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NACACNet > Collaboration & Networking > Blogs and Communities > Admitted Blog
August 24
#NACACreads Author: Career Exploration Crucial to Post-College Success

ThereIsLifeAfterCollege.jpgGood grades are no longer enough to secure post-graduation employment for a growing number of young Americans. 

And as the job market evolves, the country’s high schools and colleges must adapt to ensure students are prepared to navigate the increasingly complex world of work, according to participants in Tuesday’s #NACACreads discussion. 

The Twitter chat centered on findings included in There Is Life After College, Jeffrey Selingo’s latest book. Selingo —formerly an editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education and a featured speaker at NACAC’s upcoming national conference —urged participants to rethink the way senior year of high school and freshman year of college are structured.  

“Students need more transition time to explore careers & what jobs are really like,” Selingo tweeted during the chat. 

Such exploration is especially important for low-income students, Selingo noted. 

“In the end, students pick careers that are familiar to them,” he tweeted. “That worries me for 1st gen students, in particular.”

Participation in postsecondary education is at an all-time high. But national data cited in Selingo’s book show that half of college graduates in their 20s are underemployed.

Counselors and admission professionals from across the nation addressed the importance internships play in post-graduate outcomes during Tuesday’s #NACACreads chat. In a competitive job market, employers are looking for candidates who have already learned from failures or hardships on the job.  

“Being accountable to somebody higher up the ladder and learning from those who are more experienced” are invaluable experiences for young people, noted Vicki Bellamy, an Independent Educational Consultant from Virginia. 

Internships can also help students discover when career paths aren’t a good fit — saving precious time and money, said Peter Konwerski, vice provost and dean of student affairs at George Washington University (DC).

Work experience can help “rule out fields families may want students to study,” he tweeted. “Law/Med school is a steep price for unknown.”

Read a full transcript of the chat and learn more about #NACACreads

To comment on this post, sign into the NACAC website (see top left corner of this page). Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

August 23
New from NACAC: Video Explains Early FAFSA to Students, Families

PPY_video_475.jpgHelp spread the word about Early FAFSA.

A new video from NACAC seeks to help students and families prepare for changes to the financial aid application process. 

The animated film lasts just over a minute and hits on three key points:

• The FAFSA can help students pay for college.

• The form becomes available Oct. 1 and can be filled out using 2015 tax data.

• Counselors and college representatives are available to help. 

NACAC members are encouraged to share the video with the students they serve. 

The film is part of a larger effort to raise awareness about upcoming changes to the financial aid application process. NACAC is partnering with the National College Access Network (NCAN) on a series of outreach projects funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to assist counselors, admission professionals, and families as they prepare for Early FAFSA.

NCAN received a $1,020,246 grant from the foundation in April. NACAC, as a sub-grantee, was awarded $74,000 by NCAN to produce and distribute educational resources — like the video — that help spread the word about Early FAFSA.

Watch the video and learn more about the 2017-18 FAFSA​

To comment on this post, sign into the NACAC website (see top left corner of this page). Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

August 22
#NACACreads: Don't Miss Tuesday's Discussion of 'Life After College'

ThereIsLifeAfterCollege.jpgWhat skills and experiences do today’s students need to make the most of their college years and find success in the job market?

Share your insights during a Tuesday #NACACreads discussion of There Is Life After College. Special guest and author Jeffrey Selingo will take part in the Twitter chat and address the role career planning and preparation should play in the college-going process.

Participation in postsecondary education is at an all-time high. But national data show that half of college graduates in their 20s are underemployed, writes Selingo, a featured speaker at NACAC’s upcoming national conference.

Ask questions and contribute your thoughts during the chat, scheduled to kick off at 9 p.m. (ET).

Haven't finished the book yet? You can still participate! Check out highlights from the bestseller starting on page 24 of the most recent Journal of College Admission.

New to Twitter chats? Read this helpful guide and check out transcripts of past #NACACreads chats.

To comment on this post, sign into the NACAC website (see top left corner of this page). Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org​.

August 18
​ICYMI: Feds Clarify Stance on PPY FAFSA Concerns

fafsaquestionsUSE.jpgIn a few short months, college financial aid offices will enter the first cycle of awarding aid using prior-prior year tax data on the FAFSA

Due to the shift, the income information submitted for 2017-18 by returning students should mirror the data they filed for 2016-17. 

“In theory, both forms should be identical since they are each generated using the same tax year’s data (i.e., from 2015),” according to a recent Bulletin article. “Nonetheless, there will be anomalies and some students will have discrepancies between the two forms.”

New guidance from the US Department of Education offers colleges more information about how such inconsistencies will be handled. 

For the upcoming award cycle, an applicant’s FAFSA will not be flagged for review (even if there is a significant change in the estimated family contribution) in following situations: 

• The student is not expected to be Pell Grant eligible.

• There was a change in the student’s dependency status between the two FAFSA years. 

• There was a change in the student’s or parents’ marital status between the two FAFSA years.

• Professional judgment was performed in either year.

Learn more

To comment on this post, sign into the NACAC website (see top left corner of this page). Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org​.

August 17
Students: Make the Most of a NACAC College Fair

fairUSE.jpgReady to take the next step in your education? There’s no better place to explore your options than at a NACAC National College Fair.

Admission representatives from schools across the country are all gathered in one place. Their goal: To encourage you to learn more about their institutions, and help you sort through the qualities you’re looking for in a college.

Take advantage of their expertise, and make the most of your time by following these simple steps.

Be prepared.

Before the big day, visit nationalcollegefairs.org and scan through the list of colleges and universities that will be represented. Make a note of the schools that interest you the most, and plan to visit their booths at the fair.

Are you looking for colleges that are close to home, or those that are far away? Are you interested in small, private schools, or large, public universities? Which of the institutions in attendance offer your projected major?

“Planning ahead can help you stay focused,” said Cynthia Kaan, a Ferris State University (MI) admission officer. “If you have certain schools you know you are interested in, don’t limit yourself, but make learning about those schools your priority.”

Make your questions count.

Like so many other things in life, a successful visit to a National College Fair is marked by quality, not quantity.

In other words: Rather than focusing on collecting a brochure from every college booth, make it your goal to have in-depth conversations with a few of the college reps on hand.

“I encourage students to not just stop by the table and pick up a brochure, but rather engage the representative with a few questions,” said Valencia Hamman, co-director of college counseling at La Jolla Country Day School (CA). “That means you want to come into the fair with a list of questions so you’re ready for that opportunity.”

Don’t waste time on softball queries, such as “Is your nursing program good?”​

NACAC's Fall 2016 National College Fairs kick off in September. Learn more and register now​. 

“That’s not a good question because it gets you nowhere … no one is going to tell you that their program is terrible, or that it is struggling,” Kaan said. “If you’re interested in a specific program, like nursing, ask college reps what sets their program apart from other colleges, or ask them to compare their nursing program with one at another college that you’re considering.”

Keep an open mind.

Take time to do a little exploring.

Yes, it’s important to plan ahead and select a few colleges you know you want to visit.

But each fair draws representatives from 175 to 400 campuses. The schools are located throughout the US, and from around the globe.

You owe it to yourself to follow-up with colleges that catch your eye.

“Do your research, but also have an open mind,” Hamman said. “Sometimes students take time to talk with a representative from a school that they really hadn’t considered before and it becomes a part of their list.”

Chatting with representatives from a variety of colleges can also help you cement your own preferences, Kaan noted.

“It’s just as important to figure out what you don’t want as it is to figure out what is really attractive to you,” she said.

Learn about the process.

What’s the deal with college entrance tests? What do admission officers look for in a college essay? How can I find out if I’m eligible for financial aid?

No matter where you end up enrolling, you’ll likely encounter at least one of these questions during the college application process.

Use your visit to a National College Fair to get a head start. Check out the fair’s education sessions, covering topics ranging from college costs, to student athlete eligibility and college selectivity.

Each fair also includes a counseling center, oftentimes an invaluable resource for students with specialized interests.

Do you love hands-on learning? Counselors can help you pinpoint colleges that provide research opportunities for undergraduates.

“There are resources available and there are people available who can help answer very individualized questions about the college search process,” said Dana Lambert, a counselor at West Milford Township High School (NJ). “Take advantage of their expertise.”

Follow up.

Ask college reps for their contact information and be sure to follow up.

“Not always, but often, the representative that is attending the college fair is the representative that will end up reading your application,” Hamman said. “Keep in touch with them; reach out with thoughtful, intelligent questions. That demonstrates interest.”

For the colleges you want to know more about, schedule campus visits.

Remember: Your trip to a college fair is the beginning—not the end—of your college search.

“Visiting a campus is by far the most important aspect of looking for a college,” Kaan said. “There’s no other experience like it. It’s the best way to find your perfect fit.”

To comment on this post, sign into the NACAC website (see top left corner of this page). Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

August 16
​Pilot Program to Expand Student Loan Counseling

loancounselingUSE.jpgA new pilot program will offer colleges the opportunity to test different strategies aimed at curbing student debt. 

The initiative — unveiled last week by the US Department of Education — will expand the loan counseling options institutions can use when advising students. 

Under current legislation, borrowers are required to undergo loan counseling at two key junctures — when they take out their first loan, and again when they enter repayment. But many in higher education would like to see more guidance offered to borrowers along the way. 

“Accurate and timely loan information can help students make informed decisions about borrowing,” a department fact sheet notes. “…It also helps students understand their rights and responsibilities as borrowers, as well as their options for managing and affordably repaying their loans after college.”

Across the US, student debt continues to climb. College grads who use loans to finance their education borrow an average of $28,950, data show.

Colleges that participate in the pilot may develop their own counseling program, use one provided by the department, or contract with a third-party. A central goal of the program is to help students make more informed decisions about borrowing.

The federal government will collect data to determine which approach best serves students. 

Learn how institutions can apply for the program and read more about paying for college

To comment on this post, sign into the NACAC website (see top left corner of this page). Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.​

August 15
Students: Chart Your Path to an Arts Degree

musicianUSE.jpgA degree in the arts offers endless possibilities. 

Not only will it help you take your skills to the next level, you’ll also have the opportunity to surround yourself with other artists and learn how to make a living doing what you love. 

Follow these four steps as you navigate the application process:

Get feedback.

Whether you’re a concert pianist or an aspiring filmmaker, your talents and accomplishments will help determine your admission chances. 

Figure out where you stand by seeking out an objective assessment of your abilities. 

Start by asking a trusted teacher or mentor to describe your strengths and weaknesses. You may also consider getting an outside opinion from professionals with a local symphony, dance troupe or theater company. Visual artists can receive portfolio evaluations from college representatives at one of the many National Portfolio Day events offered across the nation. 

An honest appraisal will help you select the type of school and degree path best suited to your abilities and career goals. 

Scope out your options. 

Conservatories, stand-alone arts schools and traditional universities all offer programs for performing and visual arts students. 

Take time to learn about each option, as well the different degree pathways they provide. ​​

NACAC's 2016 Performing and Visual Arts College Fairs kick off in September. Learn more and register now​

Conservatories and art schools offer students the chance to immerse themselves in the arts. At these highly competitive institutions, all students are artists, and degrees offered typically include a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) for artists/performers or a Bachelor of Music (BM) for musicians. Both degrees, also routinely available at larger universities, require rigorous study and practice.

Looking for a more traditional college experience? At many universities, students can major in disciplines such as dance, music or the theatre arts to meet the requirements of a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. In addition to arts courses, students take liberal arts classes and have the opportunity to double-major or minor in another area of interest, such as history or Spanish.

Showcase your talents.

A student’s portfolio or audition lies at the heart of their application. 

Do yourself a favor: Carefully research what each institution requires, and leave yourself plenty of time to prepare. 

Visual artists who have gone through the process of building a portfolio stress that only their best work — the pieces they believe illustrate their technical skills and vision as an artist — are included. Give yourself time to create, and choose a range of recent work. 

Getting ready for a musical, theater or dance audition is equally intense. Focus on perfecting your performance. If you’re going to audition in front of a panel, enlist a friend or teacher to help you prepare for “surprise” elements.

Musicians or vocalists are often asked to sight-read a piece of music as part of their audition. Dancers sometimes attend an open class prior to their solo. Theater students should be prepared to improvise on stage. 

Polish your resume. 

Although your creative talent is a critical part of the admission process, grades and test scores still matter. 

Make sure your academic record is as strong as possible going into your senior year, and be sure to note arts-related achievements on your resume. 

You should also be prepared to answer questions about your artistic process. Many schools require applicants to write essays or sit for interviews. 

Discussing what your art means to you in an open, honest manner can help show school officials what makes you unique.

To comment on this post, sign into the NACAC website (see top left corner of this page). Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.
August 12
​More Students Taking AP Tests in STEM Subjects

mathuse.jpgThe number of students taking Advanced Placement tests in STEM subjects continues to grow, early data shows. 

According to statistics obtained by Education Week, an additional 62,000 students took AP tests in calculus, physics, biology, environmental science, statistics, chemistry, and computer science this year. 

Overall, more than 1.5 million exams in STEM subjects were completed, a 4 percent increase from 2015. 

“Computer science and physics in particular have seen rapid growth again: The number of students taking the computer science test grew from 48,994 to 57,934 between 2015 and 2016; an 18 percent increase,” according to the article. “...Physics 2, a newer course, saw the number of test-takers grow from 20,533 to 26,384, a 28 percent increase.”

Read the full story and learn more about NACAC’s STEM College and Career Fairs

To comment on this post, sign into the NACAC website (see top left corner of this page). Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

August 11
Low-Income Students Need More than a College Degree to Succeed

internshipuse.jpgMentoring and internships are among the experiences low-income students need to truly leverage the promise of higher education, according to a new white paper from the GE Foundation.

“Just attaining a college degree is not enough,” notes the New Dimensions of College & Career Readiness report. “Young people must also develop 21st century workplace readiness skills.”

Such experiences are especially important for students whose families may lack the resources and connections needed to provide career-focused opportunities.

According to the report, five key actions play an important role in leveling the playing field.

They are:
• Participation in a mentorship program
• Development of skills — including grit and adaptability — through internships, apprenticeships, and other activities
• Computer competency
• Exposure to educational programs and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math
• Access to business-education partnerships that allow students to gain work experience prior to entering college

The paper’s recommendations were developed in May during a two-day summit that included representatives from industry, education, and philanthropy.

The “foundational skills” provided by colleges are “as critical now as they have ever been,” noted one summit participant — Dean Garfield, president and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council.

“The key is for them to be supplemented by the additional competencies that are necessary to compete in today’s and tomorrow’s world,” he said.

Read the full white paper and learn more about NACAC’s STEM College and Career Fairs — a great way to help students make connections.

To comment on this post, sign into the NACAC website (see top left corner of this page). Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

August 10
Feds to Colleges: Don’t Move Financial Aid Priority Deadlines

FAFSAuse.jpgAs the new academic year approaches, the US Department of Education is urging colleges and universities to refrain from moving up their priority financial aid deadlines

The request comes as institutions plan for Early FAFSA. The policy shift allows students to apply for federal financial aid starting Oct. 1 — a full three months earlier than was previously permitted. 

Officials have said the new timeline should allow colleges to provide earlier award notifications to students. But in a letter sent to college presidents this week, US Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell urged institutions to keep their current deadlines in place. 

He acknowledged that it may be challenging for colleges “to balance the twin objectives of providing award packages earlier and not setting earlier priority deadlines.”

But Mitchell also noted that moving up deadlines could disadvantage low-income applicants — the very group of students who have the most to gain from Early FAFSA. 

“The goal of Early FAFSA is to expand college opportunity by ensuring that students and families have more time to consider their college options with an understanding of the financial resources available to help them pay for college,” Mitchell wrote. 

Read the full letter and learn more about Early FAFSA

To comment on this post, sign into the NACAC website (see top left corner of this page). Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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