NACAC View: Bans on Critical Race Theory are Harmful to Students and Educators

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By Crystal E. Newby and David A. Hawkins

To say race relations in the United States have been tumultuous over the last year is an understatement. Many Americans and individuals worldwide watched the horrific footage of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police in May 2020. And although one of his killers has since been convicted and jailed, we continue to watch the loved ones of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor fight for justice. It seems like every day there is an incident in the news where a Black student is forced to cut their hair to compete in a sporting event or to walk in their high school graduation ceremony. There have even been instances when white educators made derogatory remarks toward students of color when they thought no one was listening.

Just recently, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Nikole Hannah-Jones, was denied tenure at her alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for a role in which it’s traditionally granted. Many allege the decision was due to her extensive involvement in the 1619 Project—an initiative of The New York Times Magazine that analyzes how slavery shaped American political, social, and economic institutions. These events are just a small sample of what BIPOC individuals face daily, yet some state officials have proposed banning discussions of systemic racism in schools, particularly any context of critical race theory (CRT).

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US College Admission and “Crazy Rich” Chinese

In reading NACAC’s spring Journal article, “History of Chinese Student Mobility and Today’s Trends,” I was struck by some of the differences in my experiences and observations working with Chinese families, who by law are not permitted to attend international schools.

Working on the ground in China gave me a lot of insight about why Chinese families choose the US for their child’s education. In 2009, when I was first working in China, it quickly became clear that many Chinese love Americans and everything American—food, music, clothes, education….

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Walking the Virtual Quad: How to Build a Thriving Enrollment Community

By Katy Kappler, Co-Founder and CEO, InScribe, and Dr. Jonathan Huck, Research Scientist, WGU Labs

The decision to apply to college, even for older students, can be a lonely, high-stakes journey. Price tags are often shrouded in mystery. Outcomes for graduates can be vague. And confusing terms (registrar, bursar, oh my!) appear at every turn.

These challenges, however, are often mitigated at traditional universities, where students can find answers and build a sense of connection with an institution by walking its grounds, smelling its flowers, and taking lively tours. Unfortunately, these advantages are absent in the online learning space.

How, then, to foster a sense of belonging among applicants who may never set foot on a physical campus? We met this challenge through a recent pilot at Western Governors University (WGU), where we created a virtual community for prospective students to connect with peers, staff, and alumni before deciding to enroll.

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Rethinking the Admission Process 

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We’ve just passed the point in the higher education admission cycle where, traditionally, college applicants receive a flurry of decisions all at once—an increasingly stressful time for students that often coincides with spring break. It caused me to think about how we do business and I was encouraged to learn that, in conjunction with the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), NACAC has launched a commission “to reimagine financial aid and college admission in the pursuit of racial equity in postsecondary education.” It is intended to rethink everything.
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Bridging the Gap Between Curriculum and Career

Students don’t graduate for many reasons, but one critical reason, within an institution’s power to change, is that students don’t see a connection between their studies and a possible career. Way too often higher education relegates career preparation to select majors, separate classes, and special offices on campus. But breaking down these barriers helps all students succeed.

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The College Transition: Tips for Students with Disabilities

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Preparation is key for all college-bound students, but thinking through what you’ll need to be successful is especially important for students with disabilities.

Here are some ideas and insights to help you settle into college.

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Reframing the ‘Lost’ College Visit

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Editor’s note: A version of this column was first published by the Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools.

As we find ourselves in pandemic spring 2.0, college visiting is not possible for the majority of juniors just beginning their college journeys and seniors finalizing enrollment plans. When my mother was alive she would say, “If you can’t fix it, feature it.”  Her sound advice reminds me to invert the problem of canceled college tours. Instead of wringing hands over the lost college road trip, we can emphasize the opportunity facing institutions and students. Covid is inviting us to reinvent college discovery and student engagement.

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Poll: US Families Want More Postsecondary Options

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Although most American parents want their children to complete a bachelor’s degree, a significant number of families would like other options for their students, according to a new national survey.

The opinion poll, which was released last week by Gallup and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, found that 46 percent of respondents preferred an alternate postsecondary path for their child, such as community college, skill training, military service, or paid employment.

In addition, although 84 percent of parents of current middle and high school students said they were satisfied with the four-year college, two-year college, and/or technical training programs currently available, 45 percent wished more alternatives were offered.

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