Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Double Deposit Dilemma

As part of the PCACAC AP Committee’s desire to proactively discuss ethics, we will be sending out monthly “case studies.” In these cases, we will offer a situation and discuss whether the issue is in compliance with NACAC’s Statement of Principles of Good Practices (SPGP). This month’s case study was submitted anonymously by a PCACAC member as a question for the AP Committee. All questions and allegations are treated as confidential; therefore, this case has been adapted to protect the identity of the professional who called seeking advice. If you have a question about a situation or SPGP, please contact a member of the AP Committee.
September Case:   This past August, Great College called our office seeking the final transcript for Student Q who had sent in an enrollment deposit. However, our records indicated the student was enrolling at a US Service Academy.  We were surprised by the request because we work to educate our families well about the unethical behavior and complications that result in double-depositing. Therefore, we contacted the parents to tell them of the transcript request and that the school would not be sending another transcript unless the parents provided proof that the Academy had been notified of the student’s withdrawal. The parents responded that they double-deposited because they were unsure if the student would survive the physical and intellectual rigors at the Academy and that they wanted a backup plan. Furthermore, since the Academy starts earlier in the school year, the student would be able to decide if (s)he is staying before Great College begins freshman orientation.  We continued to reply "no" to releasing the transcript. The parent then stated that they may consult legal action as they believe the records are the ownership of the student and that the school must release if requested.
The member asks, “Does NACAC’s SPGP provide guidance? Are the rules bendable in this scenario because of the nature of the service academies and the parents’ concern for their child? Should we have just released the transcript and left the lesson behind? Called Great College and explained the situation?”
Discussion:  NACAC does provide some guidance on this, but not as a Mandatory practice. According to NACAC’s SPGP Best Practice III B 13, “All Counseling Members should counsel students not to submit more than one admission deposit, which indicates their intent to enroll at more than one institution.”  
Also important to note, the SPGP is written to guide counselors and admission officers, not students. NACAC does provide advice geared towards students, such as the “Deciding” page the NACAC website section, Breaking Down the Admission Process, which states, “You should never submit an enrollment deposit to more than one school. It is an unethical practice that may result in your acceptances being withdrawn by the colleges involved.” This information is also part of a flyer, “College Breakdown”, available on the NACAC website. Furthermore, NACAC provides more depth to this message on page 18 of the Guide to the College Admission Process  which states, “Colleges typically require admitted students to verify their intention to enroll by submitting a deposit or fee. The money (also known as admission deposit, commitment deposit, or commitment fee) is usually applied to a student’s tuition charges for the upcoming academic year. Colleges that are members of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) allow accepted applicants the opportunity to learn the decisions of all colleges they have applied to before requiring deposits, provided that all decisions are made before May 1. The student, in turn, is obligated to submit a tuition deposit to only one college before the required deadline (typically May 1). Colleges view dual or multiple deposits by students as serious violations of trust. They may revoke a previous offer of admission from any student who is found to have sent tuition deposits to more than one college.”

Conclusion:   This is a tough situation and puts the counselor in an awkward position. The counselor and school are following NACAC’s Best Practice because they have made numerous efforts to educate parents about the issues involved with double-depositing. The fact that the parent threatens to consult lawyers can be frightening. Therefore, before they encounter such a situation, many counselors work with their administration/district to make sure they have written and published policies that have been vetted by their school and/or lawyers. Examples of topics they might wish to have covered in policies might include academic record definitions, sending of final transcripts, discipline reporting, etc.  
As to the additional questions, it is hard to predict how Great College would react—it would probably depend on the situation, school, and college involved.  The counselor would need to work with the school administration to determine how to best proceed and might want to get additional information from Great College (possibly by calling an admission officer to discuss the situation in hypothetical terms) before proceeding.
Thank you to the member who brought this question to the AP Committee. This summer, several similar situations were also brought forth—it is certainly a complex issue with no easy answer.
If you wish to file a complaint, please complete a NACAC Confidential Complaint form. All personal information will be kept confidential, but the information will be forwarded to the appropriate affiliate AP Committee. This committee will follow up on the issue.  
Want to review previous case studies?  
View all of the Admissions Practices Case Studies on The Anchor here.

Want to submit a case for consideration? Please e-mail the PCACAC AP Committee Chair at jtalmage@stpaulsschool.org

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

August PCACAC Case Study - Guidance for School Profiles

As part of the PCACAC AP Committee’s desire to proactively discuss ethics, we will be sending out monthly “case studies.” In these cases, we will offer a situation and discuss whether the issue is in compliance with NACAC’s Statement of Principles of Good Practices (SPGP). The basis for this month’s case was submitted anonymously by a PCACAC member. All questions and allegations are treated as confidential; therefore, this case has been adapted to protect the identity of the professional who called seeking advice. If you have a question about a situation or SPGP, please contact a member of the AP Committee.

August Case:   The Director of Counseling at Prepared Institute, a regional magnet program, is meeting with the Director of Recruitment and Director of Communication to discuss updating the school profile. Even though it is a counseling office publication with the primary audience being college admission offices, the Recruitment Office uses the profile to attract students and the Communications Office supplies it to the School Board and other interested groups. The counselor has run the numbers and plans to simply update the class statistics. However, in the meeting, the other Directors ask, “Can we drop out some ‘special groups’ of students from the averages-- test scores, grade distribution, college list, etc. As you know, we have some populations—athletes, international students, etc.-- here and do not think they represent our typical students.” At first, the counselor feels that not including all students might be disingenuous; but, upon further consideration, thinks that “finessing” the statistics might actually help future applicants to college as well as to recruit future families. The counselor is torn about what to do and has called the AP Committee to ask for advice.
Does the NACAC SPGP provide guidance in this situation?

Discussion:  Over the past few years, the media reported on several colleges where the student profile had incorrect statistics—ranging from deflated admission rates to inflated test scores. But, the pressure to make a profile look better is not just directed at college admission offices; counseling offices and independent counselors might feel pressure to “finesse” their statistics for various reasons.
Luckily, as a professional organization, NACAC provides direction for such ethical quandaries. In this situation, there are two pertinent SPGP sections that can help the counselor determine how she might proceed. The more direct statement addresses test scores. According to SPGP Mandatory Practice III B 7, “All counseling members will report on all students within a distinct class (freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior) and subgroups, including non-native speakers, in the reporting of standardized test scores.”

Furthermore, Mandatory SPGP Mandatory Practice III B 1 states, “All counseling members agree that they will provide colleges and universities with a description of the school’s marking system, if available, that will provide some indication of grade distribution that may include the rank in class and/or grade point average.” Dropping select students from the profile may affect the rank in class and/or grade distribution (if reported) for a school.

While this case relates to a school profile, NACAC’s SPGP provides similar guidance to post-secondary professionals, too.  According to NACAC’s SPGP Mandatory Practice II B 11, “All postsecondary members agree they will initially report on all first-year admitted or enrolled students, including subgroups in the reporting of test scores. If data on subgroup populations are also provided, clear explanations of who is included in the subgroup population will be made.” Furthermore, in the Interpretations Section, the SPGP expands, “a. Postsecondary members will furnish data describing the currently enrolled freshman class and will describe in published profiles all members of the enrolling freshman class; b. subgroups within the profile may be presented separately because of their unique character or special circumstances.”

Conclusion: So what can the counselor do? She could use the SPGP as a guiding document to discuss the issues with her colleagues. Many people think of contacting the Admissions Practices Committee when they encounter a violation. However, the Committee’s purpose includes serving as an educational resource. The counselor could contact the AP Committee to discuss the proposed situation and possible SPGP issues. Such conversations, similar to complaints, are treated confidentially by the AP Committee.  Not only could the AP Committee be a sounding board for the issues, the Committee could support the counselor by providing additional resources (for example, copies of the SPGP or in-office training) for the counselor to provide her colleagues.

If you wish to file a complaint, please complete a NACAC Confidential Complaint form. All personal information will be kept confidential, but the information will be forwarded to the appropriate affiliate AP committee. This committee will follow up on the issue.

Want to review previous case studies?
   
View all of the Admissions Practices Case Studies on The Anchor here.


Want to submit a case for consideration? Please e-mail the PCACAC AP Committee Chair at jtalmage@stpaulsschool.org

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Dear Colleagues:

As part of the PCACAC AP Committee’s desire to proactively discuss ethics, we will be sending out monthly “case studies.” In these cases, we will offer a situation and discuss whether the issue is in compliance with NACAC’s Statement of Principles of Good Practices (SPGP). This month’s case was submitted by Casey Zimmer, Director of College Counseling at Sanford School (DE) and PCACAC Admissions Practices Committee member. If you have a question about a situation or SPGP, please contact a member of the AP Committee.

July Case:  Chuck the Counselor was sitting in his office, enjoying the last few minutes of the first day of school when Peppermint Patty, his "busiest" student, walked in.

"Hey, Chuck," said Peppermint Patty, "It's great to see you again! How was your summer? That's great, Chuck. You sure deserved some downtime this summer, and I'll bet you got it! You sure look 10 years younger than you did when I left you last spring, Chuck. Nice job. Hey, Chuck, can you take care of this for me? I need to get it in next week. I visited Snoopy U last month, and I really think I want to go there. Or maybe I won't. But I still need to get this in, because they really were impressed with me, Chuck. They even said if I applied with this application I would get a merit scholarship and stuff. I'm not sure what that's about, but I sure want it, with how hard I've worked! Thanks, Chuck!"
And out she walked, giving Chuck the Counselor little time to process what "conversation" just occurred.
Chuck looked at the piece of paper Peppermint Patty had given him. It was an official transcript request for Snoopy U with an attached piece of paper from the university which was clearly a registration ticket for a campus visit.  On the ticket, Chuck saw, "Apply within 30 days of your visit, and Snoopy U will waive your $75 application fee!"  The paper was also stamped with Patty's visit date: "08/16/2016".
"Good grief, " thought Chuck. "Even Peppermint Patty needs to apply in September. And even she's being offered merit money," Chuck grumbled. But the more Chuck thought about it, something else seemed to be wrong here. He remembered seeing this piece of paper from Snoopy U last November from several students who applied in the winter. He was surprised that the university was still handing them out to students over the summer. And what kind of scholarship was Patty being considered for, and why? Details were a little shady, and he was a little confused.  Should he be? What should Chuck do?

Discussion:  Although this situation involves one student and one university, there are actually two ethical issues to consider.
First, according to NACAC’s SPGP Mandatory Practice, II B 12, “All postsecondary members agree that they will not establish any application deadlines for first-year candidates for fall admission prior to October 15 and will give equal consideration to all applications received by that date.” In this case, the promise of a free application within 30 days would be a violation, as the expiration deadline, as stamped for the visit date, falls prior to October 15th. Interestingly, when Chuck first saw the form in November of the previous year, the free application would NOT be a violation at that time as the deadline would fall after October 15.

The second question is murkier. According to SPGP Mandatory Practice I B 2, “All members agree that they will not guarantee admission or specific college placement or make guarantees of any institutionally-affiliated financial aid or scholarship awards prior to an application being submitted, except when pre-existing criteria are stated in official publications.”  Was Patty actually guaranteed a scholarship or did she misunderstand the situation? If offered, what is the context? Does Patty meet pre-existing criteria published on the website?  Did the offer of consideration ALSO have an "expiration date" along with the free application offer? Why did Patty have no written details on this particular offer?  Or did she?  To understand whether this might be a violation, these question would have to be explored.

Conclusion:  In this situation, there was a clear violation of SPGP II B 12. Chuck might want to contact Snoopy U to clarify whether the deadline can be extended to October 15. He should also submit a confidential complaint form through the NACAC website so the affiliate AP Committee can contact Snoopy U to help them understand the ethical issues with the early deadline. As to the second issue, Chuck should probably talk to Peppermint Patty to ask some of the questions and learn more about the situation. Then, depending on the answers, he can follow up appropriately.

If you wish to file a complaint, please complete a NACAC Confidential Complaint form. All personal information will be kept confidential, but the information will be forwarded to the appropriate affiliate AP committee. This committee will follow up on the issue. 

Want to review previous case studies?  

View all of the Admissions Practices Case Studies on The Anchor here.

Want to submit a case for consideration? Please e-mail the PCACAC AP Committee Chair at jtalmage@stpaulsschool.org

Friday, June 24, 2016

Submit Your College Fair Info

Early Deadline for Preliminary Listing:  July 15
Deadline for Final Listing:  August 22


Planning a fall college fair?  Let us advertise your college fair and help you maximize the turn-out of college representatives!

PCACAC is pleased to announce that it is time again to submit YOUR College Fair/College Night information for inclusion in our seasonal recruitment activity listings.  College representatives remain eager to have this information as they finalize their fall travel around the anticipated College Fair/College Night Schedule for our region.  It's easy to submit your information via our online College Fair/College Night Participation Form.  Help us help you reach the largest potential audience for attendance at your College Fair/College Night.

PCACAC membership is not required to submit your college fair information (but you are highly encouraged to do so!).  However, accessing the College Fair/College Night Fall Schedule is a member benefit.  If you are not currently a member and would like to enjoy the benefits membership has to offer, please visit the Membership Information section on our Home page at www.pcacac.org and click on Join or Renew.  

Additionally, individuals who submit the College Fair/College Night Participation Form do not have to be the identified point of contact for fair registration.  Once your information has been submitted, an automated message will be sent confirming your listing.

The deadline to submit your information is Monday, August 22, 2016. A preliminary schedule will be released to members on July 25, with a final list posted on August 25.  

If you need assistance or have questions, please email me at the address below or contact PCACAC Executive Assistant, Annie Hilten, info@pcacac.org, 434-989-7557.

We look forward to advertising your college fair!



James B. Massey, Jr.
PCACAC College Fair/College Night Committee Chair
Sr. Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions
University of Maryland
College Park, MD
jbmassey@umd.edu

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What if we offer Early Decision (ED) Students New Housing?

As part of the PCACAC AP Committee’s desire to proactively discuss ethics, we will be sending out monthly “case studies.” In these cases, we will offer a situation and discuss whether the issue is in compliance with NACAC’s Statement of Principles of Good Practices (SPGP). Thanks to Jake Talmage, Director of College Counseling at St. Paul’s School (MD) and PCACAC AP Committee Chair, for this month’s case. If you have a question about a situation or SPGP, please contact a member of the AP Committee.


June Case:   Having just completed the admission cycle for the fall of 2016, the Dean of Admission at Aspiring College (AC) goes to meet with her new boss, the VP for Enrollment, who was recently promoted from the Dean of Students Office.  In this meeting, the new VP tells the Dean, “You had a great year—best class ever! But, I see you and your staff had to work exceptionally hard to make the class. I think we could make your life easier by getting more students through Early Decision. What do you think if we offered ED students a guarantee to live in our new Living and Learning Center?”  While this idea seems like it may help attract more students through ED, the Dean is unsure how to answer.

Is this idea compliant with NACAC’s SPGP? What should the Dean do?

Discussion:  According to SPGP II B 4, “All Postsecondary Members agree that they will not offer exclusive incentives that provide opportunities for students applying or admitted Early Decision that are not available to students admitted under other admission options.”  Furthermore, the SPGP Interpretations section states, “Examples of exclusive incentives include special dorms for ED admits, honors programs only for ED admits, full, need-based financial aid packages for ED admits only, special scholarships for ED admits only, any promise of an advantage in the admission process if student(s) convert from Regular Admission to Early Decision.”

Under the VP’s proposal, ED students would be offered the special incentive of guaranteed housing in a new residence hall. At first glance, this certainly seems like a clear “exclusive incentive.”  But, there are some issues that could make the situation fall into a gray area. There are many different types of institutions that are NACAC members and the context of any scenario becomes very important. Let’s explore some of the questions that might be considered:

-        How large is the new Living and Learning Center? Would non-ED enrolling freshmen be able to live in the housing? How many spots does the college predict would be available to non-ED?  The perspective of whether this situation was “exclusive” could be affected if the new center housed a significant number of students or was limited to a very select population.
-        Is the new Center truly a special housing situation? Or is it just a title of a new residence hall? Understanding how this new center might vary from other residence halls would help determine whether this was an incentive.
-        Would ED enrollees be required to live in housing or just guaranteed the opportunity? How would non-ED enrolling students be considered for the housing (ie, an additional application or something else)?  Again, understanding whether the ED students are truly getting a benefit is necessary.
-        How does the college normally assign freshman housing?  Is this guarantee to ED different than their overall process? There are many different ways colleges approach freshman housing. For example, some use date of deposit.  If this were the case, and there are other admission decisions (EA, rolling) occurring on a similar time-line, then the question about whether this option was just for ED or for all students deposited by a certain date would need to be a consideration. 
-        How would the college market this possibility?  An important concept of the SPGP is to protect the Ethics of the Profession while working with students. In this case, the messaging could affect whether an AP Committee felt the college was offering an exclusive incentive that pressured students in an un-Ethical way.

Conclusion: So what can the Dean do? Many people think of contacting the Admissions Practices Committee when they encounter a violation. However, the Committee’s purpose includes serving as an educational resource. The Dean could contact the AP Committee to discuss the proposed policy and possible SPGP issues. Such conversations, similar to complaints, are treated confidentially by the AP Committee.  Not only could the AP Committee be a sounding board for the issues, the Committee could support the Dean by providing additional resources (for example, copies of the SPGP or in-office training) for the Dean to provide her staff, including the new VP.

If you wish to file a complaint, please complete a NACAC Confidential Complaint form. All personal information will be kept confidential, but the information will be forwarded to the appropriate affiliate AP committee. This committee will follow up on the issue in order to help the college work fairly with all students. 

Want to review previous case studies?
View all of the Admissions Practices Case Studies here.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Is it poaching or part of the process?

As part of the PCACAC AP Committee’s desire to proactively discuss ethics, we will be sending out monthly “case studies.” In these cases, we will offer a situation and discuss whether the issue is in compliance with NACAC’s Statement of Principles of Good Practices (SPGP). Thanks to Corey Fischer, Director of College Counseling at Fredericksburg Academy (VA) and PCACAC AP Committee Member, for this month's case. If you have a question about a situation or SPGP, please contact a member of the AP Committee.


May Case: On May 2nd, Suzie showed up in her counselor's office to show her an email she had just received from a college she had applied to and really liked, but was not planning to attend as she had deposited elsewhere. The email said, "We have not heard back from you, but want you to know we would love to have you attend Wonderful Univ. Recognizing that college costs are often a big factor in deciding where to attend, we are offering you an additional scholarship of $24,000 ($6,000 per year) if you send your enrollment deposit by May 7. We look forward to welcoming you to Wonderful Univ. in August!" 

This additional money would mean Wonderful Univ. would be more manageable for her family financially and she really liked the college, so she wanted to switch colleges.

Is Wonderful U compliant with NACAC's SPGP?

Discussion:  According to SPGP II A 2, "All postsecondary members agree they will not knowingly recruit students who are enrolled or registered or have initiated deferred admission, declared their intent or submitted contractual deposits to other institutions, unless the students initiate inquiries themselves or unless cooperation is sought from institutions that provide transfer programs."

Conclusion: Seems pretty straight forward, doesn't it? It is after May 1, so Wonderful U must be "poaching." Not so quick. As is often the case, this situation is not so simple.

The key words of SPGP II A 2 are "knowingly recruit students who… declared their intent or submitted contractual deposits to other institutions…" Essentially, did Wonderful U send this e-mail knowing that Suzie had deposited to another college?  Had Suzie notified Wonderful U of her intentions?

If so, there is a violation. But, there is a good chance WU did not know that Suzie was planning to enroll elsewhere (the e-mail read, "We have not heard back from you.").  Even though it is after May 1, many students and colleges have not finished their process. For example, NACAC recently posted the College Openings Update listing more than 400 colleges that still have space. Many colleges operate a rolling process that extends into the summer.

Therefore, if a complaint about Wonderful U was filed, the AP committee would follow up with the university to ask about their process. What happens when a student withdraws his/her application? Do they stop recruiting students who commit elsewhere? Whether the college was in compliance or not, this conversation can prove positive and educational.

If you wish to file a complaint, please complete a NACAC Confidential Complaint form. All personal information will be kept confidential, but the information will be forwarded to the appropriate affiliate AP committee. This committee will follow up on the issue in order to help the college work fairly with all students. 



Want to review previous case studies?
View all of the Admissions Practices Case Studies here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Profile: Meet Annie Hilton


PCACAC has a new Executive Assistant! We sat down with Annie Hilton, to learn a little bit about our new EA. Spoilers: she's pretty awesome.


Give us some background! Where are you from, where did you grow up, a little info on your most recent job with The Covenant School, etc.  

I grew up in Orange County, Virginia not too far from where I live now.  Before the age of 6, I traveled quite a bit and lived overseas.  Alas, my memories are few.

Can you share anything about your own college advising experience? 

I didn't explore my options for college as much as I should have.  I applied to three different universities and was fortunate enough to be accepted to all three.  I didn't give my final decision much thought and just went with my first choice.  I'm pretty certain I would not have gone wrong with any of my options, but sometimes think I should have looked at the programs more carefully to balance these with my interests and strengths.  Regardless, my counselor was as helpful as possible, but I could have asked more questions and been a more deliberate in planning. 

What’s a special or hidden talent that you have? 

I love to paint and create art.  I hope to enroll in a stained glass class in the near future.

What did you think you wanted to be when you were 5 years old? 

I remember pretending to be a teacher when I played.  This is probably because my father was a teacher and administrator.  

What drew you to PCACAC? 

Great people, volunteers, and mission.  Members of PCACAC truly touch the future in positive ways.

What are you most looking forward to, in your new position with PCACAC? 

I look forward to completing the first year so that I can begin to work from experience and not always direction.  I believe that most positions, particularly those associated with an academic year or cycle, one will begin to accomplish tasks more efficiently after completely one cycle.  After completing a year in the Executive Assistant role, the basic learning curve will be complete, and I will begin to facilitate efforts beyond the basic responsibilities of the PCACAC Executive Assistant.  Also, I want to connect names and faces without hesitation.

Having now attended a PCACAC Conference, what was your favorite part? What did you like about the conference? 

 Using some slang acquired from my teenage daughter, the PCACAC "peeps" were definitely the best part of the conference.  It is inspirational to be around people passionate about their professions and volunteer efforts. These folks are quite accomplished.  It is worth repeating that the PCACAC people were my favorite part of the conference, and the 10-layer, Smith Island cake served by Liquid Assets was pretty incredible as a runner-up. 


What’s one thing we definitely have to know about you?

I love coffee!