In Time for 2018 Elections, NACAC Survey Shows Student Activism is on the Rise

Media Contacts:
Shanda Ivory

Kristen Garman

Arlington, VA (Nov. 2, 2018) — The intensity of the current political climate has led to increased activism among students at more than half (52 percent) of all secondary schools across the US, according to survey data from the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).

The finding is one of several included in a new NACAC research brief that explores the effects of today’s political rhetoric on college-bound students and examines how the political climate is affecting the college admission process. The association surveyed school counselors and college admission officers on the subject earlier this year.

Although levels of activism varied across schools, with 27 percent of respondents reporting that the political environment had no effect on the students they served, a full 52 percent of school counselors reported increased political engagement.

In the words of one respondent: “They’re woke and they’re angry! And they’re registered to vote!”

Other noteworthy findings include:

  • Counselors reported a sense of disillusionment among students at more than one-third of schools (35 percent).

  • Nearly two-thirds of colleges (61 percent) reported increased difficulty over the past two years in recruiting international students due to changes in the political and regulatory environment.

“Our members have observed a change in the public discourse recently that presents challenges in almost all phases of our lives,” said Stefanie Niles, NACAC president. “As an organization committed to fairness, equity, ethics, and social responsibility, we are conscious that incivility, dishonesty, and hate can exact a serious toll on our lives and the lives of our students. We remain committed to providing students with a welcoming learning environment, and to providing professionals with the tools to serve students in the transition to postsecondary education ethically and responsibly.”

The findings highlighted in the research brief come from two surveys conducted earlier this year by NACAC. The association received 2,251 responses to its Counseling Trends Survey and 493 responses to its Admission Trends Survey. Professionals from both public and private institutions were included in both surveys.

Read a summary of the results and learn more about the surveys.


The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), founded in 1937, is an organization of more than 15,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education. NACAC is committed to maintaining high standards that foster ethical and social responsibility among those involved in the transition process, as outlined in the association's Code of Ethics and Professional Practices.

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