Research

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 report 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.
 

 Reports

 

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.

 

​Rankings


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.

 
 
 
 

 Research to Practice Briefs

 
NACAC’s series of Research to Practice Briefs are designed to provide professionals with best practice information and ready-made tools to share with key decision makers who establish policies in their schools and colleges.

This brief summarizes NACAC research on the relative importance that colleges place on various factors in the admission decision, including trends over time and differences by the type of college. It can be used by counseling professionals to inform students and families about factors in the admission decision as well as their rights and responsibilities during the college application process​.

 


Social Media: Considerations and Implications in College Admission (2009)
Drawing on research from the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, this brief discusses the recent growth in the use of social media by college and university admission offices. It also highlights best practices for the use of social media and outlines issues that colleges should consider before using social media information as part of the applicant review process.

Adolescent Development and the Transition to College: Psychological and Social Considerations (2009)
This document highlights major aspects of the adolescent development process; outlines ways in which the timing of the admission process may not be congruent with adolescent development; and suggests how counseling and admission professionals can be sensitive to students’ developmental needs throughout the admission process.The information presented i is based on "College Choice and Adolescent Development: Psychological and Social Implications of Early Admission," a discussion paper written for NACAC by Dr. Barbara Schneider of Michigan State University.​

Secondary School Policies: Release of Student Disciplinary Information to Colleges (2008)
NACAC’s Statement of Principles of Good Practice (SPGP) includes a best practice for counseling members to establish written policies on the disclosure of disciplinary information to colleges. This brief highlights results of a survey of high school guidance counselors regarding the prevalence of such written policies and practices for the disclosure of student disciplinary to colleges during the admission process.

Class Rank (2007)
Class rank is one factor that has consistently guided admission decisions over the years. This report provides insight into the role of class rank in the undergraduate admission process as well as how it is used and reported at the secondary level.


Effective Counseling In Schools Increases College Access (2006)
This report highlights research by Dr. Patricia McDonough, a professor of education at UCLA. Her work examines the role of counselors and the resulting impact of their interactions with students and their families.

 


 
 
 

 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.​

 

 Developing the College Counseling Field