College Access & Admissions

Overview

College Access & Admissions

College access and college admissions are closely related, essentially the two sides of the gateway that determines who can enroll in (and ultimately complete) a college education. On a very basic level, college access refers to the preparatory work that must be done in order for a student to knock on a college’s door with the genuine possibility of being let in and being able to earn a degree. College admissions—at least from the standpoint of admissions officers who work at postsecondary institutions—is about how best to evaluate whether to let that student in.

College access and college admissions are closely related, essentially the two sides of the gateway that determines who can enroll in (and ultimately complete) a college education. On a very basic level, college access refers to the preparatory work that must be done in order for a student to knock on a college’s door with the genuine possibility of being let in and being able to earn a degree. College admissions—at least from the standpoint of admissions officers who work at postsecondary institutions—is about how best to evaluate whether to let that student in.

With a growing emphasis on college and career readiness, coupled with ongoing national efforts to increase dramatically the number of people in the United States who hold a postsecondary credential or degree, issues of college access and college admissions are bound to gain more attention and scrutiny in the coming years. This Topics section offers key reports, articles and other resources that examine the issues that affect the process through which students matriculate in higher education.

Of course, there are high degrees of variability in both the criteria different colleges use to select the students they enroll and the backgrounds and preparation of those students who are applying.

Underserved Students

Efforts to improve college access primarily focus on the student groups that the postsecondary community often refers to as “underserved.” This term includes first-generation college students; students from racial groups that have been “historically underrepresented” in higher education such as African-Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans; students from low-income households; and immigrant students or the children of immigrants. College access organizations also often work with students in foster care. In recent times, some college access organizations have expanded their work beyond serving just traditional high school-age students and have begun to work with adults and GED-earners.

For many of the students in these groups, the process of applying to college—and the pursuit of a degree—involve layers of decisions that they might be the first in their households to make. The National College Access Network, a Washington, D.C.-based association that serves as an umbrella group for organizations that help students plan for college, emphasizes three components it deems essential for these students to gain access to higher education: “plan, prepare and pay for college.” Planning and preparing involve students’ taking and completing the proper secondary school coursework to be capable of entry-level college courses, or “college ready” as this status is called by educators, advocates and policymakers. Even then, some students struggle in higher education. Remediation rates among college students are high, a circumstance that challenges the students placed in such courses and the colleges in which they are enrolled: Only 30 percent of students who take one remedial reading course go on to earn a degree within eight years, according to some studies.

The “planning” component of college access also involves helping students navigate the processes of selecting colleges to apply to and completing those applications. Some college access programs offer counselors to help students make these choices. Others offer more than just advice: Some offer academic preparation, such as SAT prep classes and tutoring. These tests can be a critical part of the college access equation because the students who tend to be underrepresented at colleges and universities often are the same students whose scores on these admissions tests are less competitive. Some college access programs even offer scholarships and internships.

Another key aspect of efforts to improve disadvantaged students’ access to higher education is financial aid. Some college access programs focus on counseling students about financial aid, both what it is and how to apply for it. This includes helping students understand and fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) but it can also include helping students decide which financial aid packages or offers from a particular college are best for a particular student and family, based on factors that range from the student’s career aims to his or her family’s ability to pay.

In recent years, the rise of “merit aid” has become a central aspect of discussions of financial aid and college access. To attract the students they most want to enroll, many colleges offer these students scholarships and grants—referred to as merit aid—regardless of their actual financial need. Critics of this practice argue that those funds would be more effectively used to improve access for low-income or otherwise underrepresented students.

College Admissions

While college access work is generally done on behalf of students who are still in high school as they prepare to apply for college, the work of college admissions—at least among college admissions officers at colleges and universities—involves making the actual decisions about admittance, financial aid and scholarship awards. For college admissions officers, the key question is how best to determine which students are most academically prepared for their college. A secondary question considered by selective universities is which students are the “best fit” for their campus, meaning which ones will be able to make contributions—both inside and outside of the classroom—that will enrich the overall learning experience for everyone.

When it comes to determining the academic readiness of students, admissions officers rely on tests such as the SAT, the ACT, Advanced Placement (AP) tests, and International Baccalaureate (IB) credentials (both subject tests and the diploma), to offset perceived grade inflation or other ambiguities in the high school transcripts of applicants. On the other end of the spectrum, however, there also is a trend of colleges’ making the SAT or ACT an optional part of their application process. Some of the colleges that have made this decision—including Wake Forest University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute—cite that second aspect of the college admissions process—“best fit” —as a reason for dropping the requirement, given that students from underserved groups generally score lower on these tests.

The best fit question also plays a role in perhaps the most contentious issue in the college admissions debate, affirmative action, the practice a giving preference to applicants from a particular demographic group. The controversial subject has divided college campuses for decades, with arguments questioning the preferences given to students ranging from disadvantaged minorities to the children of wealthy alumni. In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that universities could take race into consideration when making admissions decisions. That Supreme Court decision, however, is scheduled to be reconsidered in the fall of 2012. This ruling could have a substantial impact for college access and admissions, as national demographics show rising percentages of exact types of students who traditionally been underserved in higher education. 

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

The Guidance Gap: How to Rethink School Counseling
Experts discuss how to effectively steer a student to, through life after high school

One of Joyce Brown’s former students was getting ready to board a bus to college for the first time when he changed his mind. 

“His mom said, ‘Don’t go if you don’t want to,’” Brown recalled. So the student, who grew up in the Robert Taylor Homes housing project on Chicago’s South Side, didn’t go.

But Brown — who spent 40 years working as a school counselor in Chicago Public Schools — knew this student would thrive in a college setting because of the relationship she’d built with him. So she drove him to college herself.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Word on the Beat: Public Charge

This summer, the Trump Administration proposed changes to the rules governing how immigrants qualify for legal permanent status in the U.S., commonly known as a “green card.” The plan to deny green cards to anyone who is, or could be, a “public charge” is impacting schools and students at all levels of the educational system.

Latest News

New Paper Examines Why Intergenerational Immobility Resurfaces When Looking at Advanced Degree Holders

Higher education is the great equalizer. Correction: a bachelor’s degree is the great equalizer. Graduate and professional degrees? Not so much, according to a forthcoming study in Social Science Research that seeks to explain why intergenerational mobility is high for college graduates but lower among advanced degree holders.

Latest News

Struggling With Perceived Isolation, Many First-Gen College Students Face Mental Health Problems

Growing up poor outside Detroit in Dearborn Heights, Tanner Bonner worked at a sandwich shop part-time during the school year and full-time during the summer to help support his family.

His mom is unemployed, while his dad has been on disability since hurting his back cleaning carpets.

His senior year of high school, Bonner earned a perfect score on the ACT and won a national scholarship for students whose families earn, on average, less than $13,000 each year. He was accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and started classes there last fall.

Latest News

Divorce? Marry Off Your Kid? As Financial Aid Confusion Grows, Parents Consider Drastic Measures

If there’s one thing more frustrating than trying to get into the right college, it might be paying for the degree. That’s what thousands of parents discover daily while discussing how to foot the bill.

In online communities like Facebook and Reddit, some parents share standard suggestions like saving more money or choosing a less-expensive state school.

Others are proposing more drastic measures.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

How Technology Is Reshaping the Modern College Classroom
The good and bad of online classes, AI in grading and accessibility

Technological innovation, which has upended everything from the way we order lunch to how we find a life partner, is also revolutionizing education. Optical character recognition devices, artificial intelligence grading programs and powerful computers are profoundly remaking what goes on inside traditional college classrooms. In addition, about a third of college students are taking at least one course online. 

Latest News

America Draws Students From Around the World. Its Gun Culture Is Pushing Them Away.

A survey of about 2,000 current international students and recent graduates of American colleges by World Education Services, a nonprofit international-education research company, found that nearly two in five are worried about gun violence. This spring, the Chinese government even warned students and other travelers about the risks of going to the United States.

Latest News

Study Finds Fewer Foreign Undergraduates in U.S. Colleges — The First Drop In 13 Years

The foreign undergraduate head count in U.S. colleges and universities fell about 2 percent in the last school year, the first annual decline on that measure in more than a decade, according to a study.

The report from the Institute of International Education, funded by the State Department and made public Monday, suggests challenges for the United States as it seeks to maintain dominance in global higher education.

Key Coverage

Early Action? Early Decision? An Explanation of Looming College Admission Deadlines

Last week brought the first early decision deadlines for high school seniors applying to college — and also a lot of potential questions: Just what is early decision and how does it differ from early action? Have college admissions changed since the “Varsity Blues” scandal broke earlier this year? How do college admissions officers view Vermont’s new proficiency-based grading systems? What are the admissions options at Vermont colleges and universities?

Key Coverage

As Detroit Students Settle Into Their First Semester of College, ‘Bridge’ Programs Provide Needed Support

But still, despite excelling in her other classes, Marqell McClendon has struggled in the remedial math class she’s taking during her first semester at Michigan State University.

It’s an unfamiliar scene for McClendon, the valedictorian of her graduating class at Detroit’s Cody High School who’s used to students coming to her for help. Now, the tables are turned. She describes it as “bittersweet.”

Latest News

Poll: Many Youths Say High School Diploma Is Enough

Although most young Americans believe in the value of higher education, many still consider a high school diploma alone to be enough for success, according to a survey of teens and young adults by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Latest News

For Sale: SAT-Takers’ Names. Colleges Buy Student Data and Boost Exclusivity

Colleges rise in national rankings and reputation when they show data suggesting they are more selective. They can do that by rejecting more applicants, whether or not those candidates ever stood a chance. Some applicants, in effect, become unknowing pawns.

Feeding this dynamic is the College Board, the New York nonprofit that owns the SAT, a test designed to level the college-admissions playing field.

The board is using the SAT as the foundation for another business: selling test-takers’ names and personal information to universities.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Colleges Struggle to Adapt to Changing Demographics
More diverse student body poses challenges in admissions, teaching and counseling

Quick: Picture a “typical” college student. Are you envisioning a young person wearing a college sweatshirt, living in a dorm and attending school full time? 

Try again: Full-time students who live on campus account for less than 15 percent of all undergraduates, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

At a recent Education Writers Association seminar, three experts on student demographics suggested that investigations into changes to the makeup of the nation’s undergraduate student body can spark fresh and impactful stories. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Soft Skills Training Teaches Electricians to Fix Fuses, Not Blow Them
Community colleges award budding trades workers badges in empathy

Sure, a plumber should be able to stop a leak or fix a toilet. Those job skills are essential, and easily measured.

But what about the rest of the equation — the people skills customers also want? How does an employer really know if an applicant has what it takes? Can’t there be a test or something?

Key Coverage

Promises Kept: How a Scholarship Program Is Serving as a Model for Community Change
Cory McCoy

A city of just 5,500 residents in East Texas might not be the first place people would think of when looking to pilot a program that could change the college landscape, but it’s happening in Rusk.

When the Rusk promise launched in 2014, it was the first community promise initiative in the state. In just five years, the results already are creating change in the community.

Key Coverage

An Unseen Victim of the College Admissions Scandal: The High School Tennis Champion Aced Out by a Billionaire Family

On a Monday morning in April 2017, students at Sage Hill School gathered in its artificial-turf quadrangle, known as the Town Square, to celebrate seniors who were heading to college as recruited athletes. The 10 honorees lined up behind an archway adorned with balloons. One by one, they stepped forward as their sports and destinations were announced. Patricia Merz, the head of the private high school in Newport Coast, California, placed a lei in the appropriate college’s colors around each student’s neck.

EWA Radio

Paul Tough on Why College Years ‘Matter Most’
New book offers deep dive into social mobility, inequality in higher education
(EWA Radio: Episode 218)

In his new book, “The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes Us or Breaks Us,” author Paul Tough looks at inequities in access to high-quality higher education, specifically, the opportunity to earn degrees that research says lead to high-paying jobs, social mobility, and according to some research, better health and a longer life.

Seminar

Education and the American Dream: Pathways From High School to College and Careers
Northwestern University • November 14-15, 2019

What will it take to make the U.S. education system a more powerful engine for economic mobility? What are the obstacles, especially for low-income families and students of color?

At this journalists-only seminar on Nov. 14-15 in Chicago, we will explore these and other questions, with a special focus on emerging efforts to create stronger pathways from high school to college and promising careers.

Latest News

Chicago High Schools Going From ‘College Prep’ To ‘Early College’

In Chicago, the proliferation of college classes in high schools is new. Since 2014, the number of students taking classes through City Colleges at their high school has tripled, from 1,055 in 2013-2014 to 3,655 in 2017-2018. And Chicago Public Schools data released last week shows almost 15% of 2019 graduates had earned at least one college credit through a class at their high school, up from about 5% in 2014.

Latest News

What College Admissions Offices Really Want

In the fall of 2014, Angel Pérez was hired to oversee enrollment at Trinity College, a small liberal-arts school that occupies a picturesque 100-acre hillside campus overlooking Hartford. Trinity is in many ways a typical private northeastern college. It was founded by a group of Episcopalians in the early 19th century, and its student body has been dominated ever since by white, wealthy graduates of New England prep schools.

Key Coverage

Students Have an Uphill Battle to Degrees, But Montana Educators Push for Success

At Helena College, a 26-year-old student raising her daughter alone schedules class around her job at a grocery store. Stephanie Heitman’s paychecks were going toward unpaid medical bills until her small college helped with a grant.

When Tristin Bullshoe landed at the University of Montana after growing up in Browning, he struggled to pursue his dream of being a doctor. He landed in a college lecture hall with 300 people after graduating high school with a class of 12, and the Blackfeet student faced culture shock.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Redrawing the Map for Student Success

When Baltimore City Public Schools placed current education data on a map of the city’s historic racial redlining, it was apparent that not much had changed, as district CEO Sonja Brookins Santelises tells the story. The segregated neighborhoods created in part by policies that barred predominantly black communities from federally subsidized mortgages were the same neighborhoods that today showed lower academic outcomes.

Santelises said those findings motivated her district to take a closer look at what kind of opportunities it provides students.

EWA Radio

Can a State Help More Residents Finish College?
With 75 percent of the state’s jobs requiring postsecondary credentials, Colorado looks to boost college and career training
(EWA Radio: Episode 213)

Like many states, Colorado has set an ambitious goal for boosting the number of citizens with advanced degrees and credentials, all with an eye toward filling high-need jobs in areas like health care and manufacturing. In a five-part series, EWA Reporting Fellow Stephanie Daniel of KUNC (Northern Colorado Community Radio) looks at how the Rocky Mountain state is trying to do that:

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Word on the Beat: Adversity Score
What reporters need to know about the College Board's experimental "Environmental Context Dashboard"

The question of which students should win admission to selective colleges is so heated that it has sparked state legislation, discrimination lawsuits and a celebrity-studded bribery scandal. So news that the College Board had been providing admissions officers data on the kind of “adversity” to which applicants had been exposed couldn’t help but stir controversy.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

College Board Explains ‘Environmental Context Dashboard’
In this on-the-record interview, David Coleman objects to the term "adversity score."

In the midst of legal and political battles over preferences given to different kinds of college applicants, news broke that the College Board has been experimenting with providing college admissions officers with what some have called an “adversity score” for each applicant to, potentially, give admissions boosts to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Covering How ‘Varsity Blues’ Affects College Admissions
Experts suggest following up with investigations into large inequities and sports recruiting.

The “Varsity Blues” scandal involved a small group of wealthy families using bribes and other tactics to gain admissions to selective colleges. But it also illuminated broader admissions problems – particularly those involving income disparities – that should be examined by education reporters, according to experts who spoke at the 2019 Education Writers Association seminar in Baltimore.

Finalist

A College Degree More Than 15 Years in the Making
The Edwin Gould Foundation Eddie Prize

Entry Credit

  • Casey Parks, The New Yorker

About the Entry

This article for The New Yorker offers a searing portrait of Dorian Ford, a single mother determined to graduate from Grambling State University, even as the historically black college faces its own institutional challenges. The piece also looks at underlying factors, including institutional racism and the impact of the economic recession on Ford’s life decisions and opportunities.

EWA Radio

‘Operation Varsity Blues’: The Real Story Isn’t the Admissions Scandal.
How federal investigation of ‘side doors’ into elite colleges sheds light on larger inequities for underserved students
(EWA Radio: Episode 202)

Nearly 50 people, including 33 parents, have been indicted in what the U.S. Department of Justice is calling its largest-ever fraud investigation in college admissions. Looking beyond the celebrity-driven headlines on bribery and fraud allegations, how can education reporters seize the moment to examine the underlying societal and institutional factors that fuel admissions inequities in postsecondary admissions?

Webinar

Stories You’re Missing on Transfer Students

Stories You’re Missing on Transfer Students

More than 3.7 million college students—accounting for more than a third of the nation’s undergraduate student body—are expected to transfer this year. As the end of the semester approaches, many students will be facing spring deadlines to make the jump from campus to campus.

This EWA webinar offers the opportunity to learn about one of the most under-covered—but important and timely—aspects of college admissions.

Key Coverage

From Prison To College: How A Formerly Incarcerated Student Overcame The Odds To Graduate

Like many people coming out of prison, Perry Cline never thought he’d get a college degree.

Cline, a 51-year-old black man and Chicago native, just graduated from college. He has a bachelor’s degree in social work. He also co-founded a non-profit to help those battling addiction, and he recently landed a job as a case manager at a substance abuse treatment facility in Champaign, Illinois.

Key Coverage

Why Illinois Won’t ‘Ban The Box’ On College Applications

Next year, the Common Application used by hundreds of colleges and universities will stop asking potential students about their criminal histories. Despite legislative efforts in Illinois, most campuses in the state continue to ask the question. Nationwide, roughly two-thirds of colleges and universities that completed a 2009 survey reported asking prospective students about their criminal histories.

Key Coverage

Far From Home: Different Stories, With Common Threads

On a bulletin board at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, a flier advertised a storytelling event for first-generation students to share their experience in their own words.

The event was part of a larger project headed by Senior Associate Dean of Students Luis Inoa. Inoa spent the summer working with a first-gen Skidmore student to research the best practices in first-gen student support at liberal arts colleges around the country. He discovered that storytelling, in particular, is very powerful.

Key Coverage

Far From Home: Demystifying the College Experience

On a sunny Saturday in October, about 500 prospective students and their families gathered on the campus of the University of Texas at El Paso for Orange and Blue Day. They met with representatives from financial aid, admissions, and various academic departments in a festival-like atmosphere spread across campus.

The university uses events like this to make college more inviting for families sending their first-ever student to college.

Key Coverage

Rally Had Minor Impact on Admissions as UVa Addresses Financial Needs and Its Own History

The University of Virginia can seem like a textbook college campus: white columns and porticos, long lawns and statues of Thomas Jefferson and Homer.

In 2017, though, UVa’s Rotunda steps were transformed into a maelstrom as white supremacists carried torches and attacked protesters. For months, the school was roiled by protests and political soul-searching.

Seminar

72nd EWA National Seminar
Baltimore • May 6-8, 2019

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. This year’s event in Baltimore, hosted by Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education, will explore an array of timely topics of interest to journalists from across the country, with a thematic focus on student success, safety, and well-being.

Key Coverage

New data show some colleges are definitively unaffordable for many
Even as net prices begin to fall at some schools, many families are priced out

By most measures, Aboubacar Konate was an outstanding candidate for college.

Konate graduated second in his class from The English High School in Boston with a 4.5 grade-point average. He was on the student council and debate team, took Advanced Placement classes in history and chemistry, speaks four languages, worked a corporate internship and played three sports: soccer, basketball and track.

Key Coverage

Far From Home: Issues Facing First-Gen College Students

Every year, first-generation students across the country step onto college and university campuses that are different from their hometown in every way. Even for those financially and academically prepared, social and emotional challenges can influence their ability to stay and graduate.

This is the first of a four-part special report, “Far From Home.”

EWA Radio

Higher Ed ‘Deserts’: Who Lives in Them, and Why it Matters
For millions of would-be college students, convenient and affordable degree programs are out of reach
(EWA Radio: Episode 179)

About seven in 10 undergraduates are “nontraditional” students, according to the U.S. Department of Education, meaning they delayed starting college, have a job or children, or are attending part-time. Meanwhile,, millions of would-be college students live in what some have dubbed higher ed “deserts” without easy or affordable access to postsecondary education.

Seminar

Higher Education Seminar Fall 2018
Las Vegas • UNLV • September 24-25, 2018

The Education Writers Association will hold its 2018 Higher Education Seminar Sept. 24-25 on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The theme of this year’s intensive training event for journalists will be “Navigating Rapid Change.” This journalist-only event will offer two days of high-impact learning opportunities. The seminar will focus on how both postsecondary education and journalism are adjusting to an increasingly divisive political environment, the decline of traditional revenue sources, and continuing technological innovations that are upending much of the economy.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Top Higher Ed Stories for the 2018-19 Academic Year
Politics is driving some of the hottest news stories on college campuses.

Some of the most pressing higher education stories for the next academic year will spring from the intersection of education and politics, predicts Scott Jaschik, the editor of Inside Higher Ed.

Jaschik reprised his always-popular rundown of the top higher education story ideas during the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar in May.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Hispanic, Latino, Latinx: How to Cover the Fastest-Growing Student Group

Hispanic students, who make up the second largest racial demographic in schools today, are entering college in record numbers. But they are also dropping out of college at a far higher rate than white students. That reality has important implications for our educational and economic systems and the reporters who cover them, according to a group of researchers and experts gathered at the 2018 Education Writers Association National Seminar.

Seminar

Beyond the Numbers: Getting the Story on Latino Education
The Fifth Annual EWA Conference for Spanish-Language Media

image of Miami, Fla.

The Education Writers Association is pleased to partner with NAHJ to offer a 1½-day institute on covering education at the NAHJ National Conference in Miami. The July 20-21 education coverage bootcamp, which will be held in Spanish,  will feature some of the most important and influential researchers and educational leaders in the field of Latino education. They will help journalists gain a better understanding of the education issues affecting Latino students in the U.S., such as the impacts of school choice, teacher demographics, and student loans. You’ll also get training on data sources that can help you buttress or generate  education stories.

Finalist

The Redemption and Rejection of Michelle Jones
Single-Topic News or Feature: General News Outlets, Print and Online (Large Staff)

2017 EWA Award Finalist Banner image

About the Entry

This profile by The Marshall Project for The New York Times explores how universities weighed an aspiring scholar’s potential against her past, raising questions about attitudes toward ex-inmates who have served their time. 

Entry Credit

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Word on the Beat: DACA

All eyes are on the U.S. Supreme Court as it weighs whether to preserve an Obama-era program that protected undocumented youth and young adults from deportation. In this installment of Word on the Beat, we examine the history of the DACA program, its legacy, and the significant implications the pending legal ruling could have on students, families and schools from K-12 through higher education.

Word on the Beat: DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

Seminar

71st EWA National Seminar
Los Angeles • May 16-18, 2018

EWA 71st National Seminar Los Angeles graphic

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. This multiday conference provides participants with top-notch training delivered through dozens of interactive sessions on covering education from early childhood through graduate school. Featuring prominent speakers, engaging campus visits, and plentiful networking opportunities, this must-attend conference provides participants with deeper understanding of the latest developments in education, a lengthy list of story ideas, and a toolbox of sharpened journalistic skills.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Getting Latino Students To and Through College

Michele Siqueiros recalled the day she arrived on a college campus.

“I thought I had arrived on another planet,” she told a recent gathering of journalists who attended the Education Writers Association’s fourth annual convening for Spanish-language media. “There were very few Latinos.”

Siqueiros, now the president of The Campaign for College Opportunity, a California nonprofit organization, said she was a straight A student in high school, but in college “I felt for the first time I wasn’t prepared.”

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Do Affirmative Action Policies Harm Asian-American College Admissions?

The often secretive and arbitrary-seeming acceptance and rejection decisions by elite colleges have long sparked controversy and, thus, news stories.

But new complaints by high-achieving students of Asian descent are raising questions about a kind of racism that may well be surprising to most Americans, as well as challenges to long-standing affirmative action policies, according to a panel of admissions experts who spoke at the Education Writers Association’s Higher Education conference Oct. 2-3.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Covering the New Reality of Adult Learners at College
Non-traditional students account for almost half of undergraduates.

In the last year, newspapers published more than 100 stories focused on admissions to Harvard University, an institution with fewer than 7,000 undergraduates.

Meanwhile, a Nexis search over the same time period turns up fewer than 50 articles using the phrase “adult undergraduates.” The U.S. has 7.6 million undergraduates aged at least 22 - more than 1,000 times Harvard’s enrollment. These older students account for fully 44 percent of the population on the nation’s college campuses.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Nine of the Hottest Stories on the Higher Ed Beat This Year

Campus racial conflicts, sports corruption scandals, and a new partisan divide over the perceived benefits of college are among the biggest potential storylines for journalists covering higher education these days, according to Inside Higher Ed co-founder and editor Scott Jaschik.

Seminar

Higher Ed 2017: Covering Campus Conflict in the Time of Trump
Atlanta • October 2–3, 2017

From heated debates over free speech to the Trump administration’s threats to deport undocumented students, these are tense times on college campuses. For reporters who cover higher education, questions abound and important stories need to be told. 

On Oct. 2-3, EWA will bring together journalists at Georgia State University in Atlanta to explore pressing issues in education after high school. (Here’s the preliminary agenda.) At this journalist-only seminar you will hear:

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Trump Urged to Renew Advisory Panel on Improving Education for Hispanics

For nearly three decades, a White House commission created to help boost Hispanic student achievement has advised four presidents and their secretaries of education. The advisory panel, however, is set to expire on Sept. 30 unless President Donald Trump issues an executive order to keep it going, according to Patricia Gándara, a commission member who is rallying to preserve it.

Agenda

Covering Campus Conflict in the Time of Trump: Agenda
Atlanta • October 2–3, 2017

Monday, October 2, 2017

9:45– 11:30 a.m.: (Optional) Journalists’ Tour of CNN

CNN has graciously agreed to give 20 EWA members a journalists-only tour of their newsroom, and a chance to talk with members of CNN’s newsgathering, digital and data analysis teams to learn about their state-of-the art techniques of building traffic. The tour will start at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 2 at CNN’s Atlanta headquarters, located at One CNN Center, Atlanta, GA 30303. Please be at the entryway at 9:45 a.m. so you can go through security.

EWA Radio

The End of DACA?
EWA Radio: Episode 138

With the Trump administration’s announcement of plans to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), a key focus is on college students who fear deportation. But ending DACA, which offers protections to roughly 800,000 immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children, has significant repercussions for K-12 school communities as well.  

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Hispanics Now Nearly One-Quarter of U.S. Students, Data Reveal

New U.S. Census data show a dramatic increase in the number of Hispanics attending school, reaching nearly 18 million in 2016. The figure — which covers education at all levels — is double the total 20 years earlier.

“Hispanic students now make up 22.7 percent of all people enrolled in school,” said Kurt Bauman, the chief of Census Bureau’s Education and Social Stratification Branch, in a statement.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

NSF Grant Fuels Efforts to Boost Latinos in STEM Fields

As part of an effort to boost the number of Latinos graduating with degrees in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math — four universities will use a new federal grant to bring together experts closest to the issue to examine the challenges and brainstorm successful strategies.  

The National Science Foundation has awarded the University of California at Irvine, the University of Arizona, the University of Houston and Nova Southeastern University in Florida each $100,000 to host the conferences.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

More Efforts Proposed in Congress to Help Undocumented Youth

"Interviewing DREAMers" panel at EWA's 2016 National Seminar in Boston

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — or DACA — continues to make headlines, with several bills introduced in Congress this month aimed at protecting undocumented young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and providing them with a path to citizenship.

DACA provides recipients access to higher education, putting educators on the front lines of the debate over undocumented youth. Many colleges and universities have created special websites or designated personnel to help DACA students navigate college and feel safe on campus.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Troubled by College Dropouts, High Schools Track Students Beyond Graduation

While many high schools focus a lot of energy on getting students into college, admissions is only the first step. And especially when it comes to low-income students and those who are first in their family to attend college, many drop out long before they complete a degree.

Growing concern about this problem is sparking efforts in the K-12 realm to ensure better college success rates for high school graduates.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Community College Challenges Explored at Civil Rights Conference

The ongoing issues Latino students face in community colleges was the focus of a town hall meeting held earlier this month Phoenix, Arizona, during the annual conference this week of the largest Latino civil right organization in the U.S.

While more Hispanic students are graduating high school and enrolling in college, many still need remediation or are taking longer than the standard two years to earn an associate’s degree.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

New ‘Gates Scholarship’ to Offer Full Ride to 300 Students of Color

Starting July 15, high school seniors who are Hispanic, from low-income backgrounds and believe they have strong leadership credentials can apply for a private scholarship to cover virtually all college expenses.

Launched this year, the new program from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will award its first full scholarships to 300 students in 2018. The support will include not just tuition, but also cover fees, housing, books and other costs.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

College Admissions: The V.I.P. Treatment
Do students from wealthy or politically connected families get preference in the admissions process?

The wealthy and politically connected have many advantages in life. But do they really have an edge getting into the best colleges?

Some impressive investigative work by two journalists in Texas and Virginia reveals that family money and influence appear to have helped students get into at least two top public universities.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

From ‘Sugar Daddies’ to College Mailboxes: Reporters Share ‘How I Did the Story’

Nick Anderson didn’t have to be asked twice to get on a train to New York City.

A professor at Columbia University called the veteran Washington Post reporter last summer. She told him she had spoken with students who were making ends meet by engaging in the sex trade, hooking up with older men on “sugar daddy” websites.

“She asked me, ‘Would you be interested in writing about something like this?’” Anderson relayed to a room full of journalists who had assembled for a session at the Education Writers Association’s annual spring conference.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Does Going to a Hispanic-Serving Institution Affect How Much Graduates Earn?

As the number of Hispanic students enrolled in college has increased so has the discussion of the roles of the institutions that are educating them. 

A large portion of Hispanic students are concentrated in a small number of colleges, which are called Hispanic-serving institutions or HSIs, in a few key states. By federal definition, these are two- and four-year colleges and universities that are accredited, grant degrees, and whose full-time-equivalent undergraduate enrollment is at least 25 percent Hispanic.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Higher Education Reaches Out to Rural Students

They could be considered the new minority student. Difficult to find, harder to enroll, but offering a perspective that moved to the forefront in the last presidential campaign. The small-town American who grows up to work a blue-collar job, who often feels ignored by a political climate that seems to cater more to the coastal middle class, has drawn more attention over the past year.

EWA Radio

Go West, Young Students: California’s Free Community College Boom
EWA Radio: Episode 114

Ashley Smith of Inside Higher Ed discusses why the Golden State is leading the nation in free community college initiatives. Currently, a quarter of all such programs nationally are located at California institutions. The growth is a mix of grassroots efforts by individual campuses, cities, and community organizations. At the same time, California’s Democratic lawmakers are pushing for a statewide effort to add even more free seats at two-year colleges.

EWA Radio

Under Trump, DREAMers Face Uncertain Future
EWA Radio: Episode 108

Best-selling author Dale Russakoff discusses her profile of Indira, an undocumented college student, in this week’s cover story for The New York Times Magazine. Indira, who was granted legal status under the Deferred Act for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, now fears that President Trump’s revisions to immigration policy will derail not just her college plans, but her ability to stay in the country she calls home. Why is Delaware State University, a historically black college, recruiting students like Indira, and how does that factor into discussions about equity and opportunity? How likely is it that Trump will seek to overturn DACA?

Report

As Cuomo Proposal Rekindles Free College Movement, New Research Provides Ammunition for Skeptics
Brookings Institution

In early January, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York announced his intention to make a public college education tuition-free for most students in the state. The proposal has breathed life back into the free college movement, which supporters feared would lose momentum under the incoming presidential administration. Instead, momentum has simply relocated (back) to the state level. Tennessee and Oregon already have their own “free college” initiatives, and just this week, Governor Gina Raimondo proposed a version for Rhode Island.

EWA Radio

‘The Book of Isaias’: A Memphis DREAMer’s Uncertain Path
EWA Radio: Episode 106

Journalist Daniel Connolly spent a year embedded at a Memphis high school to learn first-hand about the educational experiences of Hispanic immigrants’ children. Connolly’s new book focuses on star student Isaias Ramos, “the hope of Kingsbury High.” The author explores how Isaias, born in the U.S., seeks to overcome obstacles to his plans for college. How did Connolly (The Memphis Commercial Appeal) gain such extraordinary access to the students, educators, and families of this school community? What does Isaias’ journey tell us about the hopes and aspirations of Hispanic immigrant families? And how are real world realities pressuring public schools to redefine expectations for student success?

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Wealthier Grad Students Earn the Most Lucrative Degrees

More Americans are pursuing graduate degrees, but it’s the students from wealthier backgrounds who are most likely to earn the degrees that pay the most, a new report shows.

“I think that the idea that people from low-income backgrounds are so unlikely ever to get to medical school or law school is definitely a problem,” said Sandy Baum, a renowned scholar on the economics of higher education and a co-writer of the report.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Who Benefits from New York’s Free College Plan?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to make tuition free year at New York’s public colleges and universities for students from families earning less than $125,000 is being touted as a shot across the progressive bow. As the new Congress and White House tout a conservative agenda, the governor is offering a playbook that states could use to capitalize on the liberal currents that crisscrossed the Democratic presidential primaries.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Georgia Judge: DACA Students Can Pay In-State Tuition Rate

Undocumented immigrants in Georgia who came to the U.S. as children and have received temporary protection from deportation under the Obama administration will now be able to pay in-state tuition at the state’s colleges and universities, a judge ruled in the years-long court case Tuesday.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

What’s Next for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics?
A Q&A With Outgoing Executive Director Alejandra Ceja

Alejandra Ceja has been the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics since 2013 — a position she’ll give up at noon on Jan. 19, the day before the presidential inauguration. I recently sat down with her at the U.S. Department of Education to talk about the state of Latino education, the Initiative’s first 25 years, and what we can expect from the Initiative under the next administration. 

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length. 

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Latinos Highest Share of University of California’s Record-Breaking Number of Applicants

More students than ever are seeking a future at one of the University of California System’s nine campuses — among them a record-breaking number of Latino applicants. 

Latinos made up the largest share of applicants for the 2017 fall semester by far. According to figures released by the university system, 41,575 Latino applicants were California residents. 

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Colleges Face a New Reality, as The Number of High School Graduates Will Decline
An increase in low-income and minority-group students will challenge colleges to serve them better

The nation’s colleges and universities will soon face a demographic reckoning: A new report projects that the total number of high school graduates will decline in the next two decades, while the percentage of lower-income and nonwhite students will increase.

EWA Radio

‘Unprepared’ in Memphis: The Realities of College Readiness
EWA Radio: Episode 99

In a new series, Memphis Commercial Appeal reporter Jennifer Pignolet tells the story of Shelby County students working hard to make it to college — and to succeed once they arrive. And their challenges aren’t just financial: for some, like Darrius Isom of South Memphis, having reliable transportation to get to class on time is a game changer. And what are some of the in-school and extracurricular programs that students say are making a difference? Pignolet also looks at the the Tennessee Promise program, which provides free community college classes to qualified students, and assigns a mentor to help guide them. 

THANKSGIVING BONUS: EWA journalist members share some of the things they’re grateful for this year. 

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Public Universities Have ‘Really Lost Our Focus’
Q&A with Christopher Newfield

Since the 1970s, a “doom loop” has pervaded higher education, writes Christopher Newfield in his new book The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them. Newfield, a professor of American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, calls this loop “privatization” – the hidden and overt ways that “business practices restructure teaching and research.”

Report

Competency-Based Education in College Settings

Competency-based education (CBE) has ignited a great deal of public interest in recent years because it allows students to learn and progress at a flexible pace and holds promise for filling workforce skills gaps. What makes it different? First and foremost, it measures learning rather than class time. Students move through material independently, usually in preparation for specific jobs, progressing when they demonstrate mastery of required knowledge and skills (called competencies).

Seminar

Doing More With Higher Ed Data: From Policy to Newsrooms
Philadelphia • February 2–3, 2017

With colleges and universities under increased pressure to ensure that more students earn degrees without amassing mountains of debt, journalists are at the forefront in examining how these institutions  measure up. But there’s one major obstacle that both colleges and reporters share when it comes to making sense of how well these schools are meeting their goals: insufficient data.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

A Push for More Latino College Graduates in Texas, but Not by ‘Business as Usual’

Latino children will “pretty much determine the fate of Texas” during the 21st century, the state’s Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes said in his annual address this week.

That’s why the state will need to get more creative in educating Latinos and ensuring they graduate from college. “Doing business as usual,” won’t work, he said, according to the Austin American-Statesman

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Programs Providing ‘Excelencia’ in Latino Education

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Excelencia in Education has released its annual list of college programs and community groups that are effectively supporting the educational advancement of Latino students in higher education, or “Examples of ¡Excelencia!“ 

Here’s a look at this year’s honorees.

Pathway to the Baccalaureate Program, Northern Virginia Community College

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

First in the Family: What Works for First-Generation College Students

Source: Flickr/ via COD Newsroom ( CC BY 2.0)

“A bad attitude is like a bad tire: You can’t go anywhere until you change it,” Arizona State University sophomore Ricardo Nieland told a roomful of journalists gathered on the campus for a seminar on innovation in higher education earlier this month.

Nieland was speaking on a panel about college students who are among the first generation of family members to pursue a degree. The session addressed the struggles many of these young adults encounter in higher education.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

College Completion Failures Must Be Tackled in Tandem With Costs, Report Says

By Shenandoah University Office of Marketing and Communications (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Two numbers haunt the college landscape: $1.3 trillion and 40 percent.

The first is the ever-increasing debt Americans are shouldering to pay off the cost of a degree. But a growing chorus of experts believes that extraordinary sum obscures another crisis: For many, those debts wouldn’t be as devastating had they earned a degree. But only 40 percent of Americans complete a bachelor’s degree in four years.

The upshot is that millions of Americans earning meager wages are on the hook for thousands of dollars with almost nothing to show for it.

EWA Radio

Same As It Ever Was: The Pitfalls of Remedial Education
EWA Radio: Episode 88

Pixabay/Karsten Paulick

Millions of high school graduates show up for the first day of college academically unprepared for the rigors of higher ed. And that’s where remedial (or “developmental”) education comes into play. Students don’t get academic credit for these classes even though they still cost them in time and money. And there’s another problem: being placed in even one remedial class as a freshman — particularly at a community college — can significantly reduce a student’s odds of ever completing a degree.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Ensuring College Readiness and Success for Latino Students

From left, Fermin Leal of EdSource, Juan Garcia of ACT, Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj of Seton Hall University, Carmen Macias of the University of Southern California, Victor Zamora of KIPP Colorado Schools participate in a panel discussion about Latino students and college readiness at EWA's third annual Spanish-language media convning. Source: Twitter/ @leslieenriquez

The number of Hispanics taking the ACT exam jumped 50 percent from 2011 to 2015. But only 15 percent of those test takers are scoring well enough to be deemed college-ready in all four subjects, compared to 28 percent of other students.

These figures starkly reflect “the gap between the level of aspiration and the level of readiness” required to thrive in college, said Juan Garcia, senior director of the ACT’s Office for the Advancement of Underserved Learners.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

The Republican Plan For Higher Education: Less Red Tape And Less Money

By Bjoertvedt (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Past is prologue.

That’s what Republicans promise in the higher education platform they’ll finalize at their national convention in Cleveland: an approach that follows the direction they’ve already taken in Congress.

Fewer regulations for colleges and universities. Less red tape for students.

Less money.

“Obviously what we do legislatively is a statement of our philosophy and our principles,” said Virginia Foxx, Republican chair of the House subcommittee that oversees higher education and co-chair of the GOP platform committee.

Seminar

Election 2016: New President, New Education Agenda
Washington, D.C. • November 14, 2016

The election of Republican Donald Trump is sure to reshape federal policy for education in significant ways, from prekindergarten to college, especially coupled with the GOP’s retaining control of Congress.

Although Trump spent relatively little time on education in his campaign, he did highlight the issue from time to time, from his sharp criticism of the Common Core and high student debt loads to proposing a plan to significantly expand school choice. And Congress has a long to-do list, including reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Seminar

The U.S. Elections & Education: Part 1
Washington, D.C. • August 30, 2016

Now that the White House race has narrowed to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, how is education playing out as an issue in the campaign? Will it prove an important fault line between the Democratic and Republican candidates? Will Trump offer any details to contrast with Clinton’s extensive set of proposals from early childhood to higher education? What are the potential implications for schools and colleges depending on who wins the White House? Also, what other races this fall should be on the radar of journalists, whether elections for Congress, state legislatures, or governor?

Report

FAFSA Non-Filers: What the Research Says
National College Access Network (NCAN)

Whereas non-filers used to cite their parents’ ability to pay, more recently, students have said they didn’t think they qualified for the aid. Despite standing to benefit the most, a full 44 percent of non-filers were first-year community college students, compared with 26 percent of students at four-year public colleges and 18 percent of those at private colleges. Community college students were also more likely to file late (54 percent did so) than four-year students were ( just under a quarter of those at public colleges and 17 percent at privates were tardy).

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Higher Ed: Hunger on Campus

Flickr/Salvation Army USA West (CC BY 2.0)

The stereotypes of the financially struggling college students are well-known. They live on ramen, share an apartment or house with several roommates, and work part-time for money to buy beer. They get summer jobs to cover college tuition and expenses. And they come from middle- and upper-class families, so if they do struggle sometimes to pay the bills, that scarcity is hip and cool.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Report: Latino Graduation Rates Highest at Selective Institutions

Source: Flickr/ via Alan Light (CC BY 2.0)

The more selective the institution, the higher the graduation rate for Latino students, a new study by Excelencia in Education shows. 

At selective colleges and universities — those that admit less than half of applicants — 68 percent of Latino students graduate and are more likely to do so on time. At other four-year institutions and two-year colleges, the Latino graduation rates are 47 and 17 percent, respectively. 

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Obama Official: To Lower Cost of College, States Must Spend More

U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell spoke at EWA's 69th annual National Seminar in Boston. Source: U.S. Department of Education

“The most expensive degree is the one you don’t get.” That’s Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell quoting former U.S. Ed Secretary Arne Duncan at the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar on Monday. Mitchell’s talk focused on how to prevent such a costly slip.

EWA Radio

Competitive College Admissions: Too Much Hype?

Flickr/Wayne Stadler

Are education reporters unwittingly contributing to the hysteria over elite college admissions? What do policymakers say needs to be done to ramp down the tension without dimming enthusiasm among students? And how did the perception of college admissions as inaccessible to most — when the reverse is actually more accurate — become so pervasive?

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

‘Lives in Limbo’: Supporting Undocumented Students

Yehimi Cambron, middle, shares her immigration story at the Center for American Progress event, "Harnessing the Talent of DACA and Unauthorized Students at the K-12 Level." She was joined by, from left, Richard Loeschner of Brentwood High School in New York, Frances Esparza of Boston Public Schools, Roberto Gonzales of Harvard University, and moderator Scott Sargrad of CAP. Photo by Natalie Gross/ EWA

When Yehimi Cambron crossed the U.S. border from Mexico with her parents, they told her she would not have documented legal status in this country. But as a third-grader, she had no concept of how that would affect her.

It wasn’t until she was 15 and denied a $50 prize in an art competition because she didn’t have a Social Security number that she grasped its meaning.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Wanted: Faculty Who Can Mentor Latino Students

Source: Bigstock

In an effort to diversify its faculty, California Lutheran University is trying a new approach in its hiring.

In a job posting for an assistant professor position, the recently designated Hispanic-serving institution specifies it wants “candidates who can mentor African-American or Latino(a) students and are able to teach courses that deepen student and faculty awareness regarding power dynamics related to race/ethnicity.” The ability to speak Spanish is a plus. 

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Marijuana Tax to Fund Scholarships for Latinos

Source: Flickr/ via Miran Rijavec (CC BY 2.0)

Latinos from low-income backgrounds in Pueblo, Colorado, will soon be able to apply for college scholarships funded by marijuana sales.

Next year — in a move that’s never been done before – the city will earmark an estimated $700,000 in newly generated marijuana-tax revenue to fund scholarships for high school seniors who plan to attend local community colleges and state universities, Rafa Fernandez De Castro reports for Fusion. 

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

How Colleges Can Help Students Who Are First in Their Families to Attend College

Reina Olivas, right, speaks to reporters at an EWA journalism seminar in Los Angeles, February 27, 2016. (Photo credit: EWA/Mikhail Zinshteyn)

A few weeks ago Reina Olivas got on the phone with a freshman college student. “She was having a hard time with the cultural experience, the college experience,” said Olivas, a college mentor who’s in her third year at the University of Texas at Austin. “So I asked her this initial question – ‘Have you gone to office hours?’”

Olivas is part of an eight-person crew at the Dell Scholars Program that connects with 1,500 college students across the country who could use a helpful hint from other students who also are wending their way through higher learning.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

SAT Makes Bid to Better Serve Poor Kids

David Coleman speaks to reporters at an Education Writers Seminar in Los Angeles, February 27, 2016. (Credit: EWA)

The SAT has been called out of touch, instructionally irrelevant, and a contributor to the diversity gaps on college campuses because the test arguably benefits wealthier students who can afford heaps of test preparation.

But now the SAT is fighting back. The College Board, the test’s owner, is hoping that a major makeover of the assessment that’s set to debut this weekend will persuade critics that students, teachers and colleges still need an exam that has been a centerpiece of the admissions landscape for 90 years.

Multimedia

New Developments in College Admissions Testing
College Readiness: What Does It Mean for Higher Ed?

New Developments in College Admissions Testing

In March, students nationwide will take a new version of the SAT for the first time, one that ditches the dreaded vocabulary words and tries to better gauge how students can apply what they have learned in classes. ACT also has made changes to its exam, most notably in the essay-writing portion. Meanwhile, the number of colleges that are test-optional in their application process continues to grow. Experts update journalists on these changes.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Florida Senate Votes ‘Yes’ to Coding As a Foreign Language

Source: Flickr/ via HackNY.org (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The state of Florida is one step closer to equating computer coding with foreign languages.

A controversial bill, which passed by a wide margin in the state Senate Wednesday would allow students to take computer coding for foreign language credit and require the state’s public colleges and universities to recognize it as such. 

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Report Connects Student Debt to ‘Structural Racism’

Bigstock

Minority student loan borrowers are struggling at disproportionate rates to pay back their debt, leading a pair of researchers to draw a connection to structural racism in higher education and other parts of American society. 

According to data released last week by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, U.S. zip codes that are home to higher shares of blacks and Latinos also had higher rates of delinquency in loan repayment, specifically among minority residents in the middle class.

EWA Radio

Can ‘Pushy Moms’ Nudge Community College Students to New Heights?
EWA Radio: Episode 59

Flickr/Johnathan Nightingale

Many community college students dream of making the transition to a four-year institution but the application process can be daunting – especially if you don’t have experienced family members to ask for help. Enter the “Pushy Moms” at LaGuardia Community College, a volunteer group of mothers well-versed in the ins and outs of the higher education admissions maze.

Report

Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good Through College Admissions
Making Caring Common Project, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions, represents the first time that a broad coalition of colleges and universities have joined forces in a unified effort calling for widespread change in the college admissions process. The report includes concrete recommendations to reshape the college admissions process and promote greater ethical engagement among aspiring students, reduce excessive achievement pressure, and level the playing field for economically disadvantaged students.

Seminar

Higher Ed 2016
September 16–17 • Tempe, Arizona

What new techniques and practices should higher education embrace to ensure that more students graduate? Join the Education Writers Association September 16–17 at Arizona State University to explore cutting-edge innovations that aim to address financial, academic, and social barriers. More on the seminar theme.

This annual seminar is one of the largest gatherings of journalists covering postsecondary education. Network with others covering this beat and step up your coverage for the upcoming academic year.

Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona
Blog: The Educated Reporter

EWA Radio: Here Are Your Favorites of 2015

It’s been a terrific year for our scrappy little podcast, and we’re thrilled to report an equally stellar lineup coming to EWA Radio in 2016.  

I’d like to take a moment to thank the many journalists and education experts who made time to join us for lively conversations, and to all of you who have offered suggestions for stories and guests to feature. Please keep the feedback coming! 

Here’s a quick rundown of the 10 most popular episodes of the year:

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Cafécolleges Offer Unique Approach to Higher Ed Help

Cafécollege in San Antonio opened in 2010 to assist students of all ages with their higher education questions. Now, the center is being replicated in Houston. Source: Flickr/ via lee leblanc (CC BY 2.0)

A cup of coffee in a comfortable lounge may be just what students need to keep them relaxed about the college application process. At least, that’s what a new education-focused center in Houston is going for. 

Cafécollege Houston opened last week, modeled after San Antonio’s successful center with the same name – a “one stop shop” for teens and adults looking for guidance on college applications, financial aid, the college transfer process and more.

Seminar

College Readiness: What Does It Mean for Higher Ed?

“College and career readiness” has become the rallying cry for what high schools should aim to achieve for their graduates. But large numbers of students still arrive on college campuses needing remedial courses, and many of those who are academically ready still struggle to adapt to college and earn their degrees.

Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel
711 S Hope St, Los Angeles, CA 90017
Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Saving on College by Doing Some of It in High School

Gov. Dannel Malloy announces the creation of Connecticut's first P-TECH high school, modeled after the IBM-backed school in Brooklyn, New York. (Source: Flickr/Dannel Malloy)

Last week the White House announced a new higher education experiment that will direct federal grants to some high school students who want to enroll in college classes.

The plan is to start small, with the administration offering $20 million to help defray the college costs of up to 10,000 low-income high school students for the 2016-2017 academic year. The money will come from the overall Pell Grant pot, which is currently funded at more than $30 billion annually and used by 8 million students.

Webinar

Seven Challenges First-Generation College Students Face & How to Write About Them

(Bigstock/michaeljung)

While many first-generation students are excited and ambitious when they step on campus — eager to beat the odds and become the first in their families to earn a college degree — others struggle with guilt, fear and loneliness, sometimes even struggling to remember why they decided to attend college in the first place. And they grapple with these feelings while they also have to figure out how to apply for financial aid, register for classes, and manage the other necessities of undergraduate life knowing they can’t turn to their families for guidance based on experience.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Hispanic-Serving Institutions and Their Roles in Higher Ed

Panelists Alicia Diaz, left, of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and Kathleen Plinske, a Valencia College campus president, discussed the roles of Hispanic-serving institutions at EWA's 2015 Spanish-Language Media Convening. The discussion was moderator by Adolfo Guzman-Lopez or Southern California Public Radio. 
Source: Valencia College/ Don Burlinson

In recent years, the United States has seen overall enrollment declines in the numbers of students seeking postsecondary degrees, but in a panel about Latinos in higher education at the Education Writers Association’s second annual Spanish-Language Media Convening, the executive director of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities reminded journalists of one area of growth: The number of Hispanic-serving institutions is on the rise and accelerating.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

How Community Colleges Are Helping Transfer Students

Source: Bigstock

Students who transfer between colleges and universities on their path to achieve a college degree often encounter obstacles – barriers, like lost credits, that could keep them from finishing their degree altogether. At EWA’s recent seminar in Orlando focused on higher education, reporters got a lesson in the data on transfer students and heard from experts who are making the process of transferring and going on to earn degrees easier for students at their community colleges.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

White House Celebrates Hispanic Education During Heritage Month

Alejandra Ceja, left, speaks at a White House celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month Thursday, Oct. 15. Ceja is the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence of Hispanics. Source: Flickr/ via US Department of Education (CC BY 2.0)

In a speech honoring Hispanic Heritage Month and the 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics Thursday, President Obama praised Hispanic students for helping drive the U.S. high school graduation rate to an all-time high and also announced the commitments of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to boost student academic success. 

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Georgia Supreme Court Considers Whether DACA Students Pay In-State Tuition

The Georgia Supreme Court will hear oral arguments this week in a controversial case to grant in-state tuition benefits to some undocumented immigrant students. 
Source: Flickr/ via peoplesworld (CC BY-NC 2.0)

In-state tuition for undocumented immigrant college students is again in the spotlight this week in a case that’s made its way to the Georgia Supreme Court. Central to the arguments the justices will hear is whether students living in Georgia who have been granted federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals should be considered lawful state residents. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

CNN Debate Aside, Ed. Finds Way Into Presidential Race

Twitter/@YahooNews

Education didn’t exactly make a splash in this week’s Republican presidential debate — barely a ripple, actually — but the issue has gained considerable attention in the 2016 contest for the White House, from debates over the Common Core to proposals on higher education access and affordability.

Seminar

69th EWA National Seminar

The Education Writers Association, the national professional organization for journalists who cover education, is thrilled to announce that its annual conference will take place from Sunday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in the historic city of Boston.

Co-hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication and School of Education, EWA’s 69th National Seminar will examine a wide array of timely topics in education — from early childhood through career — while expanding and sharpening participants’ skills in reporting and storytelling.

Boston, Massachusetts
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Schools With Tough Tests Send More Low-Income Kids to College

Morris Jeff Community School in Louisiana, an  International Baccalaureate school. (Source: Flickr/Bart Everson)

Schools that that teach low-income students a notoriously demanding curriculum are almost twice as likely to see those students enroll in college, a new report shows.

This news comes on the heels of growing research suggesting that challenging assessments, which are a staple of the International Baccalaureate program featured in the report, help students develop a deeper understanding of key subjects like math and history. That “deeper learning,” in turn, may lead to more college opportunities. 

Webinar

Escaping the Ordinary: The Best Back-to-School Story Ideas
Back-to-School Webinar

Escaping the Ordinary: The Best Back-to-School Story Ideas

For education reporters, coming up with fresh angles for back-to-school stories is an annual challenge. Two veteran education journalists—Steve Drummond (NPR) and Beth Hawkins (MinnPost)—share smart tips for digging deep, and keeping ahead of the curve on the latest trends. We discuss new ways of approaching the first day of school, ideas for unique profiles, strategies for data projects and how to make the most of your publication’s multimedia resources. 

Speakers

Blog: The Educated Reporter

NCLB Rewrite Survives Senate Vote

A mock schoolhouse outside the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. (Flickr/elonjoned)

It’s been a hugely busy week for education reporters on Capitol Hill, as the Senate plowed its way through the Every Child Achieves Act, one of the leading contenders to replace No Child Left Behind as the nation’s framework for funding public schools.

The Senate approved passage of the bill Thursday with 81-17 vote. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Money Magazine’s College Rankings Examine How Much ‘Value’ Students Get

The folks at Money magazine are largely doing the work the White House sought to do but hasn’t: rate colleges and universities by the extra boost they give students in landing financially rewarding careers.

Released this week, Money’s rating system ranks more than 700 schools according to an in-house rubric for measuring how much value a college offers students given its price of attendance. 

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New Insights on State Funding for Higher Education
2015 EWA National Seminar

New Insights on State Funding for Higher Education

The Great Recession saw most states drastically cut their spending on public colleges, leading most of those colleges to increase their tuition. As the national economy continues to recover, how has state funding for postsecondary education fared and what does it mean for students and their families?

  • Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, The Washington Post (Moderator)
  • Daniel Hurley, American Association of State Colleges and Universities
  • Laura Perna, University of Pennsylvania
  • Ray Scheppach, University of Virginia