NACAC 2017: A Recap

Make no mistake: diversity and inclusion were the most-discussed topics at NACAC 2017 in Boston. The opening keynote, helmed by Dr. Shaun Harper of the University of Southern California, burned four words into my mind: “This, too, is racism.” His speech, before thousands of professionals, gave me chills as he spilled truth after truth. Inside Higher Ed wrote an excellent recap. I am unable to match his words and the passion with which he spoke them, but I’d like to highlight two concepts he touched upon:

  1. He explained how students of color are routinely underserved by the people who should be looking out for them in their high schools. Dr. Harper spoke of undermatching and how minority students are routinely discouraged by authority figures from applying to top colleges or universities.
  2. Harper challenged admission offices to become more inclusive in their hiring and to be reflective of prospective students.

If you’d like to follow Dr. Harper on Twitter, I recommend it.

Other sessions at the conference focused very much on how institutions can permanently enshrine a commitment to diversity within their campus climate. An emphasis was made on needing to build strategic plans. Senior leaders challenged their peers to take on diversity and inclusion as one of their personal burdens to bear – to use the privilege they may have in society to assist people who enjoy less privilege.

One senior leader noted that this approach has resulted in tangible results for her university’s Muslim students: hosting relevant programs during Ramadan, installing reflection rooms for prayer, and training student tour guides to be culturally fluent.

In terms that may seem stark, it was also pointed out that diversity and inclusion make good business sense. Enrollment growth and retention can follow a smart strategic plan.

David Burge, who took over as president of NACAC at the conference, immediately used his position to stand up for what’s right. Here is a short blurb from a NACAC press release:

In his first speech as NACAC’s top elected leader, Burge challenged his colleagues to promote opportunity for all individuals. He also applauded the association’s recent advocacy work, including efforts made on behalf of undocumented students.”

“We oppose ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in the strongest possible terms,” Burge said, earning roaring applause from attendees at NACAC’s Annual Membership Meeting. “We will be champions for these students, supporting legislation and appropriate legal action at every turn.”

Next year’s conference will take place in Salt Lake City.


Ryan Collins is an admission counselor at Baldwin Wallace University.

10 Things I Learned at the 2017 Summer Institute

The Ohio Association for College Admission Counseling (OACAC) hosted its Annual Summer Institute for its newest admissions professionals and high school counselors this past week at Bowling Green State University (BGSU). Through mentor group discussions, panels, and presentations, I learned everything I needed to know (and more) to conquer the upcoming travel season, and the rest of my first year as an admissions counselor. Here are the top 10 things I learned at the 2017 Summer Institute (SI):

10) Our job, as admissions professionals and high school counselors, is to change lives

This motto was introduced to the SI attendees within the first sixty seconds of the first featured speaker’s address. Van Wright, Assistant to the Vice Provost for Strategic Enrollment Planning at BGSU, shared his passion for shaping the futures of students and their families. He made it clear that our job would be difficult; whether that meant answering many questions time and time again, or dropping a Big Mac on our white t-shirts during travel. None of the challenges matter, Van said, when a student you recruited asks to take a photo with you at their college/university graduation. You helped them get their foot in the door. You provided them the opportunity to succeed in higher education. You changed their life, and they will go on to change others.

9) Nobody wants to grow up to be an admissions counselor

It’s true – we all wanted to be doctors, astronauts, singers, and even garbage truck drivers (because we thought it meant a one-day work week), but we did not discover the world of admissions until we experienced the application process as high school students. Most of us “fell into” college admissions; and for that, we will be forever grateful.

8) To quote High School Musical, “we’re all in this together”

SI taught me that I have an immense support system in my career, outside of my office (although I must admit my office support system is the, S/O to my University of Akron colleagues!) We may be recruiting the same students, but ultimately, we all want what is best for those students. We are not each other’s competition, but are instead each other’s backbones. I now know who I can turn to for a Tide stick when I inevitably drop that Big Mac on my outfit on the road.

7) Speaking of music, admissions professionals LOVE karaoke

Seriously. Nothing unites a group of strangers quite like covers of Lil Jon, Lady Gaga, and an eerily realistic rendition of New Edition’s “Can You Stand the Rain”.

6) To go from being a good counselor to a great one, you must go the extra mile

BGSU’s very own Sarah Zachrich and Ali Tracy shared their tips about how to become the best admissions counselor in the office and on the road. They stressed the importance of offering a personalized experience to each student that asks for one. Although we are typically swimming in to-do lists, and it might be tempting to push students to attend a larger visit day, it is crucial to remember that these personalized visits are invaluable. Call the financial aid office, connect with faculty, and email every current student you know to make these visits happen – because prospective students will notice your efforts. Great counselors eliminate the phrase “that’s not my job” from their vocabulary.

5) Don’t be afraid to ask for more responsibility, but remember you can also ask for help

Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone to take on further responsibilities is the best way to grow personally and professionally. Evaluate what skills you want to develop, and discuss opportunities with your supervisor. On the other hand, if you feel that your current work quality will suffer, don’t be afraid to decline an additional opportunity provided by your supervisor. Remember that your prospective students (as well as your mental health and well-being) deserve the best version of yourself. Don’t overload your plate with too much responsibility.

4) There are many resources available to help you master territory management

I can’t begin to tell you how many gasps I heard after Thiel College Senior Admissions Counselor, Jake Kos, mapped out his travel schedule on BatchGeo. “Where was this tool when I planned my travel?!” was the common response. Jake also presented the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Ohio School Report Card, and School Digger. These tools provide data about public and private high schools across the nation including student/teacher ratios, ethnic makeup, student performance, enrollment, graduation rates, and more. These data can help to determine which schools in your territory are worth visiting.

3) Bring your business card with you EVERYWHERE you go

If I didn’t already learn this lesson firsthand at SI, Adrea Spoon, BGSU’s Director of Admissions, imprinted this message in my mind. You never know where you might meet a prospective student or their parents; it could be at Cedar Point in Sandusky or at Cheers Restaurant in Boston! If your business card is always handy, you will have endless opportunities to grow your network and market your institution.

2) If you want to enhance your career, you need to get involved

Whether you join an OACAC committee or volunteer at your institution’s move-in day, it is critical to get involved. Volunteering allows you to form relationships and build your professional network; and we have all heard the expression “it’s who you know, not what you know”. Volunteer work also provides you with skills training that you may not be utilizing in your office. Get out and get involved! Again – don’t forget to bring that business card!

1) The admissions profession is the greatest profession in the world

Sure, we work weeknights and weekends sometimes. Yes, other times we forget to schedule enough time to eat a real lunch. But what other profession allows you to drive a brand-new rental car to a comfy hotel bed, after changing the lives of students and their families every day? 🙂

If you attended this year’s Summer Institute, what did you learn?


By: Bre Koch

Admissions Counselor

The University of Akron


“What are the police like on this campus?” It’s not a question that we get too frequently, however, with current events it’s a question that we as admissions professionals need to be prepared to answer. While the majority of admissions personnel can recite facts about campus safety from rote memorization, it is imperative to dive deeper into what it is that your respective institution’s campus safety looks like. There are a variety of ways that admissions professionals can learn more about their institutions’ campus safety department. These include but are not limited to inviting campus safety to speak with admissions staff at an admissions meeting, inviting campus safety to participate at an admissions open house event, or reaching out to see if shadowing a campus safety officer is an option for staff members. Through forming a partnership with campus safety, admissions staff can increase their own knowledge about how their institutions’ campus safety works. There are also broader initiatives that can be discussed with a prospective student, such as ways that campus safety engages with the university community.

Schools such as Ohio State University utilize Facebook and Twitter to engage their communities via social media. Using these outlets, the police are able to engage their campus community and quickly update them on pertinent situations. Ohio University’s Coffee with a Cop program is a discussion forum where students are able to speak with the Ohio University Police Department and get to know who the officers are and how they plan on keeping Ohio University’s campus safe. Through this program, students are able to get to know the campus officers on a more personal level. Rutgers University has recently implemented a new program, Text to RUPD, where students are able to text the police for non-emergency situations.

As an admissions professional it is important to not only know statistics and facts about your intuitions’ campus safety department, but also know how the department works to engage with the community.  Being knowledgeable about opportunities for students to engage with campus safety (outside of a crisis situations) is a strong talking point for addressing students concerns when it comes to campus safety.

Christopher Williams
Admission Advisor
Ohio University


FAQ Sheet: Financial Aid and Undocumented Students

Have questions about how financial aid and eligibility for undocumented or DACA students? The U.S. Department of Education has drafted a very informative and concise document that answers many frequently asked questions regarding general information about these students, eligibility for financial aid, and how to complete the FAFSA: financial-aid-and-undocumented-students.

Financial aid can be a vexing process for students of all backgrounds and to best serve all populations, admissions officers should ensure that they know the appropriate resources for their students. Please be aware of your institution’s policies regarding undocumented, Dreamers, and DACA students even if you do not consistently work closely with these populations. For some additional insight into the different immigration terms and categories, we have an informal guide that may assist you with discerning the different populations you may interact with:

Immigration Insight

U.S. citizen, U.S. national, foreign national, eligible noncitizen … Have you heard or seen these terms, but perhaps are confused about what they truly mean and the distinct differences between them? Highly complex and controversial, immigration continues to be a major area of focus in our country. Regardless of our respective personal opinions on the matter, as education professionals it is critical that we remain abreast of immigration-related issues and policies as we endeavor to foster inclusion, access, and success for all students in our daily work.

There are a host of citizenship, immigrant, and non-immigrant statuses and categories in the United States and each one has a unique set of characteristics and conditions that affect eligibility for financial aid, employment, and other numerous aspects of life. There are also countless related terms that are important to know.

While I am not an international education professional or immigration law expert, as a bilingual Enrollment Advisor who serves a wealth of students who fall into various immigrant categories, I have become a de facto resource for students and colleagues on our campus and in the greater community. Here is a very basic look at a few terms that you may encounter frequently in your work with students.

*Please note that this post should be used as an informal guide and is in no way meant to be an in-depth, comprehensive assertion on immigration law, nor is it intended to provide conclusive answers regarding immigration law or rights. Please consult with a legal professional for the most accurate, up-to-date information.

Click each term for more details…

CitizenA legally recognized subject or national of the United States (the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Marianna Islands), either by birth or by naturalization.

Immigrant – A person who comes to the United States to reside permanently, whether lawfully or without inspection or valid legally authorized clearance.

Nonimmigrant – A person with permanent residence outside the United States who enters the United States on a temporary basis for a specific purpose.

Naturalized citizen – A foreign citizen or national who has been granted U.S. citizenship after voluntarily undergoing the naturalization process and fulfilling the requirements established by the U.S. Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Lawful permanent resident – A person who has been granted authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis through one of several different ways. This person is not a citizen of the United States, but resides in the U.S. under legally recognized and lawfully recorded permanent residence as an immigrant. Permanent residents are also known as “permanent resident aliens,” “resident alien permit holders,” and “green card holders.”

Refugee – A person who has fled his or her country of origin because of past persecution or a fear of future persecution based upon race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Applicants file for inclusion in the U.S. refugee program from outside of the United States and must be approved prior to entry. Refugees are required by law to apply for permanent residency one year after being admitted to the United States.

Asylee – A person who has been granted asylum status who has fled his or her country of origin because of past persecution or a fear of future persecution based upon race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Applicants are already in the United States or are seeking admission at a port of entry and may apply regardless of country of origin or current immigration status. These individuals have the option to apply for permanent residency one year after being granted asylum, but they are not required to do so.

Foreign national – A person who legally resides in a specific country, but is not a citizen of that country. Permanent residents, refugees, and asylees are all types of foreign nationals in the United States.

U.S. national – All U.S. citizens are considered to be U.S. nationals, but not all nationals are U.S. citizens. In many contexts related to education, employment, and federal aid, a U.S. national specifically refers to a person who is a native of American Samoa or Swain’s Island, which are both outlying possessions of the United States. These U.S. nationals are not U.S. citizens.

Eligible noncitizen – A term used by the U.S. Department of Education for federal student aid purposes. Includes U.S. nationals, U.S. permanent residents and conditional permanent residents (with an I-551, I-151, or I-551C), and eligible individuals with an I-94 who have one of the following designations: refugee, asylee, Cuban-Haitian entrant, conditional entrant, victim of human trafficking (T visa holder), and parolee.

Non-immigrant temporary visas – A visa issued to people with a permanent residence outside the United States who seek temporary entry to the United States for a specific purpose. This includes certain tourists or visitors for business (B), students (F, M), exchange visitors (J), victims of human trafficking (T), victims of criminal activity (U), certain classes of temporary workers, and a variety of specialized categories, among others.

  • Some non-immigrant statuses have rigid time limits for the person’s stay in the United States, while others do not.
  • People with some non-immigrant statuses are allowed to be employed in the United States, and others are not.
  • With the exception of T visa holders, non-immigrant temporary visa holders are not eligible to receive federal student aid, though they may be able to receive other financial aid from their respective state or college.

I-94 – The Arrival-Departure Record, in either paper or electronic format, issued by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer to foreign visitors entering the United States.

Permanent resident card – An identification card (USCIS Form I-551) attesting to the permanent resident status of a person in the United States. Commonly referred to as a green card. Formerly called an alien registration card or alien registration receipt card (INS Form I-151).

Useful resources:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol:

U.S. Department of Homeland Security:

Federal Student Aid:


Shola Odumade, M.B.A.
Enrollment Advisor
Sinclair Community College

[News Brief] The Supreme Court heard arguments in Fisher vs University of Texas – Austin

On December 9th, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Fisher vs University of Texas – Austin.  The case questions the legality of a race-conscious college admission plan.  The Court is expected to issue a decision in June 2016.  Below are two resources that may be of interest.

NACAC’s Admitted Blog post on yesterday’s hearing:

NACAC’s Diversity in Admission:

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like additional information.

Michael Rose
Associate Director for Government Relations
National Association for College Admission Counseling
1050 N. Highland St., Suite 400  |  Arlington, VA 22201  |  |  @nacacwonk

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); Opportunity to the Unauthorized Immigrant

It was in 1994 that I immigrated to “El Norte” (The North).

This is what many Latin American individuals call this great land of opportunity. The choice was not made by me, the choice was made by my father that saw an opportunity for growth. Coming to a strange land meant leaving my identity (home). Oftentimes, people leave their children, your life as a farmer, and the most fearful part about this migration is that you have no idea what lays ahead. I remember running and crawling through fields of Arizona and swimming rivers of Guatemala and Mexico. Running at night and sleeping by day.

According to the Boston Globe more than 6,000 people have died trying to cross the Mexico-United States border since 1998. Young children, women, and young men have died trying to cross the border. At times women and children are involved in rape and human trafficking, as well as mules for drugs, but that’s another story. However, there are many that have made it to begin a new life in the U.S.A. As the years pass, many individuals like myself live in shadows and not  exposed to a normal life in the United States because they are afraid of deportation.

According to PEW Research Center about 65,000 Unauthorized children graduate from high schools all over the United States. Some of these students do not know that they are Undocumented or Unauthorized individuals in the States, until a parent decides to share that information with them. Now a young child full of deception, anger, and not connected, it is very hard to understand the concept of immigrant. It is heartbreaking for them, at one point thinking that college was an option, now it is a struggle to achieve or an impossible dream to catch. Hence, where the DREAMERS notion comes to be talked about.

With all that has been said, there are so many students that are wanting to go onto a university or college to make a better living, to get a better education, or to experience the whole “college experience” that their peers talk about. Education currently serves to them a gateway to be a better person that can contribute to society. Eleanor Roosevelt said “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”. Students had no choice. According to their parents, they had to be here. How can these students be an individual of DREAMERS if we keep closing the doors for them. So what does it mean to be Unauthorized?  

Typically, a person has  “no papers”. That means that you do not have a social security number. Not having a social security number you have no way of working or being eligible for a driver’s license, nor can the student apply for federal student aid or FAFSA. The land of opportunities has now turn into a land of struggles. However, the U.S. Government and the Obama Administration has worked very hard to finally see some progress in the lines of Immigration Reform. Finally, for some, prayers were answered, On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal called The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). To find out more on eligibility visit the Department of Homeland Security’s page (DHS) for additional information; eligibility, renewal of DACA, application, and what defines DACA.   

Going back to helping students continue their education, I believe that education is huge component of receiving DACA, as well as if an Official at DHS sees your education progress that’s a big part of looking great on the application. One major part that I always encourage students is number one, to apply for DACA (if you can be able to afford it) and number two is to look for 2 year community colleges that can receive admissions to those students who are DACA recipients or not. It is not that colleges do not want to admit students with situations as this, it’s that some states do not allow for students to apply for admissions being Unauthorized. Which then brings on the issue of applying for colleges. Nerdwallet has some great insights of how to go about applying for college and as a DACA student. By clicking here you can find out the steps on how to apply as a DACA or Unauthorized Immigrant student. Also, a great amount of work has been done from non-for profit organizations that can help with students that are DACA recipients or Unauthorized Immigrant Students that are looking to finance their college education.

An organization that is located in Palo Alto, CA helps students with finding schools that they have partnered with to help students seek opportunities to go to college. The mission of QuestBridge is a powerful platform bridging the nation’s brightest, under-served youth and leading institutions of higher education and further opportunities. We are an aggregator of excellence. QuestBridge provides a single, internet-based meeting point which links exceptional students with colleges, scholarship providers, enrichment programs, employers, and organizations seeking students who have excelled despite obstacles. By facilitating these exchanges, QuestBridge aims to increase the percentage of talented low-income students attending the nation’s best universities and the ranks of national leadership itself.

Also, the best part of these colleges and universities is that they provide a great amount of institutional scholarships. If you would like to know which schools are part of the QuestBridge please visit: QuestBridge. It will provide much information on scholarships and as well as opportunities to even apply. This is a great opportunities for students to get engaged in and also it provides a gateway to help them understand that there is a way or a possibility that they can too go to college.

I hope that this has helped in making it more understanding of what Unauthorized individuals go through and as well as the struggles of what some of the brightest students go through in making a choice to go to school or not because policies put into place that hinder them from going to college.

Alex Bonilla, MBA
Multicultural Recruitment Coordinator
Defiance College