Study: Financial Aid Award Letters Need More Clarity, Transparency


Financial aid offers play a big role in the college decision for admitted students.

But these offers are often confusing and award letters vary wildly, leaving students to make one of their first major life decisions without access to clear information.

“I think anyone who’s worked with students is just like, ‘No, no, no, no, no. What a mess,’ ” Rachel Fishman, a researcher with New America, told NPR. “It’s really the Wild West when it comes to how these letters look.”

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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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Congress Needs to Put College Counseling First

As a high school college counselor, I should be enjoying a relaxing summer, but my work is far from over. My summer days are dedicated to making calls to every graduating senior to ensure deadlines are being met, deposits are being paid, and orientations are being attended. And that doesn’t end after the student starts college.

Today, graduates of KIPP high schools complete college at a rate of 45 percent, that is four times the national average of 11 percent for students from similar socioeconomic backgrounds. We accomplish this through detailed check-ins with our college students and maintaining a lower student-to-counselor ratio (roughly 100-to-1 versus 482-to-1 nationwide).

Imagine if every student had access to this level of intensive college counseling, then our college completion rates would improve. Today only one out of 10 students from low-income families earn a bachelor’s degree. The KIPP Foundation is urging Congress to prioritize college counseling nationwide and make it a priority in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. We recommend creating a federal grant program intended to increase the number of college counselors in public schools, adopt proven evidence-based counseling practices, and track results.

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Facebook Live: Hear from a NACAC Essay Contest Winner

Nasim Mohammadzadeh is ahead of the game when it comes to financing her college education.

The Kentucky teen’s entry in NACAC’s 2019 Video Essay Contest earned her a $1,000 scholarship — money that will soon come in handy as she works to pursue an undergraduate degree in neuroscience or biology.

“It really lifts a burden off of me as a whole because, you know, looking at that big number, that tuition cost, for any college…it’s overwhelming,” Mohammadzadeh, a rising senior at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington, said Tuesday during a Facebook Live broadcast.“…Having this scholarship gives me motivation that even if I get into some place that’s extremely expensive and out of my price range, this little scholarship is going to help me be able to achieve that dream and go to that university.”

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First-Generation Students Continue to Face Barriers Post-Graduation


Getting to and through college is an amazing feat for first-generation students. But, the challenges this student population faces do not stop post-graduation.

From parental connections to internships to the ability to buy a suit for interviews, the road from first-generation student to first-generation professional is a bumpy one.

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The Six Words About College That Disappoint Parents Most

Editor’s note: This essay was first published on Counselors’ Corner.

I had a chance to discuss the bigger world of college admission with some local counselors at a recent college breakfast, where admission officers from five colleges gave us brief updates on life at their campuses.  They opened up their presentation to questions at the end, and it’s my habit to ask them about advice for parents—if colleges could give one recommendation to the parents who have to watch their children apply to college, what would it be?

I’ve asked this question of many college admission officers over the years, and the response is always the same: Let the child drive the bus.

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NACAC Launches Podcast Series

NACAC today launched its College Admissions Decoded podcast series to help students, families, and the professionals who support them better understand the admission process.

The first episode, “College Admission After Operation Varsity Blues,” features insights from:

  • Stefanie Niles, NACAC president and vice president for enrollment and communications at Ohio Wesleyan University
  • Angel Pérez, vice president for enrollment and student success at Trinity College (CT)
  • Jim Rawlins, director of admissions/assistant vice president of enrollment management at the University of Oregon

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Gender Inclusivity Slowly Improving on Campuses


Colleges and universities are making strides in gender inclusivity, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

Ten years ago, the University of Vermont became the first school in the US to allow students to self-identify their pronouns and to include it in their student data.

Now, according to the Campus Pride Trans Policy Clearinghouse, 255 colleges enable students to use a chosen first name, instead of their legal name, on campus records and documents; 60 colleges enable students to change the gender on their campus records without evidence of medical intervention; and 19 colleges enable students to indicate the pronouns they use for themselves on course rosters.

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