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NACACNet > Collaboration & Networking > Blogs and Communities > Admitted Blog
October 05
Admission Survey: Debt Concerns Are Keeping Potential Applicants Away

studentdebtuse.jpgThe majority of admission directors believe their institutions are losing potential applicants due to concerns about student debt, according to a recent Inside Higher Ed survey.

That finding, and other trends in student enrollment, were discussed Saturday during a panel discussion at NACAC’s 71st National Conference.

“There is so much publicity, and so many horror stories, that a lot of people have gone from seeing debt as a necessary thing to something that they just want to do without,” Scott Jaschik, editor of Inside Higher Ed, told attendees.

Results from the survey, conducted in conjunction with Gallup researchers, show that 76 percent of admission directors believe a fear of debt is preventing students from applying to their respective institutions. The concern is greatest among officials at private universities, with 87 percent of respondents citing debt worries as a barrier in the application process.

“Here’s why this is such an important statistic: It’s about losing potential applicants — they’re not even applying,” Jaschik said.

And while admission professionals surveyed believe that some amount of debt is reasonable in the pursuit of a college degree, proposals floated recently by political candidates indicate that the American public is becoming increasingly leery of student loans.

“There has been a shift in public discourse…people are saying I don’t want any debt,” Jaschik said. “And that is a big challenge to (institutions) that don’t have enough money to make it possible to enroll students without debt.”

Read more about the survey, and sign up for a free Inside Higher Ed webinar to learn more about the results.

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

October 04
NACAC President Pledges Outreach to Community College Counselors

Trout_Use.jpgNACAC will continue to increase its membership in the coming year, Phil Tout, the association’s new president, said Saturday.

“We have areas of growth that just stand there waiting for us,” Trout said during NACAC’s Annual Membership Meeting at the 71st National Conference in San Diego. “Consider, for example, that we only have a couple hundred memberships at community college campuses.”

More than 15,000 admission professionals are currently NACAC members. Trout wants to see that number edge up to 16,000, and said the association must reach out to more counselors working at two-year institutions.

Recent national campaigns aimed at getting more students to (and through) college have highlighted the importance of providing multiple pathways to higher education. NACAC’s Transfer Knowledge Hub features policies and practices that have been effective in encouraging community college students to continue their education, placing the association in a unique position to serve counselors at those institutions, Trout said.

His other goals for the year include promoting professionalism and ethics in the field and advocating for college counselors at the state and federal level.

"And as your president, I pledge to be visible, to be a good listener, to hear feedback, to be a good learner from your feedback and to help make certain that in the coming year, NACAC is at the front on issues of importance in admissions and the transition from secondary to post-secondary,” said Trout, a college counselor at Minnetonka High School (MN).  “It's very important that NACAC is the leader in educational programming — not just for our members, but for the students who are being served by our members."

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

October 03
Colleges Using Search Tools to Reach Students Earlier

mailboxuse.jpgColleges are using search services to contact students earlier in their high school careers, according to officials with The College Board and ACT.

Since the 1970s, students who take exams administered by the organizations have had the option to share their names and academic interests with colleges and scholarship programs.

And recently, that pool of prospective students as grown to include younger teens, many of whom are two years or more away from high school graduation.
“The level of interaction with sophomores has grown pretty significantly in the past few years,” Bettina Donohue, executive director of enrollment programs and services at College Board said during a Friday educational session at NACAC’s 71st National Convention in San Diego.

She presented alongside Ty Cruce, of ACT, and a panel of college admission officers.

“What I think we’re seeing from the college standpoint…is this desire to engage with students and nurture a relationship pretty early in the game,” Donohue noted.

Colleges are also using student search tools more frequently throughout the calendar year, instead of focusing their efforts solely on data collected during high-volume testing sessions, such as the fall PSAT.

 “For us, it’s really evolved into a year-long process,” said panelist Susan Schaurer, associate director of recruitment at Miami University (OH). “We know more and more students are taking tests at the conclusion of sophomore year, sometimes at the conclusion of junior year, so we’re looking to select students in the summer months.”

Although the college search is often discussed from the student perspective, recruiting applicants who are likely to find success on a particular campus is also a top priority for college admission officers. At the same time that students are researching schools, colleges are searching for the right mix of students to fill their next freshman class.

Two-thirds of this year’s first-year students at the University of Miami, for example, were identified through either ACT’s Educational Opportunity Service or the College Board’s Student Search Service.

“Really, we’re looking long-term,” Schaurer said. “We’re looking to use search to identify those students who will come to our campus and who will ultimately be successful.”

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

October 02
3 Ways Data Can Help Counselors Advise Students

Early in his career, a mentor told Arun Ponnusamy that the college admission process  at its best  was “good storytelling.”

The description clicked for Ponnusamy, and he used it to guide his work reading applications at the University of Chicago, the California Institute of Technology and the University of California-Los Angeles.

But Ponnusamy, who now works with students through the California-based Collegewise counseling service, said he’s recently gained a new appreciation for the role numbers can play in helping students craft their college list.

“For a long time, I really thought of the admissions process solely in terms of words,” Ponnusamy told attendees. “But I realized numbers can be a really powerful tool in becoming a more effective counselor.”

He offered these insights during a Thursday education session at NACAC’s 71st National Conference in San Diego:

Numbers offer prospective.

Just say no to Special Snowflake Syndrome. A student’s unique talents should be celebrated and nourished, but sometimes teens (and their parents) need to be reminded that those qualifications don’t automatically equate to admission at a highly selective university.

“It’s easy for students who are at an elite private school, or even my kids who are in a nice suburban public school, to just stay in that bubble and lose track of what the rest of the world looks like,” Ponnusamy said. “I work with a lot of international students, and I spend time explaining (to my domestic students) that the applicant pool isn’t just the other good students in your class.”

To help drive home the point, Ponnusamy shares slides with his students showing the number of domestic and international students applying to US colleges.

The percentage of those students who ultimately are admitted to a highly selective institution, such as Harvard University (MA), is infinitesimal.

“That can be a little jarring for some families,” Ponnusamy said. But the strategy is effective in getting students to also apply to colleges where they are likely to be admitted, he added.

Data promotes transparency.

Is your student considering applying to a college Early Decision (ED)? See how yield rates differ between students who apply ED versus Regular Decision, and check to see what percentage of the class is filled through ED.

All that data  and more  is available on a spreadsheet recently created by independent college counselors Jennie Kent and Jeff Levy.

“If you look at Amherst College where their Early Acceptance rate is 35.4 percent and their Regular Decision admit rate is 12.5 percent, you can counsel your kid in a particular way knowing the data,” Ponnusamy said. “…And when you’ve got a kid who is thinking about two Early Decision schools, this kind of data can be really helpful.”

Got a question? Ask.

Students need good data to make sound college decisions. Use your position as a counselor to collect hard-to-find numbers.

Don’t be afraid to ask for more detail. What positions are included in a college’s student-faculty ratio? What trends is a college seeing related to its admit rate?

“Ask admission officers…to explain things more clearly,” Ponnusamy said. “You’ll find yourself gathering bits and pieces of data, and as you start stringing that all together, you’ll find it makes you a more effective counselor, which leads to better results with your students.”

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

October 02
Sal Khan: Counselors Can Help Make Education a ‘Fundamental Human Right’

khan use.jpgSal Khan dreams big.

His online learning platform — Khan Academy — pledges to provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.

During Friday’s keynote address at NACAC’s 71st National Conference in San Diego he elicited the help of college counselors to broaden that mission.

“I think collectively we have a shot at taking this thing called education…and taking it a little bit closer to being like clean drinking water or shelter — just a fundamental human right,” Khan told attendees.

Although the challenges facing disadvantaged youth at home and abroad are great, the advent of the Information Age presents new opportunities for all students to become college-ready, noted Khan. And a growing body of research on the science of learning is helping counselors and other educators more effectively shepherd student development.

In particular, research shows that people who approach life with a “growth mindset” (rather than a “fixed mindset”) are more likely to be successful academically, Khan noted.

“A fixed mindset type of person says I’m either good at something, or I’m not,” explained Khan. “A growth mindset type of person says: I’m not good at that thing, yet.”

Individuals in the latter group aren’t afraid to fail, telling themselves, “when I get a question wrong, that’s when my brain grows and that’s what allows me to get better.”

The mechanisms of Khan Academy, which offers online lessons and practice exercises in subjects ranging from math to modern art, encourage a growth mindset.

By allowing students to review concepts as many times as needed and progress at their own pace, users are able to experience success in the traditional classroom. They can use the site to fill learning gaps or immerse themselves in unique interest areas, ultimately opening the doors of higher education to underserved students.

In addition, the Khan Academy offers free practice materials for the new SAT and a set of video lessons designed to help students navigate the college admission process.

National survey data show that regardless of income, most students aspire to go to college.

Yet a large disparity exists by income in college completion: In 2013, 99 percent of students from the country’s top income quartile had earned a bachelor’s degree by age 25. And among the bottom quartile, just 21 percent of students had obtained a four-year degree.

Online tools like Khan Academy, paired with caring educators who believe in their students’ potential, can help bridge that gap, Khan said.

“What we all recognize for any of these (college entrance) tests…the best preparation for that is to actually become college-ready,” Khan said.

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

October 02
Expert: Generation Z to Spur Changes in Higher Education

CoolKidsuse.jpgMove over millennials.

The members of Generation Z are entering college. And these young people are poised to shake up higher education — a space already experiencing unprecedented transitions.

“They prefer learning in 10-minute YouTube segments,” Kevin Kruger, a featured speaker at NACAC’s 71st National Conference told attendees Thursday. “That is going to have a profound impact on what they ask for, what they demand, and how they interact with the teaching and learning we’re doing on our campuses.”

As executive director of NASPA — a Washington, DC-based association representing student affairs administrators — Kruger has seen the shift up close. Although there’s no agreement on the exact range of birth dates, demographers categorize the Generation Z cohort as beginning either in the mid-90s or mid-2000s.

And when those students arrive campus, they will expect a new type of college experience.

In addition to learning differently from past generations, members of Generation Z are also more likely to be involved in social activism and to seek entrepreneurial opportunities.

A 2014 survey of students ages 16 to 19 conducted by Northwestern University (MA) showed:

• 72 percent of respondents believed colleges should allow students to design their own course of study or major.
• 63 percent thought colleges should teach students about entrepreneurship, including how to start a business.

“That’s the kind of consumer-driven pressure we’re going to be under as we advance,” said Kruger, who worked as an admission officer at the University of Maryland — College Park early in his career. “…If you think of that from a curricular standpoint, that means some pretty big transformations.”

Those demands come at a time when colleges are already looking to change their structure and services to respond to new technologies, concerns about student health and safety, and growing gaps in educational attainment that “should be a national embarrassment,” Kruger said.
Institutions of higher learning will have to “re-organize, re-engineer and think differently” to properly serve students going forward, he noted.

“What we’re really seeing is not the end of college and university as it’s known…but an evolution of learning,” Kruger said.

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

October 02
​NACAC President: Association is Stronger Than Ever as Membership, Engagement Grows

Fuller_NACACuse.jpgNACAC is “stronger and more active” than ever, outgoing president Jeff Fuller told attendees Thursday at the opening general session of the association’s 71st National Conference in San Diego. 

Total membership surpassed 15,000 in September, while attendance at this year’s conference exceeded 7,400 registrants — a new record.

With those numbers come power, Fuller told the crowd as he highlighted the association’s 2014-15 accomplishments.

During his tenure, NACAC increased its outreach to public school counselors. Through one such project — Essentials of Professional Development — the association provided free training to roughly 700 public school counselors working in large, urban districts.

Yet more outreach is needed, said Fuller, who will hand over the gavel Saturday to incoming NACAC President Phil Trout.

“Our work is far from done,” he said. “There are more public school counselors that are not NACAC members than those who are.”

“I ask you to continue — or start — personal goals to engage public school counselors new to our membership, and encourage all of us to continue toward a full understanding of what all counselors experience in their professional work,” Fuller added.

Due to large caseloads and ever-expanding job descriptions, NACAC data show that public school counselors, on average, spend just 22 percent of their time on college readiness counseling. The issue was examined in the spring edition of The Journal of College Admission.

“Whether it’s a public school counselor, an independent school counselor, a community college advisor or independent educational consultant, we can all work toward an individual understanding of how the role of all counselors frame the work in the transition to college,” said Fuller, who serves as director of student recruitment at the University of Houston (TX).

Also honored at the session were five recipients of NACAC awards. They were:

Gayle C. Wilson Service to Education Award
- William Dingledine, counselor, Educational Directions, Inc. (SC)

Margaret E. Addis Service to NACAC Award
- Alice Tanaka, college counselor, Holy Names Academy (WA)

Excellence in Education Award
- Dr. Trish Hatch, associate professor and director of school counseling program, San Diego State University (CA)
- Mandy Savitz-Romer, director of Prevention Science and Practice Program, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education (MA)
- Shane Windmeyer, founder, Campus Pride (NC) 

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

October 01
Take the NACAC Reach Higher Challenge!

ReachHigherNACAClogo.PNGBeginning today as we kick off the 2015 National Conference, NACAC urges you to take the Reach Higher Challenge.

The Reach Higher initiative is the First Lady Michelle Obama's effort to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university.

During the 2015–16 school year, we hope you’ll commit to one additional activity to help improve college access for underrepresented students. We know you’re committed to this work every day, so who better to show how much more can be done with initiative and creativity to help students reach higher?


Look for your Reach Higher Challenge buttons at the National Conference and wear them proudly as an indication of your support.

What you do is up to you — visit one more high school, host one more college information night, reach out to students you haven’t yet met in your school, ask your school board to designate a Reach Higher week, take on an additional student pro bono — the possibilities are endless. We know what you do will make an impact in someone’s life.

Once you decide what your commitment will be, tell us about it. Throughout the year, keep us posted on your successes. We’ll compile information about the great work our members have done for recognition and celebration in 2016. Throughout the National Conference and the 2015–16 school year, we will share your successes on social media and in NACAC publications. We’ll also share the information with the First Lady, so be sure to tell us what you’re doing.

To comment on this post, sign into the NACAC website (see top left corner of this page). Heather Durosko is a policy and research strategic initiatives analyst at NACAC. She can be reached at

September 30
New Tools Will Offer a Different Approach to College Admission

CounselorWStudentuse.jpgA new set of online tools designed to help students prepare for college and apply to institutions will roll out this winter.

The platform is supported by the newly formed Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success — a group of more than 80 public and private colleges in the US.
Students who use the free service can create an online portfolio showcasing their academic work. They will also be able to use the portal to elicit advice from community leaders and university officials, as well as submit applications to participating schools.

The goal of the project is to reduce the barriers low-income and first-generation students often face in the college application process. The group’s members include all eight Ivy League institutions, several selective liberal arts colleges and many high-performing public universities.  

“A growing amount of research has shown that students from disadvantaged backgrounds often do not participate effectively in the college application process, struggle with applying for financial aid, and often do not get awarded all the financial aid they qualify for,” according to a statement released Monday by the group. “As a result, even some of the most highly qualified students do not attend college, attend colleges that do not engage their full potential, or do not complete their degrees.”

What to learn more? Attendees at NACAC’s National Conference can attend “Affordability and Outcomes: The Coalition Application.” The education session kicks off 10 a.m. Saturday in Room 29A of the San Diego Convention Center.

The Coalition’s online tools will be available to high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors beginning in January. Supporters say the new site will encourage students to start planning for college much earlier, and will help students identify “best fit” institutions based on their academic portfolio.

The Coalition will also provide students with a new way to apply to college. 

Students applying to Coalition schools will continue to be able to submit applications through already established portals, such as The Common Application or the Universal College Application. However, starting in the summer of 2016, many the group’s member schools will also accept applications through the new Coalition site.
To gain membership in the Coalition, colleges must meet affordability standards and have a six-year graduation rate of at least 70 percent, according to an Inside Higher Ed article.
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


September 29
High School Class of 2025 Will Be Nation’s Largest

Kids_Runninguse.jpgPrepare yourself for the upcoming college admission bubble.

The country’s largest freshman class is on track to move into college dorm rooms in fall 2025, data show.

“That’s because in 2007 US births surpassed 4.3 million — a feat not seen since 1957, when college enrollment was less common,” according to a blog recently posted by the Washington, DC-based Pew Research Center.  “Based on trends today, demographers can make certain assumptions about what share of those children will eventually graduate from high school and go to college.”

According to the blog author, Pew researcher Richard Fry, the last college enrollment peak occurred in 2009, “when the children of the Baby Boomers reached college age.”

Members of the high school Class of 2025 are now in third grade. And in addition to being the largest cohort of students to pass through America’s education system, the class is also the country’s most diverse.

Predictions of college-going rates can be upended by unforeseen factors, such as the economy.

“But generally, the number of first-time, full-time college freshmen tracks closely with the number of births from 18 years earlier,” writes Fry, who studies economics and education. “In the post-recession era, about 70 percent of high school graduates go on to be first-time, full-time freshmen in either a two- or four-year 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

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