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HomeEducationOPINION: The glitchy FAFSA is just one downside with moving into faculty....

OPINION: The glitchy FAFSA is just one downside with moving into faculty. Right here’s the way to make the method much less complicated


Making use of to school has by no means been extra complicated.

The brand new model of the Free Utility for Federal Scholar Help, which was meant to be easier for college students, is as a substitute a glitchy mess. The Supreme Courtroom’s resolution to strike down affirmative motion has left excessive schoolers and their counselors not sure of what can and may’t be mentioned in functions. Faculty admissions officers concern lawsuits, and in lots of circumstances are struggling to stability their establishment’s acknowledged commitments to variety with the realities of this new authorized panorama.

In the meantime, there’s a push to confess college students who’ve overcome adversity and who display “grit,” or persistence by way of difficult circumstances. However we lack a shared understanding of what adversity means. On the identical time, college students really feel pressured to open up a couple of momentous problem or life impediment they’ve needed to overcome; essay prompts from the Frequent App assist gas such narratives and place an pointless burden on college students.

What’s extra, high-quality information on college students’ excessive colleges and residential environments, which may assist admissions officers contextualize college students’ functions and higher perceive what challenges they’ve overcome, stays missing. And admissions officers danger permitting their very own biases to cloud how they consider college students.

All of that is to say we’ve reached a breaking level. Policymakers and better ed establishments should attempt tougher. Listed here are just a few beginning factors: 

FAFSA Fiasco

This op-ed is a part of a bundle of opinion items The Hechinger Report is operating that concentrate on options to the brand new FAFSA’s troubled rollout.

Simpler communication on the FAFSA. Many households are nonetheless not sure of the way to navigate the federal help course of. In response, each faculties and the federal authorities should higher clarify what adjustments have been made and supply step-by-step steerage; this may be finished by way of webinars, easy-to-read pamphlets, and different direct and accessible channels.

Improve alternatives for significant communication between admissions officers and college counselors. There may be too little readability on what faculties want to see mirrored in non-academic components of an utility – much more so now {that a} pupil’s race is probably not thought-about. Earlier than we embark on one other admissions cycle, there should be better dialogue between faculties and excessive colleges on the way to finest help college-going college students. As an example, counselors would profit from native Q&A boards with admissions officers, offering an summary of what a powerful utility may appear like and the place counselors ought to direct their restricted sources.

Standardize the usage of suggestion letter templates. Officers should sift by way of enormous numbers of functions whereas counselors usually juggle a whole bunch of scholars on their caseload. A method to enhance that is by streamlining the method for writing letters of advice:  States, for instance, may companion with a crew of upper ed professionals to construct a standardized template. Not solely would this save counselors time guessing what kind of content material admissions officers will discover most related, however it might spare faculty workers from studying letters of various high quality and codecs.

Mandate implicit bias coaching for admissions officers and that they extra equitably allocate their sources. Whereas having contextual information about college students and their backgrounds is a needed first step, how that info is used to judge college students is simply as essential: Officers’ private views on what a powerful pupil profile appears to be like like may distort the analysis course of and result in some college students being ignored. Admissions workplaces additionally should take a tough take a look at their present recruiting practices and make investments extra money and time into recruiting at high-poverty colleges.

Making certain that increased training is open to all college students has by no means been extra vital. With urgency to innovate and huge instruments at our disposal, I consider that we’ve the potential to open doorways for college students who may up to now have felt a university diploma was unattainable. Quite than succumb to this tradition of confusion, we should problem our colleagues in Okay-12 and better training to construct a tradition of readability and newfound connection.

Matthew Nicola is a pupil on the Harvard Graduate Faculty of Schooling, finishing his Ed.M. within the Schooling Management, Organizations, and Entrepreneurship (ELOE) program. The intersection of school admissions, counseling, and fairness was the main target of an impartial research he carried out by way of the Faculty Counseling Analysis Lab.

This op-ed about faculty admissions was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, impartial information group targeted on inequality and innovation in trainingJoin Hechinger’s publication.

The Hechinger Report offers in-depth, fact-based, unbiased reporting on training that’s free to all readers. However that does not imply it is free to provide. Our work retains educators and the general public knowledgeable about urgent points at colleges and on campuses all through the nation. We inform the entire story, even when the small print are inconvenient. Assist us hold doing that.

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