Volume 22, Issue 1 – October 2022

Member Spotlight: Ashley Kersey, Counselor, Lincoln High School (AR)

National Issue: The Supreme Court & Affirmative Action

A Quick Word: NACAC Reflections

Member Spotlight: Ashley Kersey, Counselor, Lincoln High School (AR)

Q: Tell us more about the students you serve: how many, what grades, unique characteristics, college-going rate/culture, etc. 

A: I serve grades 9-12, about 400 students, as the sole high school counselor. We are a consolidated district, so we serve 5 small communities in the area. Therefore, a lot of our students travel a bit of distance to make it to school. Many of our kids are first-generation college students with only about 20% of our usual graduating class attending/enrolling in college. We are very much a rural, farming community with a lot of our students participating in agriculture classes. About 50-60% of our students are on free/reduced lunches. 

Q: What is the biggest challenge you see facing your students who are or hope to be college-bound? 

A: I think one of the biggest challenges I’ve seen facing our students is just a general lack of awareness on college and post-secondary options. A lot of our students struggle with generational poverty and just end up staying here because that’s what other family members did. They don’t know where to begin or even what questions to ask when it comes to college. I’ve also definitely seen an increase in students dealing with depression and anxiety since the pandemic. Last year alone 60% of the referrals I received were students needing to see me for “mental health reasons”. A lot of our students have difficult family circumstances such as living with grandparents, parents incarcerated, parents divorced, victims of abuse, etc. and that can also contribute to them suffering academically. 

Q: What do you want college admission professionals to know about your college-bound students? Is there anything you wish they would do differently as they work to recruit your students? 

A: I would want them to know our students may need extra help navigating the college application process and scholarship process. We have a lot of students that end up having to complete the FAFSA on their own without parental help, so it makes things a bit more difficult. I think the more they can explain things, the better. Allowing more time and understanding for extenuating circumstances would be good too. I think a lot of colleges are going this way, but being flexible with ACT scores has been great. Our students are still struggling with their knowledge, especially in mathematics and their scores are reflecting that.

National Issue: The Supreme Court & Affirmative Action

After Affirmative Action: How effective are “race neutral” alternatives? California & Michigan offer sobering lessons.

by Katherine Mangan, Chronicle of Higher Education

Mangan highlights the struggles that the University of California and other systems have faced to maintain a diverse student body without the use of race in their admissions process. New policies, like an emphasis on life experience and overcoming hardship when evaluating applications, have helped the systems’ diversity numbers to recover some, but not to the level they were before affirmative action was banned in the state. (Link)

What Would the End of Race-Conscious Admissions Mean for Minority Enrollment?

by Jacquelyn Elias & Nick Perez, Chronicle of Higher Education

Elias and Perez produce visuals and data that show how minority enrollment has sagged at colleges in the ten states that have banned the use of race-conscious admissions and other forms of affirmative action over the past thirty years. While the enrollment of underrepresented minority students has increased in many of these states, those increases have not kept pace with the growth of the general minority populations in those states, which means the enrollment gap between these students and their white peers has widened. (Link)

Affirmative Action was Banned at Two Top Universities. They Say They Need It.

by Stephanie Saul, New York Times

Saul underscores the inability of the University of California system and the University of Michigan to maintain racial diversity on their campuses without the use of race-conscious admissions processes, struggles which were outlined in amicus briefs submitted by these schools to the Supreme Court to be considered in an upcoming case that could ban these processes nationwide. Faculty and students at these schools also weigh in on the impact of the affirmative action bans and their resultant decrease in campus diversity on the student experience. (Link)

A Quick Word – NACAC Reflections

Thousands of college admission professionals gathered in Houston for NACAC Conference 2022, September 22 – 24. This year’s theme: Resilience!

SACAC was well-represented with members participating as volunteers, presenters and attendees. Here’s a quick word from two attendees:

“NACAC, as always, was a wonderful experience. As a first-time presenter at the conference, it meant a lot to me to have so much support from my SACAC colleagues and friends. I look forward to reconnecting with new and old friends in Baltimore next year.” – Miya Walker, Director of Admissions, Agnes Scott College (GA)

“Though NACAC can feel like drinking from a firehose, it brings together members of our diverse community of practitioners from literally everywhere to have important conversations. I was able to attend a number of interesting sessions, debate the impact of changes to things like testing and admissions plans, and, always the best part, receive some truly restorative hugs from the friends who have kept me in this profession. I’m so grateful to have been there.” – Chris Rodriguez, The Lovett School (GA)

Congratulations to the NACAC 2022 Award Recipients from the SACAC region:

Government Relations Award

María Elena Ornelas, Vanderbilt University (TN)

Gayle C. Wilson Service to Education Award

Mary Ann Willis, Formerly with Bayside Academy (AL)

Make plans now:

SACAC Annual Conference, April 23 – 25, 2023 | Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront

Registration opens in January: SACAC Annual Conference