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NACACNet > Collaboration & Networking > Blogs and Communities > Admitted Blog
May 28
Survey: Money Shapes Students’ College Decisions

Girl_Filling_Out_App_500.jpgFinancial considerations play a large role in students’ decisions whether and where to attend college, according to national poll results released today.

The top reasons to pursue higher education are to improve employment opportunities, increase earning power and land a good job, according to the College Decisions Survey, commissioned by the Washington DC-based New America think tank.

Money matters also weigh heavily in the college selection process.

Respondents said the most important factors when deciding on a specific school are the programs offered, availability of financial aid and total cost.

According to a research brief by New America, disaggregated data shows that “for all but the wealthiest of students … cost is the critical factor when deciding what college to attend.”

The paper is the first of several scheduled to be released over the next few months highlighting survey data.

Other topics to be covered in future papers include:
- Financial concerns during the postsecondary decision-making process
- The application process for different types of students
- Students' familiarity with financial aid
- Students' ability to estimate their loan debt and monthly payments
- The college search process and helpfulness of various common resources

Read the first policy paper.
 
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.

May 27
Counselors Asked to Share NACAC Guide with International Students

trusted12.jpgA new NACAC guide aims to help international students better understand the advisors available to them in the college search and application process.

The publication — Trusted Sources: Seeking Advice on Applying to Universities in Another Country — describes the roles played by counselors, admission representatives, government agencies, independent consultants, and agents.

High school counselors are encouraged to freely share the resource with their students; admission offices are asked to distribute it via their websites and other communication channels.
 
International student recruitment agency activity has been the subject of considerable controversy in recent years. The NACAC guide highlights high-quality and low-quality agency practices and emphasizes the values of ethical college admission.

Though directed at students and parents, NACAC is hopeful this guide can serve as a professional resource for college counselors and admission officers.

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.
May 26
PARCC Updates from New Jersey, Massachusetts and Illinois

PARCC_2.jpgThe first season of testing for the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) multi-state consortium will come to a close in a few weeks.

Teams of postsecondary faculty and content experts will then work together this summer to set performance levels based on student scores for the high school assessments.

Implementation of the Common Core standards, as well as the assessments tied to them, are unique to each state. Below are updates from three PARCC states — New Jersey, Massachusetts and Illinois.

New Jersey
• PARCC scores could be used by the New Jersey Council of County Colleges for placement purposes as early as 2016. The association, which represents the state’s 19 community colleges, will compare achievement levels on the PARCC assessment (due out this fall) to measures currently used for determining college readiness, including the Accuplacer, SAT and ACT. A mechanism to deliver scores to colleges has yet to be decided upon.

• The state’s College Readiness Now initiative established pilot transition programs for juniors and seniors preparing for college. The programs were offered at 18 of the state’s community colleges during the spring and summer of 2014.  An evaluation revealed that about half of the participating students were deemed college-ready in English and/or math by the close of the program. Sites varied significantly in their implementation and student achievement levels.

Performance Levels

PARCC is one of one of two state coalitions that have designed new student assessments aligned to Common Core standards.

Achievement levels on tests created by Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (the other state testing coalition) were set in Fall 2014 using data from pilot tests.

Adoption of the score thresholds for PARCC performance levels is expected in mid-August.
 
Scoring for the PARCC assessments will consist of five performance levels. A score of 1 will represent the lowest performance level; a score of 5 will signal the highest performance level.

Attaining a level 4 or 5 will indicate college- and career-readiness (or adequate progress towards that goal), according to PARCC officials.

Validity studies comparing scores on Smarter Balanced and PARCC assessments will be performed in the coming months.


Massachusetts
• The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education completed field testing of the PARCC assessments in 2014.  Districts were given the choice this spring of whether to administer PARCC or the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System’s English and math tests for grades 3-8. The majority chose PARCC. The board will vote this fall whether to officially adopt the PARCC assessments for English and math statewide.
 
• In a joint statement earlier this year, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, the University of Massachusetts, Massachusetts State Universities, and Massachusetts Community Colleges, said they would support PARCC as the primary tool for placement purposes if the new assessments were deemed better at predicting college readiness than current tests. A mechanism already exists for sharing PARCC scores with higher education institutions, although details of how the transmission would work still need to be determined.
 
Illinois
• The Illinois Council of Community College Presidents voted earlier this year to adopt a policy to use PARCC assessments for placement purposes at community colleges. The policy — not a mandate — outlines how to use PARCC scores for placement in English and math courses. However, other placement tests may still be used. There is no timeline for colleges to adopt PARCC scores as a placement tool, and the mechanism for transferring student scores to colleges hasn’t been determined
 
 
Heather Durosko is a policy and research strategic initiatives analyst at NACAC. She can be reached at hdurosko@nacacnet.org.

 

May 26
#EMchat to Explore State of College Admission Report

 

emchat-soca6.png
 
Want to learn more about the findings included in NACAC’s latest State of College Admission report?
 
Melissa Clinedinst, NACAC’s associate director of research, will answer questions during a live #EMchat this week.
 
The discussion kicks off Thursday at 9 p.m. ET.
 
Live #EMChat discussions are designed to connect enrollment management and other admission professionals and are held most Thursday nights on Twitter.
 
The State of College Admission, released earlier this month, is an annual report examining the transition from high school to postsecondary education. The 12th edition marks the first time NACAC has included chapters on transfer students and international students.

Read the full report.

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.
May 22
Between the Lines: What a College List Does Not Tell You

Student_list_Girl_trythis22.jpg
Editor’s note: A version of this post originally appeared on The Ellis School (PA) blog.

It has become customary for many schools to publish a list of college decisions each May. The Ellis trythis.PNG
School, where I work, is no exception. Our students are so bright and involved and — with 30 students accepted to more than 80 colleges and counting — every girl has excellent options.

But after more than 13 years in the college admission field, I have come to understand that, no matter how impressive, a college list alone does not convey what is truly important and meaningful about a young person’s college admission story. What matters most are the truths they discover about themselves during the process.

Here are a few of the things that a college list, on its own, cannot tell you:

A college list does not articulate how students find their voice. Each student invests so much in understanding themselves and their goals. Where they intend to apply and where they actually apply and ultimately enroll often evolves profoundly during this process. There is a real self-knowledge that develops along the way. Ultimately, a college list shows you what decisions were made, but not the many ways in which students came to know themselves and define what they want from their future, especially if the school selected is not an instantly recognizable brand name. Behind every college list are well-developed, independent, exciting student voices. As college counselors, we are privileged to have heard them.

A college list doesn’t begin to capture the maturity, bravery and seriousness of most seniors. Students pour themselves into their applications and, as such, deal with tremendous potential for rejection. Some students feel enormous pressure to apply to Ivies, to legacy schools, to those that fulfill family or cultural expectations of success, or that reflect financial realities. Despite these pressures, at Ellis, the Class of 2015 applied to the schools that spoke to their authentic aspirations. They almost never made the easy or obvious choice. Our students came to know, deeply, what they want from their futures. They went for it.  

A college list does not reflect how carefully students and their families weighed the financial implications of a particular choice. College costs continue to rise in levels disproportionate to family incomes, making cost and value an increasingly important part of the college decision process. A highly selective school that offers little financial aid or scholarship funding might place graduate or medical school out of a student's reach. Many students pay close attention to such considerations, Some of our students were offered financial packages that were just too good to refuse. Students are thinking through how their choices now may affect their choices later. That type of careful planning takes real maturity and vision by students and their families.

A college list does not express the support classmates often provide to one another. I've had the privilege this year to participate in and overhear many heartfelt college discussions. I’ve witnessed students cry tears of joy when their peers were admitted to college. I’ve watched students lift up one another in the most respectful manner imaginable when the path to college took unexpected turns. I applaud students who have the emotional intelligence to be both ambitious and profoundly supportive at the same time, and who know when to ask probing questions and when to step back to allow their peers to feel confident in their decisions. The type of empathy, teamwork and friendship students demonstrate during the college admission process will sustain them far beyond their time in high school.

Finally, each list represents an unscripted and hopeful future. A college name on a list does not set a student’s course. No matter where students enroll, their futures depend on the choices they make while they are there, the opportunities they seize, and the connections they make. It is gratifying when students have the maturity to take intelligent and strategic risks, and when they demonstrate confidence, creativity, and competence in equal measure. Those qualities, ultimately, are far more meaningful than the brand name of the college each student selects.

When you look at a college list, I encourage you to read between the lines, and see the diversity, individuality and promise of every student.

NACAC member Lauren Lieberman is director of college counseling at The Ellis School (PA). Contact her at liebermanl@theellisschool.org.

May 21
DREAMers Share Their College Admission Story

campus2.jpgDespite graduating at the top of their high school class, twin sisters Brizzia and Maria Munoz Robles weren’t sure they’d be able to attend college.

As undocumented immigrants, the young women knew they would face several hurdles in the admission process.

They received federal authorization in 2012 to work and legally attend college in the US through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Still, challenges remained.

“DACA made college a possibility, but it was not guaranteed,” the sisters wrote in a recent blog published by The Washington Post. “Even with the new temporary status, we could not apply to most state schools, and we were limited to a few colleges.”

The twins’ college counselor pointed them toward the University of Notre Dame (IN).

The school revised its policies in 2013, allowing undocumented students to be admitted without a student visa. All students — including those with DACA status (commonly called DREAMers) — are eligible for financial aid at the university.

“After visiting, we were contacted by several faculty members who knew about our situation,” the twins wrote in their blog post. “It was the only school that directly reached out to us. The guidance we received gave us a sense of comfort and support that we’d never had when it came to our futures.”

The sisters, who were born in Mexico and entered the US at age 5, recently completed their freshmen year at Notre Dame.

They disclosed their DACA status online in an effort to raise awareness of the issues undocumented students face and the factors that cause families to emigrate from their home countries.

Before entering the US, the sisters lived in a house with 14 people. There was rarely enough to eat.

“Our parents wanted us to have a better life and education,” they wrote. “…We are committed to working hard so that one day we will be able to give the university and our nation as much as they have given us.”

Learn more about DACA on NACAC’s undocumented student webpage.

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.

May 20
Shared Data a Key Component of ASU Transfer Pathway

Transfer_Campus_resized2.jpgA program that guarantees qualified transfer students admission to Arizona State University is gaining national attention.

The initiative, a collaboration between ASU and the Maricopa Community College system in Phoenix, was featured in a recent blog on the American Association of Community Colleges website.
 
Students who enter the program complete special pathway coursework — classes that earn them an associate degree, while also meeting prerequisite requirements for the ASU major of their choice.
 
A shared data system allows officials at both institutions to monitor student progress.
 
“Once students are accepted into the program, there’s an ability for (ASU) to electronically receive transcript information that populates into their automated degree audit system,” Maricopa leader Paul Dale said in the blog.
 
Dale, who serves as president of Paradise Valley Community College, said the bulk of students on his campus are enrolled in the program.
 
“It’s a robust system that monitors, even before they get to ASU, their work with us,” Dale is quoted as saying.

For additional research and policy guidance regarding transfer pathways, visit NACAC’s Transfer Knowledge Hub.

Fifty-eight percent of four-year colleges and universities anticipate that the importance of transfer student recruitment will increase over the next three years, according to the NACAC’S 2014 State of College Admission report.

 
Officials from ASU will talk more about their university’s various transfer options this fall during a Learning Lounge session at NACAC’s National Conference.
 
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.

 

May 19
Federal Government Launches Student Loan Repayment Campaign

StudentLoanVideo.PNGThe federal government is asking college counselors and others to help raise awareness of student loan repayment options.
 
Federal Financial Aid — an office of the Department of Education — kicked off the initiative this month. Sharable videos, tweets and other content related to loan repayment are being offered through the campaign.

Wendy Bhagat, director of awareness and outreach with Federal Financial Aid, is encouraging others to use those resources to spread the word about loan repayment.

Content will rotate every two weeks, Bhagat said in a blog posted this week on the department’s website.

The campaign, which will run through June 30, also highlights an online toolkit designed for mentors and advisors who help students navigate the financial aid process.

All the resources featured through the campaign — including loan repayment calculators, sample PowerPoint presentations and fact sheets — can be accessed online year-round.
 
Roughly two-thirds of all students at four-year colleges graduate with loan debt, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. Among students with loans, the average debt level among graduating seniors was $29,400 in 2012.

Learn more about the process of applying for and receiving financial aid.

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.

May 18
‘Playlist’ Strategy Helps Students Build Unique College Lists

Perez3.jpgNACAC member Steffany Perez uses her job as co-director of college counseling at Oakwood School in California to share new ideas about colleges with her students.

In a recent Journal of College Admission article, Perez compares the college selection process to picking out a music playlist. If her students asked her for new artists to check out on Spotify and she recommended Beyoncé, she wouldn’t be offering them anything they couldn’t find on their own.

To help students and families look at schools that might not appear on the “greatest hits” list of colleges, Perez asks her students to pay attention to their own journey. Their college lists don’t need to look like their best friend’s. By focusing on the college characteristics that are important to them, they’ll be able to find a college that truly meets their needs. 

Perez’s advice for students and families going through the college admission process?  “Let it go.” Let go of your preconceived notions and others’ expectations. She advises parents not to make the college search a central topic of conversation; comparison and constant discussion only serve to heighten anxieties. 

To comment on this post, sign into the NACAC website (see top left corner of this page). Hannah McIntosh Burke can be reached at hmcintosh-burke@nacacnet.org.

May 15
College Board to Offer New STEM Credentials
STEM3.jpgHigh school students will soon be able to earn STEM credentials, signaling college- and career-readiness in the areas of engineering, biomedical engineering or computer science.

The new program — a partnership between the College Board and Project Lead the Way — was announced on Wednesday.

Trevor Packer, a senior vice president with the College Board, said in a media interview that he expected the new credentials to be well received by college admission officers. The College Board oversees Advanced Placement exams, as well as the SAT.

“Admissions officers clearly value students taking the most rigorous courses, but they also want to put a stop to any sort of arms race,” he was quoted as saying.

College Board credentials in STEM — an acronym referring to science, technology, engineering, and math — would offer students the option of making “more nuanced and principled decisions as they go through high school and tamp down on the rush to take more AP courses for AP’s sake,” Parker said.

The new pathways offer rigorous courses and encourage students to hone in on interest areas.
What’s your take on new credentials? Will they affect the college admission process for your students? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

To be eligible for credentials, students must complete an introductory class in engineering, biomedical engineering or computer science. A related AP course comes next, followed by a hands-on, career-focused class exploring specialized topics such as artificial intelligence or aerospace engineering.

The credentials, which will appear on transcripts, will be available to students starting in summer 2016, according to a College Board press release.

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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