NACAC Urges Flexibility in Wake of Coronavirus


NACAC is one of several education organizations encouraging their members to be mindful of the impacts of the Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) outbreak on students, families, staff, and colleagues.

In a statement issued yesterday, the association urged flexibility for students, families, and counselors in the affected areas and encouraged its members to take action where necessary.

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College Senior Offers Financial Advice to Incoming Freshmen


Editor’s note:  This post was originally published on Admitted in July 2019. It’s being republished as part of NACAC’s Best of the Blog series.

It’s no secret that a college education is expensive. But there are ways to keep costs as low as possible.

Laura Uzes, a senior at UCLA, shared her tried-and-true advice for keeping college costs down with Homeroom, the US Department of Education’s blog.

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After Brexit: What’s Changing and What Will Stay the Same


Editor’s Note: Elisabeth K. Marksteiner serves on International ACAC’s Advocacy and Outreach Committee, where her special interest is Brexit.

Fact: On Friday, Jan. 31, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union.

Fiction: The UK doesn’t want international students.

Fact: International enrollment numbers are at a record high. In fact, the recent introduction of a two-year post-graduation visa makes it an opportune time for students to consider a degree in the UK.

For the majority of students seeking degrees, nothing will change. Degrees remain largely three years in length and specialized. If your students are thinking “out-of-state,” you may also want to encourage them to think “out of country.” The UK will continue to offer high-quality, internationally recognized degrees.

Why then all the trepidation?

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The College Counselor Who Left His Own Children Alone


Editor’s note:  This post was originally published on Admitted in March 2019. It’s being republished as part of NACAC’s Best of the Blog series.

When it comes to dealing with the key moments of my daughter’s life, I’ve always had my hands full. The first one came when she was not even two years old. She decided it was time to climb up on the playscape all by herself, just like she’d seen her older brother do. It didn’t matter that her legs were about half as long, and the diaper she was wearing significantly limited her mobility. It was time, and that was that.

As she eyed the situation, I was about 20 feet away, clearing some brush, and holding a chainsaw, of all things. There was no way I could drop the chainsaw without her noticing it, and not even the slowest gait towards her would do anything but convince her I didn’t think this was a good idea. All I could do was stand there and watch, poised on the balls of my feet to spring the 20 feet in the event I needed to catch her. She didn’t exactly look like Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief, but she made it up, in her own way, safe and sound.

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Transgender and Undocumented Students in Illinois Can Now Access State Aid


Undocumented students and some transgender students previously shut out of Illinois’ state financial aid system have been granted access.

New legislation that went into effect earlier this month allows affected students to secure money for college through the new Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid.

Several dozen people have already taken advantage of the option, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

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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).

New Podcast Episode Now Available

The latest episode of College Admissions Decoded is now available! Listen on NACAC’s website or Apple Podcasts.

“Demystifying the College Transfer Process: What Students and Families Need to Know” offers tips to potential transfer students and explores ways to make the transfer process between community colleges and four-year schools more seamless.

Tune in and share with the students and families you serve!

Learn more about College Admissions Decoded.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at

Join the Latino/Hispanic SIG for a Book Discussion

Join NACAC’s Latino/Hispanic Special Interest Group tomorrow — Jan. 22 — for a book discussion of Music to My Years: A Mixtape-Memoir of Growing Up and Standing Up.

Author and comedian Cristela Alonzo will join the virtual chat, scheduled to kick off at 3 p.m. PT/6 p.m. ET.

In her memoir, Alonzo — who created and starred in the ABC sitcom Cristela — shares personal stories about growing up as a first-generation Mexican American in Texas. She also writes about the challenges she’s faced professionally as a woman of color.

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