NACAC is dedicated to undertaking rigorous, unbiased research exploring issues of concern to college-bound students, their parents and the educators who serve them.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

 State of College Admission

NACAC’s annual State of College Admission is based on surveys of school counselors and college and university admission offices nationwide. NACAC provides this report each year to highlight issues of concern to college bound students, their parents and the educators who serve them.



Use of Predictive Validity Studies to Inform Admission Practices
Author: NACAC

Publication Date: June 2016

This report sheds new light on the important role predictive validity research can play in informing admission practices. Although predictive validity studies are used to assess the value of a variety of admission decision factors that colleges consider, they are often used to determine the added value of admission test scores. Survey data from more than 400 US colleges show that while the majority of institutions require students to submit ACT or SAT scores, only half track how well standardized tests predict student success on their campuses.​

Authors: NACAC & Hobsons
Publication Date: October 2015

This report highlights promising state- and school-level practices using individual learning plans (ILPs) to prepare students for success beyond high school. It builds on previous research conducted by Hobsons with a national survey of high school counseling offices to better understand how schools are currently implementing ILPs. The study also explores whether schools, districts, or states have invested in a process of evaluating the effect of ILPs on students’ postsecondary plans and post-high school outcomes.

Authors: Sarah Hurley & Anna Coles
Publication Date: April 2015

The report, published in collaboration with Excelencia in Education, examines how school counselors assist Hispanic students throughout the college transition process. A comprehensive literature review, as well as data gathered from a national survey, revealed that counselors play a crucial role supporting minority students and their families.

Admission Careers

Author: NACAC
Publication Date: July 2014

This report presents the results of a survey of NACAC admission professionals, offering insightful observations on their career experiences and advice to others to advance in the profession.

​Provisional Admission Practices: Blending Access and Support to Facilitate Student Success

Authors: Dr. Andrew Howard Nichols & Melissa Clinedinst



Publication Date: April 2013

In collaboration with The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education and the Lumina Foundation for Education, NACAC undertook a qualitative study exploring provisional admission policies as an avenue for expanding four-year college access to disadvantaged students. The report presents key findings including best practices for establishing provisional admission programs. 

Author: NACAC
Publication Date: September 2012

On account of the NACAC Assembly—the organization’s governing body—requesting a study on the use of wait lists by colleges and universities, this report was issued using data from NACAC’s annual State of College Admission report.​

Author: NACAC
Publication Date: September 2010

This report includes results from a study assessing the impact of early notification of college admission on students, admission and counseling professionals, and their institutions. A survey of high school counselors and college admission officers also examined the prevalence of pre-senior year admission policies as well as guidelines for the earliest applicants can be notified of their admission decision.  

Effects of the Economy on the Admission Process, 2008-09
Author: NACAC
Publication Date: September 2009

Published at the height of the recent economic downturn, this fact sheet analyzes how high school guidance counseling offices and admission departments at universities and colleges were affected by the recession. 

Authors: Alexandria Walton Radford, Nicole Ilfill, & Terry Lew





Publication Date: 2013

This report draws on data from the second wave of the US Department of Education’s High School Longitudinal Study to explore how high schools and counseling offices across the country support students as they transition from high school to college. The second half of the report focuses on factors influencing students’ interest in postsecondary education such as perceptions of college affordability and the financial aid application process.

Preparing Students for College: What High Schools are Doing and How Their Actions Influence Ninth Graders' College Attitudes, Aspirations and Plans

Authors: Alexandria Walton Radford & Nicole Ilfill



Publication Date: December 2012

In order to understand the ways US high schools are preparing students for the college transition process, NACAC, in partnership with MPR Associates, analyzed data from the US Department of Education's High School Longitudinal Study. The report largely examines high school counselors including how their attitudes and interactions with students affect ninth graders’ college aspirations. 

Balancing Acts: How High School Counselors View Risks and Opportunities of Student Loans.

Authors: Melissa Clinedinst & Luna De La Rosa



Publication Date: June 2007

This report highlights findings from a study concerning high school guidance counselors’ perceptions of student debt. The research found widespread concern about student debt; some significant challenges in advising students and parents about loans; and generally positive views of how student loans can expand educational opportunities mixed with worries about the risks loans pose for low-income and less academically prepared students.



Report from NACAC Ad Hoc Committee on U.S. News & World Report Rankings of Undergraduate Institutions
Publication Date: September 2011
This report concerning the use and validity of U.S. News & World Report’s annual  rankings  incorporated findings from a survey of college admission processionals, information from committee discussions, and meetings with representatives from NACAC’s state and regional affiliates. 

Older reports can be found here.


 Discussion Papers

Discussion papers inform the association and the public about issues related to the college counseling and admission profession and the transition to college. The views and opinions expressed in these reports are solely those of the authors and not necessarily those of NACAC.

Professional College Knowledge: Re-envisioning How We Prepare Our College Readiness Workforce (2012)
Dr. Mandy Savitz-Romer, Director of Prevention Science and Practice at Harvard University Graduate School of Education 

This paper identifies critical information related to academics and policy necessary to create a common set of professional competencies needed to improve and coordinate the work that college counselors and admissions professional do across multiple contexts.​


Dr. Don Hossler, Vice-Chancellor for Enrollment Services at Indiana University Bloomington

Various admission statistics including application numbers, selectivity and yield rates were analyzed in order to investigate enrollment trends between 2001 and 2008. 

Additional discussion papers are also available for download.​


 College Counseling Profession