Monday, May 2, 2022

BUENFITS: Todos pueden ir a la universidad

¿Hay un libro en Español para ayudar con las admisiones universitarias? Is there a book in Spanish to help with college admissions

¡Ahora sí! There is now! 

Big news! BUENFITS: Todos pueden ir a la universidad is now available on Amazon.

BUENFITS es un libro para informar e inspirar a las familias en el proceso de admisión universitaria. 

With real stories, practical advice and step-by-step planning for college admissions, this book will both inform and inspire Spanish speaking families. 

School counselors who work with Spanish-speaking populations: this book is for you and your families. Get your copy today so that everyone can go to college. 

Marisela Rubio Gomez y yo queremos crear recursos para las personas no típicamente representadas en el proceso de admisión universitaria: los que no hablan Inglés, los que son los primeros en sus familias poder ir a la universidad, los que no tienen el apoyo para manejar el proceso y más. BUENFITS es un recurso para ellos porque sabemos que todos pueden ir a la universidad. 

This book is just the start. We hope to offer more books, a workbook, a podcast and more because everyone can go to college. 

Contáctanos hoy para saber más de lo que estamos haciendo para que todos pueden ir a la universidad. Mientras tanto, compra BUENFITS: Todos pueden ir a la universidad para ti, para un amigo o para otra persona interesada en ir a la universidad. 

Get your copy today.

Compra tu copia hoy.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Test Optional = More Exclusive

You likely heard the news: Harvard's acceptance rate for the class of 2026 reached an all time low of 3.2%

Let that number sink in: 3.2%.

Over 61,000 applicants for 1,954 spots. 

Harvard also saw an increase in applications by 7% largely due to their test optional policy

But Harvard isn't the only one. Many top schools, since adopting a test optional policy, continue to see increases in applications. And as applications increase, acceptance rates go down.

What gives? Isn't test optional supposed to be a good thing? Isn't it supposed to reduce the stress around admissions? 

I guess not. Just look at the numbers. Getting into top schools is now harder, less predictable and more stressful. 

Simply put, that sucks. 

So do we go back to test requirements? MIT just announced that it will require test scores for the 2023-24 application cycle and beyond. But UCs and CSUs are test blind. 

Can the pendulum swing both ways? 

What this means in the short run is that students should work towards taking an SAT or ACT, then submit the score if it is in the range of accepted students for the schools they want. In the long run, the future is less clear. It looks like some schools will be in one of three buckets: test required, test optional or test blind. 

Perhaps students building their "balanced" college lists of GPA and affordability should also include a balance of testing requirements. 

Friday, February 11, 2022

Financial Aid and SAT & ACT Scores

Financial aid for college is divided into two buckets: need-based and merit-based

Need-based aid is determined by comparing the cost of college to a family's income and/or assets. It's essentially a math equation: cost of attendance (COA) - expected family contribution (EFC) = need. 

Merit-based aid is determined both by student achievement and the college's enrollment management. This kind of aid is much more nuanced than need-based aid. Colleges manage their enrollment by attracting high-achieving students with discounts and scholarships. And the achievement colleges look for is two fold: academic achievement, like grades or test scores, and extracurricular achievement, like sports. 

Truth is, there is more merit-aid distributed for academic achievement than extracurricular achievement. Yes, more money is available for nerds than for jocks. 

So if there is more aid for academic achievement, what is more important: GPAs or test scores? 

The fact of the matter is that, even in this world of test-optional, test scores remain a major driver of financial aid. 

This point was made to clear to me recently when I had the chance to pick the brain of a certified financial planner who has worked in the college funding space for over two decades. 

His exact words were, "While admissions decisions are generally driven by GPA, merit-based financial aid decisions are primarily driven by test scores."

Now, this statement may be an oversimplification of the financial aid process. Nevertheless, the logic is quite sound: GPAs are hardly standardized. A 4.0 at one school is not the same as a 4.0 at every school. So using GPAs to identify stellar students is inexact. On the other hand, the SAT and ACT are highly standardized. Test scores are thus a very quick and precise way to differentiate large groups of students. 

Yes, there are flaws in this logic of this last statement. Anyone who follows this blog know that we continually preach that students are more than just test scores. The movement towards test-optional is clear evidence that test scores are less important in general. 

However, the fact remains that aside from test scores, there is no other apples to apples comparison of students. 

And since merit-based aid is not equation-driven like need-based aid, schools have to find a way to manage their enrollment and determine who gets a discount and who doesn't. Hence, test scores remain a significant factor in merit-based aid.

The future of the SAT and ACT is in doubt. Most schools are test-optional and more and more schools will become test-blind. 

But for now, test scores still drive financial aid decisions. Maybe not admissions decisions, but definitely merit-based financial aid decisions. 

Saturday, January 1, 2022

10 Predictions for 2022

Now that 2022 is here, what will learning, education and college planning look like next year? 

Look for these 10 things in 2022: 

1. Blended learning will be the norm: For the past semester or so, many thought remote learning was a thing of the past. However, omicron and other variants are forcing schools to reconsider remote options in the interest of health and safety. For the next year, schools from elementary through college will need to balance robust remote learning options with in-person instruction. 

2. Social/emotional learning will be a greater focus: The topic of mental health is crucial and more institutions are recognizing the need to support their students in both social and emotional development.

3. More programs will address learning loss: Data suggests that most students lost weeks if not months of learning during the COVID pandemic. Resources will be put in place to mitigate this learning loss. Look for after school programming, on campus tutors or other ways schools can help students recoup lost time.  

4. SAT and ACT Test-optional will be here to stay: Students and colleges benefitted from going test-optional. Students had more choices and colleges got more applicants. Win-win for everyone.  

5. SAT and ACT will be administered on school sites: This is already happening, particularly for the SAT. With so much unpredictability of testing locations due to COVID in 2021, the model for 2022 is to host the tests on school grounds and, usually, on school days. 

6. College affordability will be a bigger factor: This one may be wishful thinking but there are indications that families are making college choices less about the brand and more about the financial impact. 2022 will see more students explore more affordable options like community college or schools that offer greater merit aid. 

7. Teachers will embrace cell phones in the classroom: Old school teachers who forbid or prohibit cell phone use the classroom are fighting a losing battle. Teachers will need to help students understand cell phone etiquette but there are so many learning tools on the phone that can be used in the classroom that it will be high time for the old schoolers (like me!) to admit that cell phones can be useful. 

8. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will enter our classrooms: AI will become a greater part of our students learning. Software designed to diagnose learning challenges will become more commonplace in school settings. 

9. The next wave of gamification will arrive: While Kahoot! and Quizlet saw a very successful 2021, the next wave of augmented reality and virtual learning is coming. Imagine Spanish students virtually visiting a museum in Spain for a scavenger hunt! This is happening already and 2022 will bring more of it. 

10. CROSSWALK will continue to support all students: This last prediction is a fact. CROSSWALK is here to support your academic achievement, testing goals and path towards learning success.