The Facts and Feelings of Choosing Your College or University: Tips

Bryan Rutledge, Director of College Counseling, Woodward Academy, College Park, GA

If you are a counselor trying to help students make college decisions this spring (or summer), we hope you will find these tips helpful to share with students!

The waiting is finally over, and you know your admission results. Congratulations on the acceptances you have earned. In addition to meeting all your academic, co-curricular, and family obligations, you have been welcomed to college or university communities and your path to a bright future. Now you get to choose; but how do you go about it? Here are some tips, and of course, remember you can also consult your college or school counselor.

1. Decide about any waitlists and focus on your options.

If you are on a waitlist for admission, follow any directions to reaffirm interest should you wish to pursue it. Then, set the matter aside and focus on making a choice among the available options. If you decline a waitlist offer, you might create an option for someone who would like to have it. You can withdraw your application to any school where you have been wait-listed or admitted and are no longer interested. Think of those who will benefit from your anonymous gift.

2. Be creative about researching colleges and universities.

Not being able to visit colleges and universities in person is a hassle, but there are work-arounds. Some are offering visits by appointment, and others may do so in the near future. Virtual tours and admitted student online events can help as well. Reach out to current college students to get a diversity of opinions. You can contact the administrators and student leaders in identity and affinity groups (sometimes via social media) to learn what campus life is really like and what kind of community resources are available. Some colleges and universities are extending the May 1 enrollment confirmation deadline, creating more time for you to research and weigh your options. Stay in touch with the undergraduate admissions offices via their websites. Most have admission reps designated by territory. Email this person with your questions or concerns. Don’t hesitate to reach out and pose questions to admissions and financial aid counselors and to follow up with them. They want you to enroll and are eager to help.

3. Weigh your options and lean on your wise advisors.

Ask yourself, “What is the current state of my interests and plans, and have they changed, or have I changed, in the past year? What do I think now about the size, cost, diversity and inclusion, distance from home, academic and career opportunities, co-curricular life, virtual or in person learning, and surrounding community of my college or university options? What kind of residential life suits me, and are learning/living communities available? Would more research lead me to a destination that will feel like a second home? Am I choosing based on vague reasons or thoughtful analysis?” Some students organize the pros, cons, and offerings of each college or university on a spreadsheet. Also, now is the time to turn to the wise advisers in your life. Instead of asking them where you ought to enroll, consider asking, “Would you describe my strengths and interests?” You can take it from there.

4. If you’re undecided about your college major or college life, reach out directly to professors, administrators, or college students.

Many students are undecided about their major or career, and that’s fine. At the same time, you’ve probably narrowed it down or have combinations in mind, and that’s all you need to launch your college major research. But how do you get started? Email your admission counselor or just email the academic department(s) at your prospective school. Ask if you can communicate with a professor in your preferred field of study or an upper-level student majoring in that field. These conversations could be game-changers.

5. Check in with the Career Planning Office.

One of your most vital resources is the career planning office. Call or email them as well, tell them the majors/minors that most interest you, and ask what they can do to guide and assist students with your particular interests. What are their services for internships, alumni networks, popular companies that interview, summer jobs, interest surveys, resume and interview services, and career/professional school placement? Estimate all the time and money you and your family will invest in your undergraduate experience. After you have caught your breath, ask yourself whether your outcome in four short years is worth some college major and career planning. You should build a working relationship with your school’s career planning department no later than your first semester.

6. Consider how you’ll finance college.

Let’s introduce the elephant in the room: Money. Money isn’t everything, but it’s very important. Choices you make now will profoundly affect your future financial life. Low interest college loans can enable futures that would otherwise be out of reach. At the same time, consider that, in 2019, the average debt for Georgia college graduates was more than $28,000. Consider the impact of debt on your early career and what it will mean for your lifestyle, freedom, and graduate or professional school choices. Ensure that you thoroughly understand the details of any financial awards; if you’re not sure, reach out to the financial aid office. If you have been invited to a school’s honors program, contact the program director to learn about all the enrichment it provides. If you haven’t been invited, find out how you might earn your way in after enrollment if that looks appealing.

Once you have enrolled and gravitate toward your academic major(s), speak with professors about departmental funds that could enhance your learning. Perhaps you could become a tutor or research/technical assistant. (What a terrific way to network with faculty!) After your first year, student jobs may open in the residence life office. Be creative: If you can construct a website, whip up tasty pastries, or bench press a car, you can make money. Also, consider the potential earning power of your college major. If you are planning a major in the humanities, social sciences, or fine arts, that’s great; yet it might be a good idea to consider adding a minor or double-major in something like computer science, business, natural science, or communications. The good news is that colleges and universities are more flexible than ever at helping you tailor your undergraduate experience to your particular needs and plans.

7. Keep going, and keep your sense of humor.

While these tips are a good starting place, there is so much guidance available, including recommended reading.

Websites:

https://www.cappex.com/greenlight

https://www.coalitionforcollegeaccess.org/

General guides:

The Truth About College Admission: A Family Guide to Getting In and Staying Together by Brennan Bernard and Rick Clark; There Is Life After College by Jeffrey Selingo; Frank Bruni’s Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be; and Colleges Worth Your Money by Belasco, Bergman, and Trivetto.

Remember, these simple words will see you through many challenges: Own your education, keep up, and keep a sense of humor!

Celebrating HBCU Excellence!

Jameia Tennie (pronouns: she/her), Director, Office of Undergraduate Admissions, North Carolina A&T State University

The pursuit of post-secondary education continues to open the door to endless possibilities for students across the globe.  Each year, SACAC professionals are privileged to support students as they make these important collegiate decisions.  Choosing to attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) is one of the best decisions that I have made!  That decision for myself and so many other HBCU alumni has charted the path for us to display our greatness across multiple industries.  As a two-time HBCU graduate (Hampton University & North Carolina A&T State University), I am proud to champion the celebration and continued success of HBCUs.

Since the 19th century, HBCUs have been established to provide education and training for students primarily of African descent. Eighty-nine percent of HBCUs are located in the southern region of the United States, providing service to student populations ranging from 300 to over 12,000.  These diverse classified institutions provide academic excellence in STEM, agriculture, business, education, law and liberal arts.  The family atmosphere, legacy significance and school spirit shape each institution in a unique way.  Through internships, academic engagement and service opportunities, HBCU students gain a multi-faceted educational experience that prepares them for the global workforce.  These experiences allow graduates to go on to blaze trails in their respective industries.  They journey on to become app inventors, astronauts, CEOs of fortune 500 companies, doctors, educators, engineers, lawyers, or even the first Black and South Asian woman to serve the United States of America as Vice President.  HBCUs continue their commitment to developing the next generation of leaders.

Keep shining HBCU family!

SACAC Note:

Please make sure to register for the next webinar in our Spring Series, “Highlighting the Impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” which will occur, Thursday, February 18th @ 11:30 AM CT/12:30 PM ET.

Historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, are a beacon of hope in Black and Brown communities. Whether it be their illustrious history, cutting-edge majors and programs, or notable alumni, HBCUs transcend cultural divides to unite communities through education and access. Join us as we celebrate Black History Month to learn about their impact on higher education and our society at large, what differentiates them from predominantly white institutions or PWIs, and how to educate your students and staff on their efficacy.

Panelists:

Bryan Cooper – Associate Director of Admission, Xavier University of Louisiana
Jarred Honora – Dean of Alumni Relations, Crescent City Schools
Sydney Dowd-Smith – Associate Director of Admission, North Carolina A&T State University
Sandria Mason – Admissions Recruiter, Savannah State University
TJ Snowden, Ed. D. – Director of Admissions & Recruitment, Morehouse College

Register for the webinar

 

The Potential of a Promise

Andrew Colson, Admissions Counselor & Program Manager of the UAB Birmingham Promise, The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

What is the Birmingham Promise and why does it matter?

When the Birmingham Promise Scholarship was first announced by the city of Birmingham, Alabama, in the fall of 2019, I was equally surprised and excited.  My surprise was due to the generosity of the scholarship: up to 4 years of tuition fully covered (after accounting for grants/merit-scholarships), applicable to any public 2- or 4-year college or university in Alabama, transferable between community colleges and universities.

My excitement stemmed from the realization of how many doors would now be open to graduates of the Birmingham City School system.  One of the key factors that contributes to any student’s college decision when determining best fit is affordability.  As we all know, the average tuition cost of an undergraduate degree program has gone up consistently in the past few decades, while the need for an undergraduate degree within our economy has increased along a similar pace.  The Birmingham City School system serves over 23,000 students, many of whom come from lower-middle class and impoverished households.  For many of these students, the cost of college is the primary barrier between them and obtaining an undergraduate degree.  With the introduction of the Birmingham Promise Scholarship, that financial barrier was greatly reduced and many of these students now have access to higher education opportunities that may otherwise be unattainable.

Taking it one step further — The UAB Birmingham Promise

In early 2020, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) became the first official academic partner school of the Birmingham Promise Scholarship, pledging a one-to-one match of the tuition scholarship for each student. However, UAB decided that its contributions to this cohort of students would not stop at the financial support.  Even before the pandemic became our reality, it was clear that the Promise cohort would be best invested in not only with monetary resources, but with additional student life and academic support. UAB specifically designed support that would ease students into the transition to college to help them feel supported and successful as they completed each semester at UAB. This idea resulted in the creation of the UAB Birmingham Promise, a series of programs and staff that are solely dedicated to this specific cohort of students’ success, support, and retention.

In terms of staff, I personally have had the honor of being the program manager for the UAB Birmingham Promise since its inception in early 2020.  As the program manager, I serve as a consistent point of contact for students from the time they are recruited to their graduation from UAB. I am able to offer assistance with student admission and financial aid, networking support with university and community partners, coordination of workshops and events, and serve as an instructor for their required First Year Experience (FYE) course.  This consistent point of contact offers students a sense of familiarity when dealing with a larger institution such as UAB by helping them feel more secure as they advance through the application process and their enrollment.

But perhaps the most exciting aspect of the UAB Birmingham Promise is its peer mentoring program. UAB partnered with the Birmingham Education Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that specifically works with Birmingham City School students and graduates in workforce and educational development. With the help of the Birmingham Education Foundation, we were able to recruit and hire 10 current UAB students who are also alumni of the BCS system to create the Promise Mentor Team. This team consists of students from varied backgrounds, majors, and campus organizations. The team is comprised of sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have demonstrated interest in giving back to the Birmingham community and supporting this cohort of their fellow BCS alumni.

The Promise Mentors for the 2020-2021 school year began their outreach to the incoming freshman cohort on June 1, 2020.  During the summer, Mentors would rotate to a new group of 5-7 Mentees each week so that each mentor could get to know each mentee by the start of the Fall semester.  Every 2-3 weeks, we would have larger cohort-wide meetings to play games and discuss topics related to the transition to college, encouraging the entire cohort to build a sense of community with each other.  While COVID-19 limited some of our initial plans for in-person meetings, our Mentors prevailed in making sure each student was involved and felt seen during an (for lack of a less-tired word) “unprecedented” summer vacation.

The Promise Mentor Team’s summer outreach culminated in the Virtual UAB Birmingham Promise Welcome Weekend in early August.  During this 4-day program that was developed by UAB and Birmingham Education Foundation staff, Promise Scholars and their parents met with UAB Faculty, advisors, support staff, student organizations, community partners, and the mayor of Birmingham to prepare them for what to expect as they began college. We also wanted to ensure students were familiar with not only the academic and student life resources available, but also with those specific people on campus they could turn to for support both on and off campus.  For their part, Promise Mentors led workshops that focused on character building, maximizing one’s student experience, and tips for avoiding academic and social pitfalls common to college freshmen.  It was an incredibly edifying experience for both the Promise Mentors and the Promise Scholars and set the tone for what the Fall semester would entail.

What the UAB Birmingham Promise has meant during the COVID-19 era

Promise Mentors were officially assigned their permanent Mentee pairing upon completion of the Welcome Weekend. These pairings were based on Mentor and Mentee feedback on their interactions over the summer. Mentors are required to meet with each of their assigned Mentees for a minimum of 1.5 hours each week. That communication can take place through any medium that either Mentor or Mentee prefers. They tend to enjoy texting, doing group video meetings, and socially distanced activities. What’s been remarkable about the mentor team is their ability to go beyond these expectations and enter in their own personal dynamic and interactions with each student in addition to the group as a whole. From a student engagement aspect, the Promise Mentor relationship has been successful as well. Mentors have completed game nights with their students, connecting them with organizations they are already involved with such as Greek life or Anime Club. Some have even gone long-boarding on campus, which is becoming more of a fad each year. From an academic aspect, Mentors took the liberty of creating group study times for the entire cohort every few weeks, especially as we drew closer to midterms and finals. The most amazing thing about this semester has been, even in the face of COVID-19 and the restrictions it places upon us, the energy of the mentors and their mentees’ engagement has not waned. The Mentors have been great advocates for their Mentees, often bringing to light barriers or issues that may not otherwise have been captured outside of this mentoring program. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an additional source of stress for already anxious first-year college students. I believe that without these Mentors, and without the Birmingham Promise, this specific cohort would be in far more dire straits and would be much less engaged.

The Birmingham Promise has great potential to change the face of education in the city of Birmingham and how UAB engages with its local community. But its lasting impact will come from the individual stories from both Promise Mentors and Promise Scholars engaged in the program. Each student has benefitted from connecting with one another whether they be Mentor or Mentee. As this program grows, I am personally excited to see scholars become Mentors, Mentors become leaders, and those leaders investing further into the Birmingham Promise to create the continuum of care that our local community and the global community need to succeed. The Birmingham Promise has done a wonderful job making college more accessible to students who traditionally experience financial barriers. However, it is the personal touches such as the Promise Mentor team, that will truly determine a student’s success and happiness while enrolled at their college. If we can continue to invest in these financial and personal supports, I am hopeful that we will see not only increased retention year to year for this cohort but also a higher level of engagement in the university and in the surrounding community.

 

You’ve Got a Friend in Me

Shannon Grimsley (left), Outreach Program Director, Get2College/Woodward Hines Education Foundation

Brandi Lyndall (right), Director of GEAR UP Outreach, Get2College/Woodward Hines Education Foundation

When students across Mississippi were sent home from high schools and colleges due to COVID-19 in March 2020, our world, and theirs, changed. Get2College responded professionally in the way many of us reacted personally – we called our friends! We immediately realized the best way to reach students would require us to work even more closely with Mississippi colleges and universities if we are to succeed in meeting the needs of the students we all serve.

Get2College is a program of the Woodward Hines Education Foundation, and we serve students, families, and educators, helping students in Mississippi get to and through college. Although this has been an unusually difficult and unpredictable time for all of us, we want to share what we have learned thus far. 

We need partners more than ever. Every two years, Get2College hosts an Admissions Counselor Summit. This event is designed to provide college admissions colleagues with information on issues of college access: entry, financial aid, and college planning. In August 2020, we shifted to a two-hour virtual event, and 95 admissions professionals representing 23 institutions across Mississippi joined us. To maintain the highly interactive nature of this training (even with the shift to virtual), the agenda included three sessions of round-robin, small group (3-4 people) networking, KAHOOT! trivia game covering colleges access hot topics, and a guest presenter on implicit bias from the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation that facilitated small group (2-3) discussion.  

During the summit, two small groups were formed to address inequities in the college search process for rural and adult students. These groups will reconvene in January to share what they discovered and discuss with one another. In true SACAC spirit, we connected with our college and university friends and fostered relationships that will help us all serve Mississippi students, families, and high schools despite the difficulties we are all facing. We found this is the perfect time for testing new strategies. Get creative and try different approaches to reach your students. More than ever, this is an opportunity to “fail in service of learning,” a quote from one of our favorite consultants. Reach out to your partners and work together to meet today’s challenges. Together we can help students overcome the additional barriers COVID-19 has put in their way. 

Admissions Counselor Summit participants were asked to complete a post-event survey. Many of the participants completed the survey providing feedback about the virtual event. Below are some of the responses to the questions: 

Since Attending this Get2College Admissions Counselor Summit, what will you do differently? 

“Our institution is looking at new ways to recruit with the limitations in place because of COVID-19. Virtual admission events tailored to certain programs is one way we are approaching this recruitment season.” 

“I will do my best to incorporate more interactive activities into my virtual sessions.” 

“Since the summit, I will try to work more collaboratively with others to maximize this time despite the lack of face-to-face options we have with students. I will also work to meet my students, guidance counselors, and families where they are at by checking any of my bias at the door and understanding that one size does not fit all. Lastly, I will do more outreach with my network of ACs to see if we can bounce ideas off of each other for recruitment efforts this year.” 

“Not shy away from difficult conversations about race.” 

I will be mindful of my virtual presence, as well as work on strategies to reach students in rural areas.” 

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about the Admissions Counselor Summit? 

“Since the first time I attended in 2018 I have always come away with some added knowledge that I can use in my position. Thank you.” 

“Enjoyed the breakout session and sharing knowledge regarding COVID-19.” 

“You guys always do a great job!” 

“It was very engaging, helpful, and it held a lot of knowledge and tools to use during this uncertain time.” 

“Overall great event.” 

This one small endeavor seemed to have informed and motivated many of our partners and inspired Get2College to continue thinking creatively. Connecting virtually, through social media and snail mail is less than ideal, but with all of us working together we can see this through and help our students get to and through college.

During this season of Thanksgiving, Get2College continues to be grateful for our SACAC friends and Mississippi partners. 

Supporting Transgender & Transitioning Students in the College Application Process

Melissa Kotacka, MA NCC CT, Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment

*Views and opinions expressed herein are the author’s own and not the institution’s

This year marks my thirteenth year in the admissions profession, and thirteen years of working with and supporting LGBTQIA+ students through this process across three institutions. I’ve been on the undergraduate and high school sides, and now I work in graduate admissions for a professional school within a larger university, with some independent client work. Some years, such as when I worked at the high school level at a small, independent school with a high proportion of students who were out within our community, my work with LGBTQIA+ students — especially with transgender, transitioning, nonbinary, and gender fluid students — was more visible given the amount of time I was able to spend with those individual students and their families. Some years, it has been more subtle, such as holding space for students to share deeply personal stories in their essays during committee, or shepherding a student through application systems back before those systems understood that “sex” and “gender” were two different things, and that our societal binary was incredibly limiting and inaccurate.

I am not special for my experiences. I am not rare in admissions work. Unless you are brand new to counseling, admissions or working with students in any capacity, you must know that the sentence “We’ve never had/I’ve never worked with a trans* student before” will always be followed by the unspoken caveats of “that you know of” and/or “that felt safe being out with you/your community.”

We have to assume we have trans* and nonbinary students in our populations. Even and especially if those students aren’t out and may be exploring and/or questioning their identities, these students need and deserve to feel seen and safe with us as their counselors, admissions officers, and support staff. It is also important to remember that all of us are working with trans* and nonbinary colleagues in the admissions space. We have to do this work for our students, and we have to do it for each other, full stop.

Please know: trans* and nonbinary communities are part of the larger LGBTQIA+ community – and within that larger community, there are challenges of discrimination and transphobia (and biphobia and racism). Here in the SACAC region, we must truly mean it when we say “Y’all means ALL.”

To that end, I offer the following collection of resources, queries, and suggestions for expanding your and your educational communities’ capacity for supporting trans* and nonbinary students. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I’m hopeful that you’ll find something useful here:

  • Start with getting your vocabulary updated.
  • Practice and normalize using pronouns:
    • At my current institution, our Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity emailed our full campus at the start of this Fall 2020 semester with instructions for how to add our pronouns to our Zoom screennames. It is also expected that we include our pronouns in our email signatures. In pre-pandemic times, we included pronouns as part of our introductions during live events (e.g. “Hi, my name is Melissa and I use she/her pronouns, and I am one of our Assistant Directors of Admission”). Pronoun buttons and stickers were also common practice.
    • Especially normalize screwing up, quickly fixing mistakes, and then immediately moving on without making misgendering someone else all about you. Apologize, correct yourself and/or gracefully accept correction, and do better next time.
    • NOTE: Pronouns are not “preferred” – they simply are. I don’t “prefer” to use she/her – I just do.
  • For trans* and nonbinary students, use their chosen names wherever possible, and follow their lead.
    • Coming out is a lifelong process, as individuals determine when and whether to share this part of their identities based on a combination of personal, safety, professional, and other factors. It is possible that your trans* and nonbinary students may only be out in one of their communities at first – maybe at school, but not at home; or maybe just one community at school (e.g. their athletic team or close friend group) but not to the whole school. Ask your students how they want you to navigate their naming and pronouns.
    • Avoid deadnaming where you can, and talk about those circumstances where you can’t.
      • Know your campus policies for updating transcripts and other records (e.g. most institutions require that a legal name change be on file with the state first). If you don’t already include a “preferred name” section on school documents and online learning systems, advocate to add one.
      • Proactively reach out to trans* and nonbinary students when you know there will be a conflict in naming conventions. Explain when and where they may still see their prior name so that they are not caught off guard.
      • In a virtual world, allow students to rename themselves on virtual platforms. Constantly seeing their deadname in their learning environment with no option to change it is hurtful.
      • Navigating applications can be tough in this regard, and this is where open, honest, and authentic conversations with students are key. These logistics will also depend on how the institutions themselves handle applications from trans* and nonbinary students. Ask admissions offices for support here, and present the options to your students for how they would like to proceed.
  • Get trained:
    • Campus-based colleagues: your LGBQTIA+ center likely has staff and faculty sessions available. Check their schedule for each semester, and talk to your manager/team lead about the possibility of attending as a group – or even scheduling a training session with your whole office.
    • CBO- and School-based colleagues: if you are located near a campus, check in with their LGBTQIA+ center or office. They may have the capacity to accommodate you to attend one of their training sessions, or to host a training for your staff. If your area has a city-sponsored LGBTQIA+ Center, they may also be able to support you.
    • Independent colleagues: Reach out to city-supported resources, and see what community resources there may be.
  • Get trained again.
    • Best practices evolve over time. We have a professional obligation to ensure we are as up to date as we can be.
    • Most of us will change institutions at one or more points during our career. That is a great time to both refresh your general knowledge on LGBTQIA+ best practices AND to learn how your new community supports their trans* and nonbinary students, staff, and faculty.
  • Make trans*, nonbinary, and LGBTQIA+ training part of your regular professional development.
  • Institutional-based colleagues, some considerations for you
    • Do you link to your campus LGBTQIA+ center from your admissions homepages as a resource?
    • Does your application offer the option to identify beyond the rigid binary of female/male, and if so, do you allow students to self-identify rather than simply selecting “Other”?
    • Update your prospect and inquiry forms to be more inclusive: include preferred name as a bare minimum, and consider including an option for students to self-identify their gender. Double check that you are using “preferred name” in your mailings rather than defaulting to “first name.”
    • How do you train your readers to hold student essays about coming out with care and respect?
    • Do your application instructions include guidance on how to navigate documentation for trans* and nonbinary students?
  • School- and CBO-based colleagues, some considerations for you:
    • If you are writing letters for your students and they have come out to you, ask them whether/how they would like you to address anything about their identity, and then do that. Follow their lead here.
    • Gender-neutral bathrooms should be clearly marked and easily accessible. “Just use the staff bathroom” is a band-aid, not a solution.
    • If your school has a gay-straight alliance, is it welcoming for trans* and nonbinary students?
    • What kinds of harassment policies do you have in place to protect your students? Are they equally enforced?
    • If your school offers sexual education, advocate for https://www.hrc.org/resources/a-call-to-action-lgbtq-youth-need-inclusive-sex-education.
    • Go beyond the basic pride flag. There are many communities within the broader LGBTQIA+ community, and as noted above, some struggle for visibility and acceptance.  Some campuses have the resources to provide pride flags for students, such as setting them in a designated area of an office for taking. Whether the flags are big or small, this can be a strong but passive way to signal “You are seen and held for who you are.”
  • School- and CBO-based and independent colleagues, help your students check campus culture at the institutions they are considering
    • Ask admissions representatives about supports specific to trans* and nonbinary students.
    • Does a campus have a LGTBQIA+ center? How well is it staffed? How robust is their training, support, resources for their campus and how public are they about it on their website and social media?
    • Does the institution’s application include space for gender identities beyond the binary?
    • When an institution emails your student, do they use the preferred or legal name?
    • Check the surrounding community where schools are located – while college may be a bubble, it isn’t hermetically sealed.
    • What supports are in place through an institution’s Title IX office?
    • How robust are student health insurance plans? Do they cover hormones and other medical support (e.g. surgery) for trans* students?
    • Check state laws and policies regarding LGBTQIA+ communities, such as bathroom bills.

There is a lot of work to be done in ensuring that our trans* and nonbinary students and colleagues are safe and affirmed in their learning and work environments. Are there other resources and suggestions you’ve found helpful in your work? I encourage you to share additional suggestions, and resources in the comments to this piece or send them to SACAC’s Inclusion, Access, and Success Committee at access@sacac.org

Be well and hold each other close, y’all.

Celebrating National Transfer Student Week

 

 

 

 

 

SACAC is excited to celebrate National Transfer Student Week this week! We contacted some SACAC post-secondary members who work directly in transfer admission for a virtual interview about this field of college admissions. Here are some selected responses:

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in transfer access and success recently?

  • “More interest in the transfer student experience as a whole.  More investment in their success and less of thinking of them as an afterthought.”
  • “The biggest change I have seen recently has been the test-optional movement. Especially for our Freshman-Transfer students who may still have to use High School information to apply, that optional test score has helped a lot of students gain admission when previously they would not have been able to.”

What’s misunderstood about transfer admissions or the transfer experience?

  • “That transfers don’t need as much help because they’ve “done it before.”
  • “The common issue many transfer students have is about their credits; they need to know how many will transfer and about school accreditation. Each institution is different, so making clear statements about how credit evaluation works is key to a successful transfer experience.”

What’s one thing you’d change about transfer admissions?

  • “I’d want for it to get the same amount of attention as freshmen admissions, especially when it comes to scholarships.
  • The amount of attention it gets. Transferring needs to be a more acceptable step for students. The more we communicate and advertise the benefits, the easier the process and transfer experience can be.”

As we continue our recognition of Transfer Student Week, we are still looking for SACAC member experience with the transfer process as a student for an upcoming Southern Scope Blog post! If you transferred institutions as an undergraduate or graduate student or both, tell us about it anonymously here.

Little Rock Mini Camp College Recap

By: Emily Coffey, College Counselor, Mount St. Mary Academy

Whitney Calliott-Smotherman, of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and I hosted our second Mini Camp College in Little Rock on Saturday, September 21.

Mini Camp College is a SACAC program designed to help local high school students and their parents begin understanding the college search, application, and decision process. We hosted the Mini Camp College on the Saturday before the big college fair week in Central Arkansas. Attendees listened to presentations about the holistic admissions process, the application timeline, how to begin a college search, how to interact with a college representative, and financial aid.

Even though our event falls when the most stressful time of year begins for me, I love doing it. We received positive feedback from both students and parents, so that always helps. Whitney and I have found that dividing and conquering our duties works well for us. She handles student registration, advertising at high schools, and reserving the event space, while I manage volunteer assignments, snacks, and swag.

I encourage you to volunteer at (or host!) a Mini Camp College in your own state! We had wonderful volunteers from Arkansas Commitment, Christian Brothers University, Episcopal Collegiate School, Hendrix College, Little Rock Christian Academy, Ouachita Baptist University, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and University of Arkansas. Our event wouldn’t have been successful without our volunteers or the swag colleges so willingly provided. Thank you!