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Reports Examine College Costs, High School Counseling

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Two new reports track the effect of the economy on college costs, admissions, and counseling.

One study, by the College Board, finds college tuition and fees are rising faster than they have in recent years, and that grants are playing a bigger role in helping students manage those costs. (See stories in The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. And see a delightfully snarky take on it by Kevin Carey over at the Quick and the Ed.)

Rep. George Miller said the College Board report shows the need for the federal government to expand access to government aid for college.

Another study out this week reports on college-admissions trends, and finds that acceptance rates are down slightly since 2001 because the numbers of applicants and applications have risen.

The survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling also finds some interesting college-related trends at the high school level. Nearly half the counselors reported that their schools were planning ways to help students deal with economic uncertainty, most by hosting more financial-aid sessions.

The NACAC report also highlights once again a problem that takes on particular urgency as financial aid plays a larger role in students' ability to manage college: the lack of counseling capacity in high schools. The study found that public school counselors spend less than a quarter of their time on postsecondary counseling (private school counselors spend more than half their time on this).

The typical student load for a public school counselor is 246 students and rising due to increased enrollments. And only one third of public high schools report having a counselor whose primary job is to provide college and career counseling. Combine numbers like those with the fact that many students' families lack the knowledge necessary to guide them on postsecondary options, and you get an immense unmet need.

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More college and career counseling would have many ramifications. If students know more about what they want to do, colleges would presumably have to adjust their offerings to their demands. The college dropout rate would drop. Unfortunately it won't happen with a dearth of high school college & career counselors, and the system doesn't welcome or encourage outside tutors, except for NCLB SES programs which focus on remedial education. However, there are some few savvy students who take the free SES service and utilize their tutors for college prep. Open up this closed union system! Free our students to the fresh air of freedom of thought and adult advising and mentoring! Let them grow up!

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  • Rick Walker, MA: More college and career counseling would have many ramifications. If read more




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