#NACAC20: Current Crises Demand New Mindset for Colleges

The work of colleges and universities has never been more urgent, education leader Michael Sorrell told attendees Thursday at the NACAC Virtual Conference.

In these unprecedented times, higher education institutions have a duty to both students and democratic society, said Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College (TX). History will judge the ways in which US colleges respond to the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s continued shameful treatment of Black people, and the actions of the current presidential administration, Sorrell said at the conference’s closing session.

He urged attendees to look at what their institution could do differently in this time crisis, which has hit minorities particularly hard.

“I am an advocate of higher education, but I’m also critical of it,” said Sorrell. “I don’t think we’ve done enough, and I don’t think we are who we need to be. If we are honest, we produced the people who produced this moment. We need to fix it.”

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#NACAC20: Advocacy in the COVID-19 Era

Want to make life better for students (and your institution) amid the pandemic?

Speakers featured during a panel discussion on politics, government, and higher education at this week’s NACAC Virtual Conference offered two suggestions.

  1. Pick up the phone.
  2. Vote.

“These are very tough times we are living in,” Paul Mounds, chief of staff for the governor of Connecticut, told attendees. “…This is not the time to be shy about your financial situation. This is not the time to be shy about the situations facing your students…Government needs to hear directly from you.”

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#NACAC20: Ibram X. Kendi Urges Examination of Admission Policies and Practices

Funding formulas, testing policies, and recruitment and retention strategies are just some of the areas that must be addressed by schools, colleges, and communities seeking equity and access for all students, celebrated antiracist scholar Ibram X. Kendi told attendees Tuesday at the NACAC Virtual Conference.

Racism is embedded throughout American society, he said. Dismantling such systemic injustice will require persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination.

“You can’t declare one day: I am antiracist,” said Kendi, bestselling author of How to be an Antiracist and other books examining race in America. “But you can say, I’m striving to be. You can say, I’m going to go on that journey.”

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#NACAC20: A Students-First Approach to Higher Ed

If US higher education is to survive, it must refocus its efforts and prioritize students, NACAC CEO Angel B. Pérez said Tuesday in remarks at the 2020 NACAC Virtual Conference.

Like many sectors of the US economy, the admission profession has felt the effects of the coronavirus crisis on its institutional budgets, Pérez noted. But those concerns are secondary when compared to the larger crisis looming for higher ed, he said.

“While we all understandably worry about our schools and our institutions, we have to remember that without students, nothing else in the educational endeavor matters,” Pérez said in his first keynote address as the association’s chief executive officer. “…As we move away from enforcing a code of ethics, NACAC will act publicly and with determination when policy or practice threatens to cause harm to or perpetuate inequities among students.”

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Facing a New School Year with Less Stress During a Pandemic

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As a former high school counselor, I know the start of a new school year is exciting. The journey toward college and the future can, however, cause some apprehension under the best of circumstances. This year, with all the unknowns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, there is a heightened sense of anxiety among juniors and seniors especially. But if you and your family are healthy, there are things you can do to relieve some stress and still propel yourself toward your post-graduation goals.

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Appealing Your Financial Aid Package

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COVID-19 has set back the financial situations of many college students and created a tough learning environment for everyone. There’s been a lot of media attention highlighting that students can request more aid if their financial circumstances change.

So what’s the deal?
Yes, you can appeal your financial aid.

During this global crisis, many students already are facing significant economic hardships and challenges and need additional financial aid to stay in school. Let your college know how you’ve been affected by filing a “special circumstance appeal” to communicate a job loss or significant change in financial situation. You can also request support for dependent care, child care, or disability-related expenses.

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Recordings of NACAC’s Test-Optional Forum Now Available for Purchase

I had the outstanding opportunity to watch the Transitioning to Test-Optional Admission Forum recently hosted by NACAC.

There have been so many ongoing changes in the standardized testing world, and it seems new decisions are made on a weekly basis. It’s often a challenge to keep up and stay informed.

Watching these webinar sessions provided valuable insights into the actual, real-life decision-making processes regarding test-optional policies and the reasons behind them.

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#NACACchat: Transitioning to College with a Disability

How can college admission professionals help students who have a disability transition to college? How can students advocate for themselves to access the resources they need?

View a transcript of our most recent #NACACchat. Special guests included Jill Corbin, director of college and transition counseling at Denver Academy and NACAC Learning Differences Special Interest Group leader; Annie Tulkin, founder and director of Accessible College, where she provides college transition support for students with physical disabilities and health conditions nationally; and Elizabeth C. Hamblet, college learning disabilities specialist at LDadvisory, which provides advice on college topics for students with learning disabilities or ADHD.

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#NACACchat: Join Tomorrow’s Twitter Discussion

How can college admission professionals help students who have a disability transition to college? How can students advocate for themselves to access the resources they need?

Join NACAC’s Learning Differences Special Interest Group for a #NACACchat Twitter discussion on best practices for helping students transition to college with a disability, including how COVID-19 can impact this process.

The chat will take place Wednesday, Sept. 2 at 1 p.m. ET and will be led by @NACAC and members of the Learning Differences SIG. Continue reading #NACACchat: Join Tomorrow’s Twitter Discussion

A Suggested Framework for Prison Higher Education Reform

An oft-forgotten yet important subsection of college and university programs are those that take place in prison. While these programs provide prisoners with an otherwise unachievable education, many have problems that prevent prisoners from accessing equitable higher education. These prison programs often are considered selective, with applicants having to prove their worth through standardized tests, essays, and even proof of extracurricular activities. These requirements can be difficult for the average student to meet, let alone an incarcerated student. Recognizing these problems, Erin Corbett and Second Chance Educational Alliance, Inc. (SCEA) created a three-principled framework to help transform these outdated prison programs into more equitable ones.

The Framework

  • Reconceptualize an admission process that accounts for incarcerated student access to time, information, and opportunity
    • Broaden partnerships with community-based organizations to ensure community representation in the admission and enrollment process
    • Implement an open and rolling admission timeline
    • Create an application process that centers on portfolio assessments rather than GPA or standardized test scores
      • Imprisoned students are often enrolled in life skills programs that provide certifications upon completion. These certificates can be used in place of more traditional guideposts of student success.
    • Shift assessment and program models to leverage a competency mastery model
      • Root curricula and credentials in competency mastery rather than credit hours
        • Project based learning is an excellent way for students to connect with their studies and demonstrate mastery
      • Implement and strengthen avenues to award credit for prior learning
        • Dismantle college-in-prison programs that do not accept credits for prior learning
        • Award credit though Prior Learning Assessments (PLA)
          • Using PLAs in prisons have shortened the average degree completion time and resulted in a 43 percent graduation rate compared to 15 percent in programs not using PLAs
        • PLA Considerations:
          • Waive prerequisites that would normally increase time-to-degree completion
          • Use PLA credits to meet general education and program/major requirements
          • Fund programs that award credit for prior learning

Authors of the framework hope that by better serving minority populations in prison, previous practices that have historically only benefited the privileged will be upended.

 

NACAC Research Associate Cameron Hair welcomes comments and story ideas at chair@nacacnet.org

Daily updates on NACAC and the world of college admission counseling. For more information about NACAC, visit nacacnet.org.