A New Perspective

Photo courtesy of Tara Miller

I always opt for the window seat. Where else do you get the chance to expand your view of the world, only as the roads, trees, and buildings become smaller? When I fly, that time looking out the window is often when I reflect. It’s also when a song on my playlist might make me cry. Seems to happen more often miles above the earth. Not sure if it’s the cabin air, or the fact that this vantage point allows me time to really listen and hear. These moments of reflection often bring about new ideas.

This pandemic has been a time to reflect as well. It has been hard, and at first, I found myself struggling to manage it all. The emails tripled, the online meetings quadrupled, and the workday seemed longer. Work-life balance was, well…out of balance. I have since found a rhythm and cadence to my days. The space and time allowed me to see the work from a different perspective.

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Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Racism and College Admission

By: Lawrence Q. Alexander II

Nov. 1…For some, it’s just another day, but for those of us in college admission, it marks the anniversary of our “first date”—the day when Early Decision and Early Action applications have typically been due and that our work with seniors coalesces.

We recall preaching to them during the spring of their junior year about the importance of starting early and working on their college applications throughout the summer. We replay the melodious songs we sang to our faculty and colleagues about the impact of their letters of recommendation. We also experience pardonable pride as we lead our school community to a date on the calendar that at one time seemed so very far away. We think about the students and families we’ve counseled, the admission colleagues we’ve conversed with, and the floorboards we’ve confessed our frustrations to. And historically, we feel a range of emotions, from excitement to fear to anxiety to relief to sheer exhaustion.

Yet this year, with a global pandemic and the demand for racial equity and justice looming over our anniversary celebration, many of my colleagues and I experienced another emotion on Nov. 1—rage. And as COVID-19 and Racism 2020 tear through our world, they also pervade our profession, prompting a cascading list of uncomfortable yet unavoidable questions.

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Addressing Bias in Hiring: Lessons for Enrollment Management Leaders

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When I started my career in 2003, I would have been hard-pressed to think that bias existed in the enrollment management profession. After all, doesn’t every college talk about how much they want to diversify their student body? Or how they want to be a more inclusive and accepting community? Campuses seek out students from a spectrum of backgrounds—low socioeconomic status, full-pay, LGBTQ, rural, urban, suburban, international, athletes, residents of certain states…the list is quite exhaustive. And it stands to reason that hiring practices within the profession would follow the same philosophy, right?

Unfortunately, since my last position on a college campus, which ended April 2019, I have witnessed a deep and disturbing pattern whereby hiring managers rarely view the marketing, recruiting, enrollment, and retention skills cultivated by individuals in the community college sector as on par with skills cultivated at four-year institutions.

I view this as an incidence of classism in higher education. Ultimately, it hurts qualified candidates and harms institutions that could benefit from the skills, experiences, and unique perspectives that community college professionals bring to the table.

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Students Discuss Inclusion and Diversity in Higher Ed

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By: Amber M. Briggs with Maria Guadalupe Romo-González and Will Walker

Author’s Note: The student perspectives shared below are representative of their unique experiences in higher education. We acknowledge there may be experiences that are missing from this conversation and encourage higher education leaders to continually seek out their own students’ perspectives and thoughtfully engage them in their decision-making process.

This summer, the Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA) had planned to bring a group of students to NACAC’s Guiding the Way to Inclusion conference to discuss their experiences in higher education and share their thoughts on what higher ed professionals can do to foster inclusion and diversity.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus crisis prompted NACAC to cancel the in-person event and instead move the conference online,

Although our panel was unable to participate in the virtual event, we know the topics of inclusion and diversity are more important than ever given the racial injustices and challenges of COVID-19 that students are facing. And with the help of two LEDA Scholars, we hope to begin that conversation on NACAC’s Admitted blog.

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Enrollment Management: Lessons on Leadership

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By: Shelley Arakawa, Amy Crutchfield, Robin Mamlet, and Lisa Meyer

What leader doesn’t feel unsure of their abilities during 2020? There certainly is no historic data to draw on when making decisions, and every decision seems crucial to the health of one’s team and the institution.

To help admission professionals navigate these unprecedented times, WittKieffer, a global search firm and NACAC member, was honored to partner with some of the country’s leading enrollment and higher education experts through our Summer Speaker Series, a course of four webinars focused on enrollment leadership.

One takeaway? Strong leadership matters, now more than ever.

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Senate Committee Makes Push for Further FAFSA Simplification

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Applying for financial aid can be a complicated task that requires significant time and effort for students and their families. According to recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, although 65 percent of students who were high school freshmen in 2009 ultimately reported completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), 24 percent did not. Those who did not submit a FAFSA cited lack of awareness, lack of understanding of FAFSA requirements, and lack of time as barriers to completion.

On Sept. 17, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing titled “Time to Finish Fixing the FAFSA.” Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and ranking member Patty Murray (D-WA) have both sponsored FAFSA simplification legislation.

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#NACAC20: Pandemic Spurs Changes in Higher Ed

In times of great crisis, America has depended on higher education to help bring stability to the nation. The Morrill Act of 1862, which established land grant colleges, was enacted during the Civil War. Decades later, Congress passed the G.I. Bill to assist World War II servicemen.

A panel of US college presidents told attendees at this week’s 2020 NACAC Virtual Conference that universities can play a similar role amid the coronavirus crisis. But colleges must adapt, and state and federal dollars are necessary to reach all those in need of support.

“In every moment of great strife and challenge in our nation…America leaned back into educating its citizens and used higher education as a force for good and a force for change,” said Daniel G. Lugo, president of Queens University of Charlotte (NC). “It is important that we not cede ground on what is right about us because, if we do that, we’ll never ever, ever get state governments or the federal government to think of us as a place to make more equitable investments.”

“…We do need to improve, we do need to be more self-conscious and aware,” Lugo added during the discussion, which was moderated by education journalist and author Jeff Selingo. “But too often we cede ground on how good we actually are.”

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#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 2020 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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