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NACACNet > Collaboration & Networking > Blogs and Communities > Admitted Blog
August 28
Number of Online Courses for AP Students Continues to Grow

MOOCpicuse.jpgThe number of free, online courses designed to help high school students to master the content featured on Advanced Placement exams continues to grow.

Lessons in calculus, physics and macroeconomics developed by Davidson College (NC) were added to the edX site last month.

Over the past year, edX has launched similar Massive Open Online Courses — or MOOCs —  in AP physics, computer science and English language and composition.

But while the College Board, which oversees the AP program, was not involved in the development or promotion of those courses, it did assist with the classes created by Davidson.

And unlike other offerings, the latest round of lessons is meant to supplement — not replace — traditional instruction, according to a recent report from The Washington Post.

“We know that online AP courses have long been available to students who lack access to an AP teacher, but many students — including underserved and under-represented students — struggle to complete such college-level coursework on their own,” Carol Quillen, president of Davidson, said in a statement. “This project helps make equal educational opportunity real for all students.”

A student’s grades in college-prep classes is the top factor in college admission decisions, followed by the strength of their curriculum, test scores and overall grade-point average, according to NACAC data.

Students who do well on AP exams earn college credit on many campuses.
So far, about 2,000 users have enrolled in each of the Davidson AP courses, according to an edX blog.

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 27
Study: Barriers to Admission Exist for Low-Income International Students
intl2.jpgDespite steady increases in the number of non-citizens studying at US colleges, low-income international students continue to face barriers accessing higher education in the United States. 

While American universities have invested in organizations like QuestBridge and Posse to help them identify and recruit impoverished students domestically, outreach efforts to low-income students living overseas are limited, according to research conducted by Ryan Benitez.

Benitez, who graduated from Princeton University (NJ) this spring, surveyed more than 50 of the nation’s top colleges as part of his senior thesis.
 
His findings: Although nearly 90 percent of colleges said it was important to have low-income international students on campus, the cost of educating such students impedes the policy changes needed to address the disparity.

Three-quarters of respondents reported that “limited financial aid resources” prevent their institutions from admitting more low income international students. While domestic students of modest means can tap into federal financial aid, no such pool of money exists to support their international counterparts. 

“The challenge becomes how to restructure institutions’ financial limitations so that they can admit more of the low-income students they currently desire but cannot afford,” Benitez wrote in his thesis.
 
Benitez said that each college’s socioeconomic diversity figures should be made public, with data available for both domestic and international students.
 
“My estimation is that colleges would allocate more money to financial aid if socioeconomic diversity played a bigger part in college rankings,” Benitez told Admitted. “…Colleges don’t like to look bad compared to their peer institutions.”

In-country efforts to help low-income international students prepare to study in the US are also needed, said Benitez, who is employed by Ashinaga Uganda, a Japanese organization that helps low-income orphans from Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

While working as an intern for the organization in 2013-14, Benitez helped three gifted Ugandans study for the SAT and prepare college applications. The students went on to enroll at Smith College (MA), Villanova University (PA) and Pepperdine University (CA).

Although Benitez’s study showed that US colleges currently aren’t willing to invest in organizations that could bring such endeavors to scale, the Princeton grad said low-income international students would benefit from efforts to improve access.

“The US application process is incredibly complex relative to other countries; it is confusing and overwhelming even for US high schoolers,” Benitez told Admitted. “…I think that NGOs and organizations ‘on-the-ground’ in foreign countries are necessary to help low-income students navigate US admissions.”
 
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 26
Another Reason to File Your FAFSA Early

studentjob1.jpgNeed another reason to fill out your FAFSA as early as possible?

The US Department of Education recently reminded students that opportunities available through the Federal Work-Study Program are limited.

Although more than 3,400 colleges and universities across the country take part in the program, some schools award work-study positions based on the date that students apply.

“Schools that do participate have a limited number of funds that they can award to students who are eligible,” according to a recent entry on the department’s Homeroom blog. “This is why it is so important for students to fill out their FAFSA as early as possible, as some schools award work-study funds on a first come, first served basis.”

The post — written by a trio of financial aid officers — seeks to demystify the process of applying for work-study funds. Participants in the need-based program generally work 10 to 15 hours a week, often at an on-campus location, such as a library or dining hall.

To fully take advantage of the opportunity, applicants need to know about the program’s quirks. For instance, in addition to applying early, students need to understand that being awarded work-study funds does not guarantee them a job.

“Some schools may match students to jobs, but most schools require the student to find, apply and interview for positions on their own, just like any other job,” according to the blog authors. “It is important that students who are interested in work-study or who have already been awarded work-study contact the financial aid office at their school to find out what positions are available, how to apply, and how the process works at their schools.”

Read the full article and check out NACAC’s financial aid resources.

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 25
Facebook is Still a Powerful Recruitment Tool

girlwtablet2.jpgStudents’ personal use of Facebook may be declining, but the tool continues to play a critical role in shaping college decisions, according to a recent article in the Journal of College Admission.

“(W)hile only 12 percent of students indicate following or searching for a school-specific account on Facebook, that number increases to close to 30 percent when a student is deciding where to enroll,” according to Gil Rogers, director of enrollment insights with Chegg, a California-based company whose services include student recruitment and retention.
 
The findings shared in Rogers’ piece come from Chegg’s annual Social Admissions Report.
 
"The growth of Facebook as a destination for college information is likely related to how colleges and universities have integrated the site into their outreach," according to study authors. "Students know that generally they can go on Facebook and find a college page and use it to connect with other students."

In the Journal, Rogers notes that half of all teens surveyed by Chegg said chatting with current college students via social media had influenced their decision of where to enroll.

JCA_summer_65.jpg
The Journal of College Admission is available online for a limited time. Check it out now.

Schools can aid students in the decision-making process by ensuring that sought-after information is available on social media channels, according to Rogers.

Nine out of 10 students say costs play a role in their college choice, Chegg data shows.
 
“Of course, social media is more of a tactical way of reaching students at the latter stages of their search,” Rogers wrote. “It’s more important to also understand what is influencing their decision to ensure your message and resources align with their needs.”
 
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 24
Report: Good Jobs for College Grads Lead Recovery

youngpros2.jpgAfter years of stagnation, “the American job machine” is producing new positions once again, and college graduates are reaping the rewards.

The vast majority of “good jobs” added in the recovery — full-time positions that pay more than $53,000 annually — went to individuals with a bachelor’s degree, according to a report released last week by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

Of the 2.9 million so-called top-shelf jobs created since 2010, 2.8 million have gone to college graduates, data show. Meanwhile, workers with a high school diploma or less have continued to lose ground, forfeiting 39,000 good jobs since the beginning of the recovery.

“The numbers are clear: postsecondary education is important for gaining access to job opportunities in the current economy, and job seekers with bachelor’s degrees or higher have the best odds of securing good jobs,” report authors conclude.

The growth rate of good jobs has outpaced that of middle- and low-wage jobs since the recovery, according to the study. The majority of high-paying jobs added were in the areas managerial positions, as well as jobs in health care, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

“The surge of hiring is not concentrated in dead-end McJobs,” according to the report. “If anything, the surge is concentrated at the other end of the scale: in good, high-paying jobs that provide benefits.”

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 21
Former College Athletes Share their Experiences

soccer2.jpgHectic schedules, painful injuries, the rush of competition, and friendships that last a lifetime.

Eleven former collegiate athletes recently shared their memories — the good and the bad — with The Huffington Post.

The resulting story?  A compilation charting the range of experiences college-bound athletes may encounter once they arrive on campus. Interviewees talked about their schedules, the difference between varsity and club sports, and the lessons they learned along the way.

Thousands of students compete in college sports each year, with many teens researching athletic programs as part of their college search and selection process. While some of those interviewed said athletics helped keep them on track in the classroom, others reported feeling overwhelmed by the physical and academic demands they faced in college.

“(T)he question must be asked: Are college sports worth it for student-athletes who have no hope of going pro,” Huffington Post editor Justin Block writes in his introduction. “The answer depends on the individual.”

Here’s a sampling of some of the responses his query elicited:

“Ultimately, playing reserve was the best of both worlds. I got to play soccer at a high level, but not being required to travel meant I could pursue a double major and work on the school newspaper.” — Kim Bellware, soccer at Valparaiso University (IN)

“Once I got out of school and started working and paying my own expenses, I realized how incredible it is to graduate debt-free.” — Carly Ledbetter, volleyball at Elon University (NC)

“For me, it really eliminated the need to do any fraternities or rushing or go out and drink. I was so focused on basketball that I think it really helped me from an academic standpoint.” — Jordan Schultz, basketball at Temple University (PA) and Occidental College (CA)

“(T)o be honest, the weight training shocked me a little. They not only had me lifting more than others to put some more muscle on me, but they also put me on the ‘football meal plan,’ giving me multiple meals a day. I gained 20 pounds in three months.” — Julian McWilliams, baseball at Ohio University

“After I stopped playing, my grades got better, I threw myself into my studies, I did a lot of community service.” — Sumorwuo Zaza, football at Harvard University (MA)

“I never expected to go pro in squash (I was around No. 12 of 14 players on the team most years), but I had an awesome time playing and made a lot of friends through the team.” — Hollis Miller, squash at Williams College (MA)

Read the full story.

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 20
#NACACreads Chat: Rewarding Creativity on College Apps Would Have Trickle-Down Effect

photogirl2thispne.jpgColleges that accept video essays or provide other avenues for students to express themselves in the admission process may be on to something.
 
That was the assessment made Wednesday by participants in the inaugural #NACACreads Twitter chat.

The issue was raised during a discussion of Sal Khan’s The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined. In the book, Khan — founder of the online learning platform, Khan Academy — notes that “today’s world needs a workforce of creative, curious and self-directed lifelong learners.”

Yet, despite that reality, “the current system of testing and grading tends to filter out creative, different-thinking people who are most likely to make major contributions to a field,” he writes.

College can encourage the next generation of innovators by providing more avenues within the admission process for students demonstrate their academic potential and share what excites them about learning, #NACACreads participants said.

One potential model? The art school application process, in which a students’ creative work and goals are thoroughly examined alongside test scores and high school transcripts.

“Art schools with portfolio options seem to be headed in the right direction,” tweeted Jeffrey Neill, director of college counseling at Western Reserve Academy (OH).

Changing the way some schools present themselves to students could also help, noted Arun Ponnusamy, a counselor with Collegewise (CA). Colleges should stress the importance of creativity and self-directed learning to prospective students “early and often,” he added.

Other topics addressed in the chat included online education, learning gaps and the importance of access to education. Read the full transcript.

Take our survey to provide feedback about #NACACreads and offer book suggestions.
“Too many build info sessions and brochures on quantitative metrics,” Ponnusamy tweeted.

College counselors and admission officers can foster enthusiasm and growth among students by advising them to take a deep breath, and focus on their interests — whatever they may be, said Jim Sargent, assistant director of admissions at Trinity College (CT).

Such steps are critical to fostering student motivation — a factor linked to achievement, he said.

“Encourage students to explore their passions instead of just doing what they think admissions officers want,” Sargent tweeted.

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 19
Tune in Tonight: NACAC’s First Online Book Discussion Kicks Off at 9 p.m.

Khan_Book_Cover_300.jpgTonight marks the inaugural session of #NACACreads, an online Twitter chat for college admission professionals.
 
Join colleagues from across the country in a discussion about Salman Khan’s The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined. The 2012 book tackles issues related to college-readiness, student transcripts and the college admission process.

Khan, founder of Khan Academy and keynote speaker at NACAC's upcoming National Conference, is considered a pioneer in the field of online learning.

In his introduction, he states: "We can no longer afford for only some parts of the world's population to be deeply educated."

Watching video lessons or using interactive software cannot in and of itself "make people smart," Khan writes.

"But I would argue that it can do something even better: create a context in which people can give free rein to their curiousity and natural love of learning, so that they realize they're already smart," he notes.

New to Twitter chats? Check out this helpful guide.

Use the #NACACreads hashtag to follow along with tonight's conversation and add your comments to the discussion, scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. (EST).

Didn’t have time to read the book? You'll still welcome to participate. Get up to speed with Khan’s latest venture by reading this recent article from the Journal of College Admission.

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
Change to FAFSA Would Keep Students’ College Lists Confidential

fafsa student1.jpgColleges would longer be privy to the list of institutions included on their applicants’ Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) under a policy change announced last week by the US Department of Education.

The shift will be finalized after a 60-day public comment period and approval from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.

The FAFSA — used to award federal financial aid — currently asks students to list the colleges to which they plan to apply. Currently, any school cited by a student is granted access to that applicant’s entire college list.
 
Some believe that students may unwittingly reveal their preferences through the order they list their prospective schools, with their favorite choices situated near the top.
 
Denise Horn, a department spokesperson, told Inside Higher Education that officials believe that data has been used “in a way that is not appropriate.”
 
“(S)ome colleges use that information in their admissions decision process — looking to see if any of their competitors were listed,” Horn wrote in an email. “Similarly, some use the information to determine if and how much institutional aid to provide — why spend money if the student would likely come to my school anyway?”
 
The FAFSA, used by millions of students each year, allows applicants to list up to 10 colleges. The new policy protecting that data is scheduled to go into effect in January 2016.
 
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
Videos Gain Foothold in College Admission Process

videogirlus.jpgTechnology continues to change the way students apply to college.

More than 90 percent of applications are now submitted online, according to NACAC data. And, increasingly, admission offices are reviewing student-made videos during the decision-making process.

A crop of tech start-ups is trying to capitalize on that trend.

One company, ZeeMee, recently formalized an agreement with two colleges in Philadelphia. This fall, applicants to St. Joseph University and Drexel University have the option of creating online profiles through the company.

The service, similar to LinkedIn, allows students to upload videos, documents and photos to supplement their official application.

“We really wanted something to help students create a three-dimensional view of themselves,” Melissa Calder, NACAC member and associate director of communications and admissions at St. Joseph, told the Philadelphia Business Journal. “It allows the admission counselor to get a visual illustration of the applicant.”

This year marks the first time applicants for NACAC’s annual scholarship competition were asked to submit video essays. Winners will be recognized at the National Conference in October, with the top entries posted on the NACAC website.

Other colleges, including Tufts University (MA), encourage students to upload video essays via YouTube. Goucher University (MD) created its own video application, allowing students to send their creations directly to the college’s admission office.

Goucher President José Antonio Bowen says he expects more colleges to adopt “alternative applications” in the coming years.

Students today have more access to technology than ever before. Most cell phones now include tools that allow users to shoot and edit videos.

“More people can do this,” Bowen told The Washington Post. “Not only the rich, not only the privileged.”

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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