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NACACNet > Collaboration & Networking > Blogs and Communities > Admitted Blog
July 03
Rhode Island College Offers Conditional Acceptance to High School Juniors
Conditional_Acceptance_BLOGPIC.jpgNinety high school students from Rhode Island are ahead of the curve when it comes to the college admission process.

Through a new program announced this summer, the teens — all rising seniors at the state’s Central Falls High School — have been granted conditional acceptance to Rhode Island College, located in the state’s capital city.

According to an article published on the college’s website, roughly 70 of the students visited the campus last month during a special preview program that included a tour, orientation and issuance of student identification cards.

The initiative is an attempt to encourage high-achieving Central Falls students to pursue postsecondary education. According to state data, more than 65 percent of students at the school qualify for free or reduced school meals — a proxy for poverty.

Students offered conditional acceptance were in the top 50 percent of their high school class.

As a condition of admission, they must take the ACT or SAT and complete an official Rhode Island College application. Students must also maintain or increase their grade point average during their senior year and obtain a “certificate of reliability” from high school officials.

Would a conditional acceptance program encourage more students in your community to enroll in college? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

In return, the college — a NACAC member — will waive the teens’ application and enrollment deposits. Accepted students will also be able to keep laptops issued by Central Falls High School to help cut down on their technology costs.

The initiative is similar to provisional admission programs offered by other universities to prospective college freshmen. Both types of interventions seek to expand access to higher education.

But while provisional admission programs generally address learning gaps (as highlighted in this 2013 NACAC report), the program at Rhode Island College is unique in that it focuses on helping students bypass barriers found in the college admission process.

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.

July 02
Students in Unique Situations Get Help Navigating the Financial Aid Process

FinancialAidStudents.jpgCertain students face unique challenges when applying for financial aid.

In particular, navigating the process can be complex for adult learners, foster youth, military personnel, veterans, wards of the court, undocumented students, and single parents.
 
Recently updated tip sheets from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) are available to assist college counselors and others as they help those students submit the paperwork necessary to pursue postsecondary education.

“As a secondary school counselor or mentor, you are frequently the first person a student turns to for advice about financial aid for postsecondary education, and your support can make all the difference,” according to a statement published on the NASFAA website.
 
Situations addressed by the tip sheets include funding options for dislocated workers, re-admission protections for military personnel returning to college, and documentation requirements for homeless teens seeking to complete the FAFSA as an independent student.

Other resources, including an article outlining common myths and misconceptions about financial aid, are available on NACAC’s website. Sessions on assisting veterans and homeless youth in the college admission process will be offered as part of NACAC’s National Conference, scheduled Oct. 1-3 in San Diego.

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.

July 01
Supreme Court to Reconsider Case Involving Race-Based Admission
supremecourt12.jpgThe US Supreme Court’s decision to reconsider the high-profile case of Abigail Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin has the potential to re-shape the legal landscape of race-conscious admission policies.

The court announced on Monday that it would hear arguments in the case in late 2015. A decision is expected in spring 2016.

At the center of the case is Abigail Fisher, a white Texas student who applied to UT-Austin and was rejected. She sued the university, arguing that its admission policies, which use an applicant's race as a factor for students not admitted through the university's so-called Top Ten Percent Plan, violated her rights under the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause.

Previous Supreme Court rulings have held that a diverse student body is a "compelling state interest." Universities may consider race as one factor in admission decisions in order to help achieve a "critical mass" of campus diversity — but that this may only be done with extreme caution. Colleges must demonstrate that race-blind practices have been tried, and that they fall short of bringing about the desired results. Additionally, institutions may not issue racial quotas; and race, if used, may only be used in conjunction with other factors.

To learn more about the Fisher case, check out NACAC’S Diversity in Admission webpage.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that UT-Austin met these requirements, and that its use of race in its admission procedures was constitutional. Fisher appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which first heard the case in fall 2012. Instead of issuing a decision on the constitutionality of UT-Austin's practice, the Supreme Court ordered the appeals court to reconsider the case using a "strict scrutiny" standard, which it believed had not been adequately applied the first time around. Doing so, the lower court again found UT-Austin's policies to be constitutionally sound.

Fisher has now asked the Supreme Court to consider whether the Fifth Circuit ruling can be sustained under the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Equal Protection Clause.

A New York Times report says many lawyers and higher education experts believe the court’s decision to reconsider the Fisher case signals “readiness to strike down the policy.” Currently, a quarter of UT-Austin’s class is admitted through a holistic process, in which race may be considered as one of many factors, according to the report.

NACAC will closely monitor Fisher in the coming months and update members on the implications of the decision for institutional race-conscious admission policies.

National Conference attendees will also be able to attend an educational session that will examine the ongoing legal challenges to the use of race in college admission and the implications of these challenges for institutional and national diversity agendas.

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.

June 30
Changes to ACT and SAT Ahead in 2015-16

actsatpic.jpgSay goodbye to words like “prevaricator” and “sagacious.”

The new SAT, scheduled to roll out in March 2016, will “focus on vocabulary that students are likely to use again in college and career,” according to an article published today in Forbes.

The test will also be more aligned to the lessons teens learn in high school, writes Jim Montoya, a vice president of the College Board. In addition, students will no longer be penalized for guessing.

The College Board, which oversees the SAT, partnered with Khan Academy to release practice materials last month for the new test.

“We listened to feedback from students, parents, teachers, and college and university professionals,” Montoya said in his article. “The result is a test that is more useful, focused, and clear."

Changes are also ahead for the ACT. Starting this fall, students who take the essay portion of the exam will be asked “to evaluate multiple perspectives on a complex issue and to generate an argument based on reasoning,” according to the test’s website. Previously, the ACT’s writing test was considered an “exercise in classic persuasion.”

The new test seeks to measure the writing skills that students will need in college and in the workplace, according to ACT.

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.

June 29
Report: Support Services Important for First-Generation College Students
firstgenstudent.jpgLeaders at two research-based educational non-profits say “personalized academic and career-planning” is key to helping first-generation college students.
 
The statement was included in a national study released last week examining the academic performance and aspirations of students who are among the first in their families to consider postsecondary education.
 
The report, published by ACT and the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE), said guidance and support for first-generation students is crucial to expanding access.

“Those factors also include supportive services that assist students in making the high school-to-college transition and balancing their lives as students, workers, and family members — a necessity for almost all first-generation students,” ACT President John Erickson and COE President Maureen Hoyler wrote in a letter introducing the report.

According to the study, the percentage of first-generation students taking the ACT has almost doubled over the last four years. In 2014, first-generation students accounted for 18 percent of all test-takers — up from 10 percent in 2010.

Of those students, the vast majority said they planned to attend college, with more than a quarter indicating they were interested in pursuing graduate degrees.

However, first-generation students scored below their peers in all subjects tested by the ACT. Report authors said the results indicate, in part, that more students need exposure to rigorous curriculum. They also suggested that schools and others working with prospective first-generation college students develop “programs targeted at developing behaviors that aid students’ academic success.”

For tips on how to help students and their families prepare for college, check out NACAC’s Step by Step: College Awareness and Planning for Families, Counselors and Communities.

Important habits include motivation, social engagement and self-regulation, according to report authors.

“If students are to be successful in meeting a core set of academic standards, they need to be sufficiently motivated to persist at their work,” the report states. “…Cultivating behavioral habits that contribute to postsecondary and workforce achievement can have a noticeable impact on students’ achievement and persistence levels.”

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.
June 26
Report: Colleges Have ‘Small Window’ When Recruiting Adult Students

adult_learning.jpgAdmission officers have only a “small window of time” to reach adults students who are considering higher education.
 
That’s the assessment of a report released this week by New America, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute based in Washington, DC.

“Younger students tend to apply to more schools and take more time to perform their search,” according to report author Rachel Fishman, who examines findings from New America’s College Decisions Survey in her policy paper. “Older students — especially those over 30 — apply to fewer institutions and spend less time researching their options.”

Consider this: A majority of respondents ages 30 to 40 reported beginning their college search sometime in the five months preceding their participation in the survey. The pool included both prospective and recently enrolled students, indicating that at least some of the respondents completed their college search in a matter of months.

The result, according to Fishman, is that adult students are more likely to enroll at colleges that seek out nontraditional students – even if those institutions aren’t best-suited to meet their needs.

“Right now, for-profit colleges use huge portions of their budgets to advertise to these students, even though they are often not the best option for students in this demographic, because they are much more expensive than community colleges or even regional public four-year institutions,” Fishman writes.

Revamping the US Department of Education’s College Scorecard could help nontraditional students make more informed choices, according to the report. New America also encouraged public colleges to use radio spots, ads on public transportation and search engine optimization to reach working adults in their communities.

The policy paper is part of a series of reports examining the college admission process. The first installment, released in May, examined the role financial considerations play in students’ decisions whether and where to attend college.
 
Other topics to be covered in future papers include financial aid, student loans and resources used in the college search process.

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.

June 25
Five Tips to Kick-Start Your Social Media Presence

Kate_photoGOOD.jpgDid you know more people own a smartphone than a toothbrush? Just like smartphones, social media is everywhere, and offers a great opportunity to connect with the students and families you serve.

Here are a few tips to get you started.
 
1. Develop a social media plan. Start by setting goals. Your goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) and should also be aligned with your mission. When creating your plan, keep your audience in mind. Who do you plan to reach? A little research on the platforms and hashtags used by your audience will go a long way and will help you post relevant content.
 
2. Inform students. With 92 percent of teens going online daily, social media is an efficient tool to reach this audience. Share articles related to the college admission process. Snap photos during college visits, fairs, and workshops and post them on your social media accounts to help develop a college-going culture. Post reminders and deadlines to keep students up-to-date.
 
3. Participate in a Twitter chat. Twitter chats are a great way to make new connections, expand your social reach, establish credibility, and collaborate with others. Not ready to fully participate? Don’t be shy! You can always say hello during roll call and listen along. Check out NACAC’s College Admission Social Media Round Up in the Bulletin to catch up on recent Twitter chats and see a schedule of upcoming Twitter chats.

The school counselors and college access professionals of Metro Nashville Public Schools district learned about best practices for social media during today’s college readiness workshop, Essentials of Professional Development. Check out today’s highlights on Twitter using #Essentials15.

4. Use NACAC’s resources as content. NACAC’s articles for students and parents cover topics ranging from college search to financial aid. Check out the National College Fairs schedule to remind students about upcoming college fairs. Share the latest professional trends using the Admitted Blog. Post resources from NACAC’s list-serve, The Exchange. Live tweet during NACAC’s Summer Academy webinar series. Join #NACACreads, an online book club, to discuss books related to education and the college admission process on Twitter.

5. Have fun! Keep the momentum of your social media account rolling by creating engaging campaigns. On the road often? Pick a stuffed animal mascot and snap a few photos during your travel. Looking to capture your students’ attention? Create an Instagram challenge with a college admission-related theme.
Now that you’re ready to kick-start your social media presence, we’d love to connect with you! Follow NACAC on all of our social media channels.

 

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To comment on this post, sign into the NACAC website (see top left corner of this page). Kate Sigety is the manager of communications, content, and social media at NACAC. She can be reached at ksigety@nacacnet.org.  

 
June 24
New Common App Essay Prompt Focuses on Problem-Solving

college_essay1.jpgStudents applying to schools using the Common Application have a new choice when it comes to crafting their college essay.
 
A prompt added to the 2015-16 application asks students to describe a problem they’ve solved or would like to solve. It is one of five essay options included on the Common App. The other four remain largely the same as those offered in 2014-15.

According to creators, applicants who select the new prompt can write about any problem, “no matter the scale.”

“This new prompt gives students lots of latitude,” including the opportunity to address “something that is personal,” independent college adviser Lee Bierer wrote in a column published this week by The Charlotte Observer.

“I think colleges want to understand students’ coping mechanisms, their resiliency, their creativity and very importantly their writing and critical analysis,” Bierer noted.

Counselors routinely encourage teens to get an early start on their college essays. Several NACAC members hold camps over the summer months to help students kick-start the writing process.

“The more time you have, the less stress you’ll have,” according a college essay tip sheet developed by NACAC.

No matter which topic students choose, creativity counts, admission professionals say.

“The danger lies not in writing bad essays but in writing common essays, the ones that admission officers are going to read dozens of,” said one counselor quoted in NACAC’s tip sheet. “My advice? Ask your friends what they are writing about, and then don’t write about that!”

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.

June 23
Students' College Choices Often Match Those of Older Siblings

campusfamilyblog.jpgLooking for a way to predict where a student will ultimately enroll in college?

Check out their family tree.

A new study shows that one-fifth of younger siblings enroll at the same college as an older brother or sister. The paper, published in the Economics of Education Review, includes data from 1.6 million sibling pairs.

“Controlling for both the younger sibling’s and the older sibling’s academic skills, younger siblings make very similar college choices to older siblings,” researcher Joshua S. Goodman said in an interview published today in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  

Even when brothers and sisters part ways, the experiences of the older sibling seem to be influential, data show. According to the report, younger siblings are 15 to 20 percentage points more likely to enroll in four-year colleges or highly selective institutions if an older sibling did. 

Siblings of the same gender, and those who are close in age and academic performance, are more likely to choose the same institution.

Read the full interview and check out NACAC’s tips for students researching colleges and deciding where to enroll.

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.

June 22
Idaho Weighs Changes to College Admission Process

college1.jpgEducation officials in Idaho are considering changing the admission process at the state’s eight public colleges and universities in an attempt to boost enrollment.

A proposal introduced to the state board of education calls for all high school seniors to learn whether they “pre-qualify” for admission. The decision would be based on the students’ grade point average, total school credits and SAT scores.

Roughly half of Idaho’s high school graduates don’t go on to college, a statistic supporters are hoping the proposed policy could change. The national average rate of college attendance is 62 percent, according to a story by the Associated Press.

"We're not getting to where we want to be with the practices we've been practicing," Mike Rush, executive director of the Idaho education board, told reporters.

"I'm excited about the possibility,” he added. “I'm a little worried at how it will work. But the point is you have to take a risk to get results."

Would prequalified admission help boost college-going rates in your state? Share you opinions in the comment section below.

Under the plan, students would still need to fill out paperwork to secure a spot at the school of their choice. Board members will vote on the proposal in August. 

State officials in 2010 set the goal of having 60 percent of Idaho's young adults complete postsecondary training by 2020. Changing the state’s college admission process could be critical to meeting that mark and would support Idaho’s future economic health, supporters say.

Read more about the connection between the economy and higher education.

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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