access Lacking for Black Students at Public Institutions


Too many public colleges and universities fail to offer equitable access to black students, according to new findings from the USC Race and Equity Center.

The report, Black Students at Public Colleges and Universities: A 50-State Report Card, awards letter grades to public colleges and universities on four equity indicators for black undergraduates: representation equity, gender equity, completion equity, and black-student-to-black-faculty ratio.

Continue reading Access Lacking for Black Students at Public Institutions

Report: Doors to Selective Public Colleges Open Wider to White Students

A new report from the Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce finds that despite being funded by all taxpayers, selective public colleges do not serve all segments of their states’ populations.

“In reality, the doors of these colleges are open wider to white students than to their black and Latino peers,” the report, Our Separate & Unequal Public Colleges: How Public Colleges Reinforce White Racial Privilege and Marginalize Black and Latino Students, states.

Continue reading Report: Doors to Selective Public Colleges Open Wider to White Students

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