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NACACNet > Collaboration & Networking > Blogs and Communities > Admitted Blog
May 03
#NACACreads Author to Appear on Higher Ed Live

how-to-raise-an-adult_300.jpgPlanning to participate in the May 17 #NACACreads discussion of How to Raise an Adult?

You may want to add another date to your calendar: On Monday, Higher Ed Live will present a special interview with author Julie Lythcott-Haims at 1 p.m. (ET). The segment will preview the official #NACACreads discussion and offer more insight into the bestselling book.

Lythcott-Haims gives readers plenty to chew on. A former Stanford University (CA) dean, she's concerned that overinvolved parents are stunting their children’s independence and autonomy.

After years of looking to mom and dad to help them select classes, conquer homework, and smooth over conflicts, young men and women often have difficulty separating their dreams and ambitions from the ones set by their parents, she writes. The approach can elicit positive short-term results, such as a good grade on a paper.

Already finished the book? The hour-long #NACACreads chat will kick off at 9 p.m. (ET) on May 17. Submit questions ahead of time on Twitter using the #NACACreads hashtag.

But over the long-term, Lythcott-Haims believes it perpetuates a crippling “no mistakes” mentality that complicates the college admission process and leaves students ill-prepared to make the most of their college years.

Learn more about book, and tune into Higher Ed Live to prepare for the next #NACACreads chat.
May 02
Malia Obama’s College Decision Shines a Spotlight on Gap Year

gap yearUSE.jpgMalia Obama has made her college choice: She’s headed to Harvard.

But first, the 17-year-old plans to take some time off. And her decision has prompted a national discussion about gap year — a break in formal education between high school and college.

Students can explore careers, travel, or save money for higher education during a gap year, which typically lasts 12 months. Proponents say teens who use the break to broaden their horizons are better prepared and more focused once they arrive at college.

Some institutions, including Harvard, actively encourage admitted students to take a gap year — as long the time is spent “in a meaningful way.” According to the university’s website, between 80 and 110 Harvard freshmen defer enrollment each year.

Jeffrey Selingo, author of There is Life After College, said gap year students are most successful when they use the time to tackle something new.

“For a gap year to have a significant impact on success in college, and later in the working world, it needs to be a transformative event, quite distinct from anything a student has experienced before—a meaningful work experience, academic preparation for college, or travel that opens up the horizon to the rest of the world,” writes Selingo, a featured speaker at NACAC’s upcoming national conference. “It should also be designed to help students acquire the skills and attributes that colleges and employers are looking for: maturity, confidence, problem solving, communication skills, and independence.”

For now, the Obamas are staying mum about Malia’s plans. But by taking a gap year, the president’s eldest daughter will have the opportunity to enter college after her family has moved from the White House.

“By deferring her start date until 2017, Malia may be maximizing her chances of having an ordinary freshman year, removed from the kind of news media attention and social media chatter her parents have worked to fend off for their daughters throughout Mr. Obama’s time in office,” The New York Times notes.

Learn more about gap year, and read a Q&A with Ethan Knight, a NACAC member who serves as executive director at the American Gap Association.

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

April 29
Rates of Underemployment Drop for College Grads

collegegradsUSE.jpgThe job market is improving for college graduates, according to a recent report from Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

In the five years since the end of the Great Recession, underemployment rates for Americans with a college degree have declined from 10.2 percent to 6.2 percent, data show. By comparison, the underemployment rate of high school graduates is 13 percent.

The category is a catchall of sorts. It encompasses the unemployed, as well as part-time workers who’d prefer full-time jobs. Also included are people who’ve dropped out of the job market, but would be willing to work if more good positions were available in their field.

Overall, minorities are more likely to be underemployed than whites, researchers found. But as education levels rise, racial differences in underemployment decline.

“More and more, a college degree is becoming a ticket out of the underemployment line,” study author Anthony P. Carnevale said in a press release. “It’s also clear that education is a pathway to reducing racial inequalities.”

Read the full study and learn more about the occupational outlook for college grads.

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

April 28
College Applicants Will Soon Have More Ways to Report Gender

transgenderUSE.jpgStudents will soon have more avenues to describe their gender identity when applying to colleges.
The Common Application and the Universal College Application — which together serve nearly 670 colleges — announced changes to their forms this week.

Starting this summer, applicants who identify as a gender other than male or female will have the opportunity to let colleges know about their unique gender expression.  

“Both applications will continue to ask about gender in the traditional way, with officials of both applications saying that their member institutions want close alignment with the way the federal government and other entities track data,” Inside Higher Ed reports. “But those questions will be rephrased in ways that acknowledge that this answer may not reflect students’ identities. The Universal question will now be ‘legal sex.’ The Common App question will now be ‘sex assigned at birth.’”

The forms will also allow space for students to offer additional details.

On the Universal College Application, students will be able to fill out a free response question about gender identity. Likewise, the Common App will allow space for applicants to provide further information, giving transgender and other students more freedom in defining their identity.

“We want to make sure that all students have the ability to express themselves in the ways in which they feel most comfortable,” Gil Villanueva, dean of admission at University of Richmond (VA) and chair of the Common App board, told Inside Higher Ed.

Read more about transgender students and 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

April 27
First Lady Celebrates College Signing Day in NYC

MichelleObamaSigningDay475.jpgGetting into college is only half the battle, First Lady Michelle Obama told a group of New York City students Tuesday.

The next challenge? Buckling down and earning a degree.

"The minute you get to college this fall, I want you to get right back to work," Obama told the teens, who were gathered to celebrate College Signing Day. "Today is not the end of your journey. It's just the beginning."

More than 1,000 similar events — which honor college-bound students — were planned nationwide as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher campaign. The initiative is aimed at increasing college access for low-income, minority, and first-generation students.

More than 4,000 students attended the Harlem event.

"I am no different from you all," Obama said. "My parents didn't have money. I went to public school. We didn't have a whole lot of examples to follow. But I know that if I can do it, you can do it, too."

She also reminded college-bound students to ask questions and seek assistance.
“The minute you start to feel yourself fall behind, the minute you feel yourself struggling. You absolutely have to ask for help,” Obama said. “Remember this: No one — no one — gets through college alone. And you’re not supposed to.”

Watch the full speech.
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

April 26
NACAC Members ‘Reach Higher’ to Promote College Access

ReachHigherNACAClogo.PNGSchools across the country are celebrating College Signing Day, and for many NACAC members the event caps off a year spent promoting access to postsecondary education.

This fall, dozens of counselors, admission officers, and access advisors took NACAC’s Reach Higher Challenge. The initiative, inspired by the First Lady’s campaign, asks members to “commit to one additional activity” aimed at improving college access for underrepresented students. 

Many school counselors helped organize today’s Signing Day events in an effort to create a college-going culture within their schools. Meanwhile, admission professionals developed new recruitment and outreach strategies with the goal of reaching more low-income, minority, and first-generation students.

“It’s all about planting seeds,” Bob Bardwell, director of school counseling at Monson High School (MA), said of the Reach Higher Challenge. “It’s about letting all students know that there are options for them after high school.”

Monson High School fully embraced the campaign. The school recognized College Application Celebration Week this fall; a senior Signing Day event is planned next month.

The counseling office is also launching a new program to help admitted students navigate the transition to postsecondary education. Participants will hear tips on how to get along with roommates, manage their time, and become involved on campus.

“We want to position our seniors to be successful,” Bardwell said.

Colleges have also taken the Reach Higher message to heart.

While attending last year’s national conference in San Diego, Laura Stratton — director of admission at Scripps College (CA) — pledged to increase the institution’s outreach to underrepresented students.

The college added an additional fly-in program, scheduled more recruitment stops at access organizations, and participated in a college planning program for students at a DC charter school.

“It helps put a human face on the college admission process,” Stratton said of the outreach efforts. “We want to make sure that (students) are exposed to all their options, and that they know about all the amazing opportunities out there.”

Did you participate in NACAC’s Reach Higher Challenge? Share your story in the comment section below. And, remember, it’s never too late to get involved. Sign up today.

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

April 25
Scholarship Program Improves High School Graduation Rates in Washington

ClassroomUSE.jpgThe promise of scholarship dollars has improved high school graduation rates in the state of Washington, data suggest.

“For the fourth year in a row, the high school graduation rate for students who signed up for Washington’s College Bound program was significantly better than that of eligible students who didn’t sign up for the program,” according to a recent Seattle Times article.

The initiative, which is open to low-income students, promises financial aid to teens who stay out of legal trouble and successful graduate from high school with a GPA of at least 2.0.

Students commit to the program in seventh or eighth grade. Participants are guaranteed financial aid equaling the amount it will take for them to attend a state technical school, community college, or four-year university.

“About 75 percent of students who signed up for College Bound graduated from high school in four years,” the Seattle Times article notes. “By comparison, only 62 percent of students who were eligible for College Bound — but didn’t sign up — graduated in four years.”

The program has been around since 2007. The first scholarship recipients graduated from high school in 2012, and are now in their fourth year of college.
Learn more about early financial aid guarantees.

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

April 22
Why Junior Year is Important for College-Bound Teens

studyingUSE.jpgIs your student a high school junior?

Make sure they finish the academic year strong.

That’s the advice NACAC member Willard Dix offered in a recent column published by Forbes.

“Study in groups if possible, go the extra mile with research or homework, and find the spark of interest that will propel you to the end of the year,” Dix urges students.

He goes on to ensure parents: “Even if there’s no time to raise a grade completely, the effort and dedication can make a difference when they ask for a teacher recommendation.”

Dix calls junior year “the spotlight year.”

“It’s the most ‘complete’ year of a transcript,” writes Dix, former associate dean of admissions at Amherst College (MA). “… Junior year, as the last full year of grades and activities to be evaluated, represents the fullness, if not the completion, of a student’s high school career.”

Other tips for 11th grade students: Read for pleasure and polish your writing skills.

“One thing I emphatically do not recommend for juniors is extensive studying or cramming for the ACT or SAT,” Dix writes. “…Juniors are better off in the long run focusing on their classes, activities, and reading to broaden their outlooks.”

Read the full column and check out NACAC’s student and parent webpage for more tips.

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

April 21
First Lady Tells Teens to Focus on College Fit

seventeen-may-16-first-lady-newsstandUSE.jpgStarting your college search? Make sure “you do you.”

That’s the advice First Lady Michelle Obama recently shared with Seventeen magazine.

“The one thing I’ve been telling my daughters is that I don’t want them to choose a name,” she told the magazine. “I don’t want them to think, ‘Oh I should go to these top schools.’ We live in a country where there are thousands of amazing universities. So the question is: What’s going to work for you?”

The eldest Obama daughter, Malia, will be headed off to college this fall. Younger sis, Sasha, is a high school freshman.

Michelle Obama — who graduated from Princeton University (NJ) and received a law degree from Harvard University (MA) — has worked to increase college access through the Reach Higher and Better Make Room initiatives.

In December, she released a light-hearted “Go to College” music video, urging tweens and teens to plan for the future.

During her interview with Seventeen, Obama advised students to follow their college dreams — even if others say their goals are improbable.

“(H)ere’s what I did: I decided to ignore the doubters,” she said. “I plunged ahead and I got in…every step of the way I used those doubting voices as motivation.”

Learn more about 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

April 20
Students: Tips to Help You Determine Financial Aid Fit

finaidcalculatorUSE.jpgDecision Day is fast approaching for hundreds of thousands of college-bound seniors.
The first business day in May — also called National College Decision Day — is the deadline for students to accept an offer of admission and make a tuition deposit at many colleges and universities.

For most incoming freshmen, the process of deciding where to attend college includes a close look at financial aid offers.

 A new blog post from the US Department of Education walks students and their families through the process.

One key step: Comparing the out-of-pocket cost to attend — a figure (often referred to as net cost) that varies from institution to institution.

“To find this amount, start with each school’s cost of attendance,” the blog post notes. “From there, you want to subtract the free money (like grants and scholarships you were awarded) to come up with your out-of-pocket cost. This is the number you’ll want to compare across schools.”

After weighing the money matters, take another close look at the colleges themselves “to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.”

“Even if one college’s cost is a little higher, it might be worth paying a little more out of pocket if it means massively larger benefits down the road,” according to the blog.

And most importantly: Take steps to minimize debt. 

Just because you’re offered a loan doesn’t mean you have to take it. In many cases, the financial aid package you receive from a college will include more loans than you need to cover the cost of your education.

“Loans are just borrowed money; you’ll have to pay them back with interest,” the blog notes. “You don’t have to accept the loans you’re offered — and it you do accept a loan, it’s okay to accept less than the full amount offered.”

Learn more college costs and paying for 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

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