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: Latino Ed Beat

Suspended Mexican-Studies Program More Than a Major to Colorado Protesters

Protesters at the University of Northern Colorado argue it shouldn’t matter whether the temporarily suspended Mexican-American studies program only had two students in it.

The university stopped accepting applications for the program in March due to low enrollment. “Just two students are seeking a Mexican-American studies degree this year, continuing a downward trend since 2010-11, when the programs had 11 students,” The Denver Post reported. 

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Hispanics More Optimistic Than Most About Higher Ed Access, Affordability

Source: Flickr/ COD Newsroom (CC BY 2.0)

When asked in a recent poll whether education beyond high school is available and affordable to those who need it, Hispanic respondents were optimistic.

The results of a recent Gallup-Lumina Foundation poll reveal that while overall, Americans feel higher education is not affordable, the majority of Hispanics feel it is. And on the issue of access, Hispanics were also more confident than white and black survey-takers. 

Report

Equal Talents, Unequal Opportunities
A Report Card on State Support for Academically Talented Low-Income Students

Year after year, in every state and community in our nation, students
from low-income families are less likely than other students to reach
advanced levels of academic performance, even when demonstrating
the potential to do so. These income-based “excellence gaps” appear
in elementary school and continue through high school. It is a
story of demography predetermining destiny, with bright low-
income students becoming what one research team referred to as a
“persistent talent underclass.”

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Vegas Campus Claims Nevada’s First HSI Title

On Monday, the College of Southern Nevada became the state’s first Hispanic-serving institution — a designation that two more Nevada colleges also might earn in the near future as the Las Vegas Valley’s Latino population continues to grow. 

Report

The Condition of Latinos in Education: 2015 Factbook
Excelencia in Education

Excelencia in Education

Excelencia in Education is committed to using data to inform public policy and institutional practice to achieve our mission of accelerating student success for Latinos in higher education. We know college success does not begin at the college gates. Every educational experience from early childhood to high school and into the workforce influences the potential for college success.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The 2015 Education Beat: Common Core, Testing, School Choice

Students at New York University work on a computer programming project. More interactive learning is expected to be a hot topic in the coming year on both the K-12 and higher education beats. (Flickr/Matylda Czarnecka)

There’s a busy year ahead on the schools beat – I talked to reporters, policy analysts and educators to put together a cheat sheet to a few of the stories you can expect to be on the front burner in the coming months: 

Revamping No Child Left Behind

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

For Undocumented Immigrants, High Schools Can Play a Key Role

Gymnasiums like these can be sites for explaining to families the process of applying for DACA. By Tedder (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

As many as 3.7 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States are eligible for the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which sets aside the threat of deportation and grants work privileges to eligible residents. Among the several conditions necessary to qualify for DACA approval is a high-school degree or its equivalent. That’s where schools enter the picture.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

From the Beat: Memorable Education Stories of 2014

Cadets celebrate graduation at West Point. A USA Today investigation of  congressional influence over the nomination process at elite military academies was one of the year's most memorable education stories. Flickr/U.S. Army (Creative Commons)

When you write a blog, the end of the year seems to require looking back and looking ahead. Today I’m going to tackle the former with a sampling of some of the year’s top stories from the K-12 and higher education beats. I’ll save the latter for early next week when the final sluggish clouds of 2014 have been swept away, and a bright new sky awaits us in 2015. (Yes, I’m an optimist.)

Multimedia

Attitude Adjustment: The Impact of Mentoring and Psychology
2014 Higher Ed Semiar

Attitude Adjustment: The Impact of Mentoring and Psychology

Academics are just part of the story for many students entering college – a whole new culture of learning awaits them. But if they are first-generation college students, those cultural challenges can derail a promising postsecondary career. New research is exploring the effects mentoring programs and brief psychological interventions can have on low-income, minority and first-generation students. What can colleges do to promote resiliency and support student well-being for all students?  Are such efforts merely too much “coddling” of students by campuses? 

Multimedia

What Should the College Student Experience Look Like in the 21st Century?
2014 Higher Ed Semiar

What Should the College Student Experience Look Like in the 21st Century?

Can the United States continue to sustain financially the notion of residential college experience?  What are parents and students expecting when they choose a college?  How has the rise of the “value consumer” altered the landscape of the 21st Century college campus?  How will the changing demographics (e.g., increased calls for accountability in higher education, MOOCs, and other models for delivering education) affect the traditional residential experience? 

Multimedia

Ratings and Rankings: What They Really Mean for Colleges and Universities
2014 Higher Ed Semiar

Ratings and Rankings: What They Really Mean for Colleges and Universities

As the higher ed community eagerly awaits the details of President Obama’s plan to rate colleges and universities and perhaps tie their access to federal funding to their performance, third-party rankings and ratings of colleges and universities continue to proliferate. What effects do these reports have on the priorities of these institutions and how should journalists interpret each new list of “bests”?

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

The ACT, STEM and Latino Students

Fewer than half of Hispanic students who took the ACT this year met the college readiness benchmarks in math or science, according to a new report. Source: Hoodr/ Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Fewer than half of Hispanic students who took the ACT this year met the college readiness benchmarks in math or science, but those who actually expressed interest in STEM fared better on the college admissions exam.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Veterans Day: Leaving the Battlefield for the College Classroom

Veterans Day: Leaving the Battlefield for the College Classroom

Last fall at EWA’s Higher Education Seminar, we examined the challenges of military personnel making the transition from soldiers to students. Given today’s holiday, it seemed like a good time to re-share this post about the panel discussion, held at Northeastern University in Boston. 

Far more students seeking higher education degrees are part-time, older than the traditional 18-22 set and well into their careers. And colleges have been flagged for their lagging efforts to address the unique needs of these mature students.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Reporting on College Financial Aid? EWA Can Help

Who deserves money for college more: students whose test scores and grades qualify them for “merit aid” or students with greater financial need who might be unable to afford college otherwise? New research suggests that colleges might increasingly be favoring less-needy students, in a quest to boost their schools’ rankings and help their bottom lines. Does that finding hold up to scrutiny? And how do colleges’ decisions on need-based versus merit aid affect college enrollment and completion?

Report

A Federal Work Study Reform Agenda to Better Serve Low-Income Students
Young Invincibles

Decades ago, a young person could graduate from high school, join a company, and receive all the training on the job that she or he needed for a successful career. Today, the world is different. A young man with only a high school diploma now earns 75 cents on the inflation-adjusted dollar his father made in 1980. Even worse, a brutal recession and sluggish recovery has young people confronting double-digit unemployment rates. Fierce competition for entry-level positions requires our generation to not only acquire post-secondary education, but also gain on-the-job experience and skills.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Higher Ed: Reporting on the College Student Experience

Our annual Higher Education Seminar took place in Dallas earlier this month — Southern Methodist University was our gracious host — and there have been some first-rate stories produced by EWA members who joined us for the event.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Data Might Help Colleges Sort Out the ‘Murky Middle’

SMU 2014, Photo by Kim Leeson

Stephanie Dupaul of Southern Methodist University put the theme of EWA’s 2014 Higher Education seminar, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Covering the College Student Experience,” to effective use during a session exploring the use of data by colleges:

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Adding It Up: Financial Aid and Latino Students

Deborah Santiago shares information on financial aid at the EWA Spanish-Language Media Convening. Source: Jay Torres, Diario La Estrella

“How will I pay for college?”

Sound familiar? I’m still asking myself this question three years after I graduated.

Though not unique to college-bound Latino students, this question is one many of them face – perhaps even more dauntingly than their peers.

Deborah Santiago of Excelencia in Education discussed the process of college finance as it particularly relates to Latinos at the Education Writers Association’s Spanish-Language Media Convening in Dallas Sept. 4.

Report

Gains and Gaps: Changing Inequality in U.S. College Entry and Completion
Martha J. Bailey, Susan M. Dynarski

We describe changes over time in inequality in postsecondary education using nearly seventy years of data from the U.S. Census and the 1979 and 1997 National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth. We find growing gaps between children from high- and low-income families in college entry, persistence, and graduation. Rates of college completion increased by only four percentage points for low-income cohorts born around 1980 relative to cohorts born in the early 1960s, but by 18 percentage points for corresponding cohorts who grew up in high-income families.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Experts: The White House Plan to Rate Colleges Has Major Issues

Michelle Asha Cooper(L), director of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, speaks at the Higher Education Seminar put on by the Education Writers Association and hosted by Southern Methodist University (Credit: SMU 2014, Photo by Kim Leeson)

A new rating system backed by the White House aims to evaluate nearly all of the nation’s colleges and universities. Roughly 6,000 schools that educate around 22 million students are about to endure an unprecedented amount of federal scrutiny.

And though a version of the Postsecondary Institution Ratings System is scheduled to be unveiled in the fall, policy watchers are still unsure of what’s in store.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How to Help the 21st Century College Student

Source: Flickr/College of DuPage Newsroom

When Mark Milliron met with an advertising team to promote a new type of college in Texas, he wasn’t expecting fireworks. Still, the pitch floored him.

“The Texas Two-Step: Sign Up. Succeed.”

It was the sentence that would appear on billboards and in radio advertisements, enticing thousands of working adults to enroll in an online college – Western Governors University Texas. And it totally missed the point.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

A Chance to Earn College Credit for What You Already Know

Lipscomb University's Competency Assessment and Development Center in Nashville, Tenn. 
Photo credit: Melissa Bailey

A car salesman, a secretary and a military vet filed into a conference room for a new kind of high-stakes test – one that could earn them up to 30 college credits in a single day.

Post

Loyola Medical School Alone In Enrolling Undocumented Dreamers – In Other News – Crain’s Chicago Business

Seven undocumented medical students started classes at Loyola University Chicago on Aug. 4, but the school still is the only one in the state—and possibly the country—to intentionally enroll such students.

From Northwestern University to Southern Illinois University, no other medical or dental school publicly has embraced students who came to the United States illegally as children but have spent most of their lives here.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Study Examines Performance of Hispanic Serving Institutions

New research challenges the assumption that Latino students who attend Hispanic Serving Institutions are less likely to graduate than their peers at other colleges and universities. HSIs have undergraduate enrollments that are at least 25 percent Hispanic.

Researchers examined the graduation rates of Latino and black students attending HSIs and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Texas from 1997 to 2008.

Multimedia

Prepping Our Kids for College: What Will the Next Decade Teach Us?

Prepping Our Kids for College: What Will the Next Decade Teach Us?

David Coleman accepted the challenge to rethink our children’s core curriculum across the nation. Now the architect of the Common Core is tackling the SAT and the testing that measures our youth for higher education. What’s up?

Speakers: Jane Stoddard Williams, David Coleman

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Report: “Tough Love” Standards Should be Applied to Colleges

Low-income students are more likely to attend colleges and universities that do the poorest job of producing graduates.

And on the other end of the spectrum, many elite higher education institutions are doing little to enroll poor students. 

A new report from the advocacy group The Education Trust entitled “Tough Love: Bottom-Line Quality Standards for Colleges,” suggests that the government should impose quality standards on both sorts of institutions.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

How Will Starbucks Tuition Program Impact Latinos?

Starbucks made a splash Monday when the company announced plans to pay tuition for its employees to take online classes from Arizona State University. 

Employees who are admitted as juniors or seniors will receive full tuition scholarships, those with less will receive partial scholarships.

To qualify, employees must work at least 20 hours a week and qualify to be admitted to Arizona State.

While the program is not explicitly designated as benefitting minorities, it is clear that many of those Starbucks employees who stand to benefit are Latino.

Seminar

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Covering the College Student Experience
2014 Higher Ed Seminar

For many college students — whether fresh out of high school or adults returning to school — their most serious obstacles to a degree won’t be homework or tests, but rather the challenges of navigating student life. Colleges are now being forced to face the longstanding problems that have often led to students’ flailing and failing on their own. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Top 10 Higher Education Stories You Should Be Covering

Scott Jaschik addresses reporters at EWA's 67th National Seminar at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

For higher education reporters, Inside Higher Ed editor Scott Jaschik’s annual top-10 list of story ideas is a highlight of EWA’s National Seminar. This year at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Jaschik kicked off his roundup with  an issue that has affected many institutions around the country: sexual assault. The key to covering this story, he said, is not to imply that this is a new problem. Increased attention from the White House has challenged the ways that many colleges have addressed these incidents.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Live From Nashville: EWA’s 67th National Seminar

I’ve often made the case that there’s no reporting beat where the reporters are more collegial – or more committed to their work - than education. EWA’s 67th National Seminar, hosted by Vanderbilt University, helped to prove that point.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Arne Duncan: Educational Equity Is Federal Priority

Sixty years after the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, there’s still a wide gulf in educational opportunities for low-income and minority students and their more advantaged peers, including when it comes to access to rigorous coursework aimed at preparing students for college and the workforce, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told the audience at the Education Writers Association’s 67th National Seminar at Vanderbilt University in Nashville today. 

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Hopes of “Dreamers” Rise in Two States

This week, the spirits of undocumented immigrant students were lifted in two large states: Virginia and Florida. 

In Virginia, Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring announced on Tuesday that students raised in the state but brought into the country illegally as young children could qualify for in-state tuition.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Stay Ahead of the Curve With EWA Webinars

In case you missed it, the recording is now available for our webinar on the approaching 60th anniversary of  Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court decision which outlawed segregation in the nation’s public schools.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Immigrant In-State Tuition Less Likely in Florida

Hope is fading that Florida will join other states in offering in-state tuition to certain undocumented immigrant residents attending public colleges and universities.

The Miami Herald reports that Florida Senate Budget Chairman Joe Negron, a Republican, cut off the bill’s progress by announcing that his committee would not hold a vote on it. 

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Fla. Governor Supports In-State Tuition Proposal

Despite having one of the largest Hispanic populations in the country, Florida legislators have struggled for years to drum up support for a measure granting in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant college students.

Now the proposal is beginning to look more within reach. Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, expressed support for the measure for the measure this week.

Key Coverage

Getting Into College — and Paying for It: A Teen’s First Adult Decision

 More than three-quarters of current college freshmen were admitted to their first-choice schools, according to a recently released survey from the University of California at Los Angeles, but only 56.9 percent chose to attend, an all-time low for the annual survey. Students cited high costs and financial aid as the reasons they declined their top schools.

Key Coverage

Wealthier Families Increasingly Benefit from Federal, College Financial Aid

It’s not just colleges and universities that are shifting their financial aid from lower-income to higher-income students.

Tuition tax credits and other tax breaks to offset the cost of higher education — nearly invisible federal government subsidies for families that send their kids to college — also disproportionately benefit more affluent Americans. So do tax-deductible savings plans and the federal work-study program, which gives taxpayer dollars to students who take campus jobs to help pay for their expenses.

Key Coverage

How Some Families Pay Less for College Than Others

The sticker price at Pennsylvania State University runs about $30,000 a year for in-state students. At Swarthmore College, it’s nearly twice that.

Yet Swarthmore ends up being cheaper for most students. That’s because this private liberal-arts college near Philadelphia offers many families a hefty discount, bringing down the average cost to even less than taxpayer-subsidized Penn State’s.

Key Coverage

Data Show Poorer Families Are Bearing the Brunt of College Price Hikes

Nick Mills of McKinney and his twin brother received scholarships from the University of North Texas based on academic success and family income, which made the school within financial reach. As states have cut spending on higher education, public universities have raised tuition to make up the difference. (Tom Fox/Courtesy: Dallas Morning News)

America’s colleges and universities are quietly shifting the burden of their big tuition increases onto low-income students, while many higher-income families are seeing their college costs rise more slowly, or even fall, an analysis of federal data shows.

It’s a trend financial-aid experts and some university administrators worry will further widen the gap between the nation’s rich and poor as college degrees—especially four-year ones—drift beyond the economic reach of growing numbers of students.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Study: Latino Student Success Depends on Financial Aid

A new study examines the strategies used to improve Latino students’ access to financial aid in San Antonio, Texas.

The advocacy group Excelencia in Education conducted the study entitled “The Impact of Financial Aid on Student College Access and Success: The San Antonio Experience.”

The study highlights the importance of financial aid by noting that U.S. Census Bureau data from 2011 showed that only 12 percent of Latino adults in San Antonio have an associate’s degree or higher — in a city that is 72 percent Latino.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

California Universities Unite to Increase Minority PhDs

Four elite California research universities are pooling their resources to increase the number of Latino and black students earning PhDs in fields related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, University of California-Berkeley, and the University of California, Los Angeles have pledged to work together to increase the number of underrepresented minorities earning doctorates in STEM-related fields. In turn, the universities hope to also increase the number of minority faculty members in those fields.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

STEM and Student Skills: Join Our EWA Seminar in Los Angeles

Are you an education journalist? Do you want to know more about how schools are preparing students for future workforce, and what changes are coming to your local classrooms when it comes to computer science and math instruction? Are you familiar with the latest research on how students learn, and whether current instructional methods are aligned with those findings?  Would you like to be a more confident writer when it comes to reporting on student demographics?

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Poll: Latinos Link Education to ‘American Dream’

The American Dream narrative is a storyline so deeply embedded in American popular culture that as writers, we use it often in our storytelling.

Most journalists who seek to write narrative stories have used this dream concept before. I framed a story about a young man, Luis Duarte, from El Salvador who went on to attend Harvard University, around this theme. He struggled with the decision to attend Harvard because he worked while in high school to help financially support his family and he was afraid to leave them behind.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

‘Dream Project’ Helps Undocumented Students

The Virginia-based nonprofit “Dream Project” provides counseling and scholarships to undocumented immigrant students so they can attend college.

The group is especially important because Virginia does not offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants. The program offers mentoring, professional and academic activities and scholarships of about $1,000-$2,000 to deserving students.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

State of the Union: What Education Analysts Expect to Hear

Official White House photo by Pete Souza

The annual State of the Union address to Congress – and the nation – is President Obama’s opportunity to outline his administration’s goals for the coming months, but it’s also an opportunity to look back at the education priorities outlined in last year’s address – and what progress, if any, has been made on them.

Among the big buzzwords in the 2013 State of the Union: college affordability, universal access to early childhood education, and workforce development.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Analysis Offers Peek at College-Age Student Demographics of Future

A new interactive tool created by the Chronicle of Higher Education offers some insights into the rapidly changing face of college students in America.

The publication took a look at the demographic profile of four-year-olds versus 18-year-olds in an effort to project what college-aged students will be like 14 years from now.

The takeaway: there will be far fewer young people of college-going age, more of that smaller pool of students will be Hispanic or Asian, and fewer will be black or white.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Reports: Universities Helping Close Achievement Gap for Latino Students

Two new reports by The Education Trust recognize universities that are making the greatest strides in closing achievement gaps for Latino students.

The first study identifies San Diego State University and the University of Southern California for significantly increasing graduation rates among Latino students.

According to the report, the six-year graduation rate for Latino students who began school in 1996 was 31 percent. The rate for students who began in 2005 improved to 58.8 percent.  At USC, the graduation rate reached nearly the same level as white students.

Report

Report Confirms Early College High School Students Much More Likely to Earn a College Degree

Early College high school students are significantly more likely to enroll in college and earn a degree than their peers, according to the results of an updated study by the American Institutes for Research (AIR). Some 23 percent of students received an associate’s degree within two years compared with 2 percent for those attending other high schools.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

States Balk as GED Gets More Expensive

Life for the nearly 40 million Americans without a high school diploma could be about to get harder as testing companies who create high school equivalency exams are rolling out tougher – and in some cases — more expensive

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Veterans Day: Leaving the Battlefield for the College Classroom

Veterans Day: Leaving the Battlefield for the College Classroom

At EWA’s Higher Education Seminar, held earlier this fall at Northeastern University, we examined the challenges of military personnel making the transition from soldiers to students. Given today’s holiday, it seemed like a good time to share a post from my EWA colleague Mikhail Zinshteyn.

Far more students seeking higher education degrees are part-time, older than the traditional 18-22 set and well into their careers. And colleges have been flagged for their lagging efforts to address the unique needs of these mature students.

EWA Radio

Obama’s Proposal: Will Performance Ratings Hurt Student Access?

Last month, President Obama unveiled an ambitious proposal to reform higher education by tying a college’s access to federal financial aid for students to a new set of ratings the government would produce. Would universities, forced to focus more on student outcomes, be less inclined to enroll students from backgrounds that traditionally have been underserved by higher education?

EWA Radio

Getting In: The Debate Continues

For many students, the first hurdle in their pursuit of a degree is the admissions process. As the debates swirl about whether colleges should offer special considerations—whether race-based or class-based—in choosing which students to accept, what is known about how much access students of all backgrounds have to higher education?

EWA Radio

The Changing Face of College

The next few years could be a turning point for higher education, as the traditional student population starts to shift dramatically. How long will the total number of new high school graduates continue to decline? Of that pool of students, what percentages will be black and Latino or from low-income backgrounds? What will these changes herald for postsecondary education?

EWA Radio

Black and Latino Males: Getting To and Through College

Shaun Harper, director of the Center for Study of Race and Equity in Education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, previews new research on how New York City addressed the challenge of guiding more of its black and Latino male students to postsecondary success. Recorded Saturday, Sept. 28 at EWA’s 2013 Higher Ed Seminar, Guess Who’s Coming to Campus: What Demographic Changes Mean for Colleges and Reporters.

Multimedia

The Changing Face of College

The Changing Face of College

The next few years could be a turning point for higher education, as the traditional student population starts to shift dramatically. How long will the total number of new high school graduates continue to decline? Of that pool of students, what percentages will be black and Latino or from low-income backgrounds? What will these changes herald for postsecondary education?

EWA Radio

The Struggle to Fill Seats

With the total numbers of new high school graduates dropping while tuition prices rise, many private colleges and universities have seen their enrollment numbers decline. Because most of these schools depend on tuition revenue in order to operate, these shortfalls pose serious threats to their existence. Which schools are in jeopardy and why? Speakers: Jarrett L. Carter, Founder and Editor, HBCUDigest.com; William S. Reed, Chair, Davis Educational Foundation; Jon Marcus, Contributing Editor, The Hechinger Report (moderator) Recorded Friday, Sept.

Multimedia

For Good Measure: Assessing College Performance

For Good Measure: Assessing College Performance

What’s the best way to determine how effectively a college goes about the business of educating its students? If popular college rankings in the media are flawed, what other models of crunching the data might deliver more illuminating comparisons? To what extent is a college’s success at graduating students dependent on the types of students it enrolls? This session offers insights on new approaches on how to use the data available to see a more complete picture of college performance.

Webinar

What’s the Price? ‘Pay As You Earn’ and Income-Based Repayment
57 minutes

Who will benefit more from the federal government’s new “Pay As You Earn” income-based repayment program for student loans: Recent graduates struggling to find jobs in a tough economy? Or high-paid professionals such as lawyers and business executives, who might be able to wipe away tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt? Why are the income-based repayment options so underused when as many as one out of five borrowers has fallen behind on payments?

Multimedia

10 Higher Education Stories You Should Be Covering This Year

10 Higher Education Stories You Should Be Covering This Year

Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik talks to reporters about 10 stories he wants to see in 2013 (added bonus: three “don’ts” to observe while covering the higher ed beat).

This address was a part of “Degrees vs. Debt: Making College More Affordable,” EWA’s Nov. 2-3 2012 seminar for higher ed reporters at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

EWA Radio

Who’s Subsidizing Whom and Other Secrets of Tuition Pricing

When students pay different amounts to take the same courses, does one student’s tuition go toward another’s education? We take close look at this debate as part of a discussion of the factors that college and university administrators consider when they determine tuition prices. Panlists: Jon Marcus, Hechinger Report (moderator); Steve Hurlburt, Delta Cost Project; Paul Lingenfelter, State Higher Education Executive Officers; Richard Vedder, Ohio University/Center for College Affordability and Productivity.

Multimedia

Buskin Lecture: Mayor Cory Booker

Buskin Lecture: Mayor Cory Booker

The Mayor of Newark, NJ speaks at EWA’s 65th National Seminar on education inequality, innovation, and the need for tough questions in school coverage.

Webinar

Deciding Diversity: The Supreme Court Reconsiders Affirmative Action
53 minutes

This fall, the U.S. Supreme Court will take on the issue of affirmative action in college admissions for the first time since 2003. The plaintiff in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin argues that her race was the deciding factor when she was denied admission to the school. Regardless of the outcome, this case will have major consequences for schools around the country for years to come.

Multimedia

EWA Interview: UCLA’s John Pryor on the CIRP Freshman Survey

EWA Interview: UCLA’s John Pryor on the CIRP Freshman Survey

How can higher education reporters use CIRP survey data in their stories? How are educational institutions using the information? John Pryor, director of CIRP at UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute, gives guidance in this interview conducted at EWA’s Higher Education Seminar on Nov. 4-5 at UCLA.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What Online Education Means for College Classrooms

What Online Education Means for College Classrooms

Early registration is now open for EWA’s 2013 Higher Education Seminar, to be held Sept.28-29 at Northeastern University in Boston.This is a journalists-only  event, and you can register and apply for a scholarship here.In the meantime, EWA’s 66th National Seminar was recently held at Stanford University, and we asked some of the education reporters attending to contribute blog posts from the sessions.Today’s guest blogger is Mary Beth Marklein of USA Today.&

Report

ACT Research and Policy Issues

This website maintained by a leader in college admissions tests offers reports and data on issues such as “The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2011” and examinations of achievement gaps among students from different backgrounds.

Organization

The Higher Education Research Institute (HERI)

The Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at the University of California, Los Angeles offers a number of resources regarding issues of college access and admissions, the most notable of which is their annual Freshman Survey. The survey gathers a range of information — from their academic background to their social lives — from the incoming class of college student

Organization

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators is the leading professional organization for university officials who manage the processes that award students financial assistance. Their advocacy and policy work on college affordability and student debt can serve as useful resources in reporting, and their national conference often highlights key issues regarding college costs.

Organization

The College Board

The College Board is known primarily for their SAT and Advanced Placement tests, which play critical roles in the college admissions process, both for students and admissions officers across the country. The College Board, however, does also have an Advocacy & Policy Center that actively researches key issues of college access and success. Their annual reports regarding trends in college costs and financial aid are key tools of the higher education beat.

Organization

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC)

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) offers guidance for those involved in various aspects of the college admission process, both at the collegiate and secondary school level. NACAC’s policies govern everything from how a college can represent and promote itself and its services to when a college should announce financial aid decisions to students. They also address appropriate and ethical conduct for high school counselors and college admissions officers.

NACAC also publishes data on trends in college admissions through an annual report called The State of College Admission. The report is based on surveys of high school counselors and representatives of colleges and universities.

Organization

The National College Access Network (NCAN)

The National College Access Network (NCAN) is a Washington, D.C.-based organization that provides resources and support to member organizations.NCAN defines a college access organization as “an entity that helps under-served students plan, prepare and pay for college.” An agency need not do all three of those things but must do at least one to be considered a college access organization.NCAN has a directory of college access organizations by state, and the leaders of such organizations are often eager to highlight their work or help shine light on issues within their field.

Key Coverage

In California, Push for College Diversity Starts Earlier

“ANAHEIM, Calif. — As the Supreme Court weighs a case that could decide the future of affirmative action in college admissions, California offers one glimpse of a future without it. California was one of the first states to abolish affirmative action, after voters approved Proposition 209 in 1996. Across the University of California system, Latinos fell to 12 percent of newly enrolled state residents in the mid-1990s from more than 15 percent, and blacks declined to 3 percent from 4 percent. At the most competitive campuses, at Berkeley and Los Angeles, the decline was much steeper.”

Key Coverage

Crowded Out

“In a paper presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, higher education professors Bradley Curs and Ozan Jaquette find that increased enrollment of out-of-state students at public research universities – often done to generate increased tuition revenue in the face of decreased state appropriations – is taking a toll on racial and socioeconomic diversity at the institutions.”

Key Coverage

Out-of-State Enrollment Decreases Minority, Low-Income Student Enrollment

In a paper presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, higher education professors Bradley Curs and Ozan Jaquette find that increased enrollment of out-of-state students at public research universities – often done to generate increased tuition revenue in the face of decreased state appropriations – is taking a toll on racial and socioeconomic diversity at the institutions.

Report

College Board Advocacy & Policy Center

The College Board’s center offers a considerable amount of research regarding college access and admissions, including a “Young Men of Color Initiative” and a “Trends in Higher Education” series.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Who Decides What’s Off the Record?

To do their jobs, education reporters on the federal beat depend on access to congressional staffers. But what happens when those staffers want anonymity while discussing policy at a public forum? I asked two reporters – Libby Nelson of Inside Higher Ed and Eric Kelderman of The Chronicle of Higher Education – to explain why they’re pushing back against what they contend is an unreasonable expectation.

Key Coverage

Paying $2 Million to Get Your Kid into Harvard?

Harvard’s senior communications officer, Jeff Neal, told NBC News the college is skeptical of admissions consulting agencies.

“While it is certainly possible that in individual cases an admissions consultant can be helpful to an applicant, we have encountered no evidence to indicate that is the case generally,” Neal told NBC News in an email. “More importantly, our process — and the very wide range of information we collect about applicants — is designed to give us the broadest possible view of their qualifications, regardless of whether they used a consultant or not.” 

Report

Debt, Jobs, Diversity and Who Gets In: A Survey of Admissions Directors

At a time of increasing national concern about debt levels of college students, a plurality of college admissions directors in a new survey by Inside Higher Ed indicated that current average loan volume for undergraduates is reasonable — and 22 percent of all admissions directors and 28 percent of those at private colleges would be comfortable with the average student debt being even higher than it is now. 

Report

2012 Condition of College and Career Readiness

Using the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks and ACT® test scores, the Condition of College & Career Readiness reports provide national and state snapshots of college readiness of the graduating seniors of the class of 2012 who took the ACT in high school.

Key Coverage

Battling the High Cost of Higher Ed

This article from May 2012 examines the struggles that many students and families have faced in financing the costs of a college degree. It emphasizes the consumer side of the issue, tracing a few families as they navigate the steps of picking—and paying for—their kids to enroll in college.

Key Coverage

Gains in Access, Less in Success

This May 2012 article looks at a recently released college access study from the National Association of System Heads and Education Trust. The study found that while the college enrollment rates for students increased, their graduation rates did not improve enough to close the graduation gap significantly.

Report

A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education

This is the third major report the Lumina Foundation has released to assess the nation’s progress toward Lumina’s goal “to increase the percentage of Americans with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025.” The report found that only 38.3 percent of working-age Americans held a two- or four-year college degree in 2010, concluding that “if we continue on our current rate of production, only 79.8 million working-age Americans (46.5% of those aged 25-64) will hold degrees by 2025…This will leave us more than 23 million degrees short of the national 60 percent goal.”

Key Coverage

Counting Justices

Written in February 2012, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court decided to consider an affirmative action in college admissions case originating in Florida, this article examines the prospects—and potential consequences—of the pending ruling. The story offers a concise summary of some of the court’s previous rulings on the controversial practice.

Key Coverage

Lure of Chinese Tuition Pushes Out Asian-Americans

This December 2011 article looks at a side effect of an emerging trend. As public colleges as universities enroll more international and out-of-state students—who pay higher tuition prices—Asian-American students are alleging that they are being rejected and replaced with students from China and other Asian nations.

Key Coverage

Financial Aid Not Always Going to Neediest College Students

This November 2011 report looks at a key dilemma in many college admission/financial aid decisions: merit aid. As colleges compete to attract the students deemed most desirable—generally because of credentials such as high test scores or grade point averages—scholarship money that might have been directed to students with greater financial need often gets redirected to the more coveted applicants.

Report

2010-2011 Snapshot Report

The NSCRC examined its databases of information on college students to produce a series of reports that look at national trends in student persistence, mobility, concurrent enrollment, along with information regarding adult learners.

Report

The Case for Change in College Admissions: A Call for Individual and Collective Leadership

The Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice and the Education Conservancy gathered 180 leaders in admissions for colleges across the country to examine the practices they used to choose which students to enroll. The report concludes that the process is an “inwardly focused selective admissions system – one that has evolved to advance individual interests of colleges while falling short of serving the ideals traditionally associated with higher education.

Key Coverage

Application Inflation

EWA 2010 National Reporting Contest winner. With skyrocketing numbers of applicants and declining percentages of students accepted, how are admissions offices handling the multiple pressures they face? Are schools bringing in more and more accomplished students, or just the same kind of enrollment class compared to students from a decade ago?

Organization

The Institute for College Access and Success

The Institute for College Access and Success is an advocacy group that works to promote college affordability. Based in San Francisco, they can offer perspectives on various aspects of college costs, such as net price calculators, student debt, and income-based repayment of student loans.