On one level, the National Association for College Admissions Counseling appears to have a good record on diversity. The group strongly supports affirmative action, and its annual meetings (and other meetings) have a strong focus on recruiting students of all races and ethnicities. Prefers optional test acceptances. He opposes the acceptance of inheritance. Its CEO is a Latin American, Angel B. Pérez. He took over in 2020 when a black woman, Joyce E. Smith, retired.
But on another level, NACAC is not that diverse at all – in its membership. A report released today by the association, “DEI Challenges in the College Admissions Counseling Profession,” makes this clear.
The report notes at the outset that a large percentage of professionals in higher education (and especially in the field of admissions) are white.
|Position||Percentage of whiteness|
|Higher education administrator||86%|
|Chief Enrollment Officer||82%|
|Chief Admissions Officer||81%|
|member of NACAC||73%|
|College Admissions Counselor||71%|
In contrast to these numbers, 48 percent of undergraduate students are white and 47 percent of public high school students are white.
“Diversity and campus climate—policies and practices that reflect institutional priorities for equity and inclusion—are critical to successful engagement and outcomes for all students, especially underserved Black students,” the report states. “College admissions professionals, consisting of school/college counselors (high school) and admissions management/enrollment specialists (college), are critical to helping students navigate their educational goals.”
Pérez said the report speaks to NACAC’s lack of diversity until now. “This is our history, not our future,” he said.
Changing this history will be difficult, he warned. Few people, regardless of race, start out in college or early in their careers and aspire to become leaders in enrollment management.
But he said colleges can change that. For example, most colleges have undergraduate tour guides. These guides play an important role in admissions, and many colleges hire students from diverse backgrounds to work, knowing that doing so will make minority students feel more comfortable on field trips. Why don’t admissions managers at these institutions invite these tour guides to consider a career in admissions, not just a job, Pérez asked.
“There’s a talent pool in admissions offices that doesn’t get vetted,” he added.
As a Latino with a Ph.D., Pérez said, “I’m a bit of a unicorn.” And that’s the point of the report – he said everyone needs to take responsibility for encouraging people to have the education and experience that will promote diversity in admissions.
“We haven’t created a pipeline in the profession,” he added.
Work at the reception
The report also details the work done on admissions.
“Standardized testing and college entrance exams, such as the SAT, ACT, and Advanced Placement tests, have historically disadvantaged students of color and students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds,” the report states. “Critics point to the racist origins of these assessments, the implicit bias inherent in their multiple-choice design and content, their cost, and the unfair advantage white and wealthy families have over other groups because they have access to better-funded schools and extracurricular academic activities. and mentoring.”
A more diverse profession would recognize these issues, the report says.
Similarly, there is a legacy admissions policy that today generally (although not by design) favors white applicants. Unsurprisingly, universities that eliminated legacy admissions saw increases in Pell Grant and minority students, the report says.
And of course, there’s the issue of affirmative action, which the Supreme Court will consider this fall.
“Although it is beyond the scope of this article to examine it in detail, it is not possible to discuss equity in college counseling and admissions without mentioning race-conscious admissions,” the report said. “Legal decisions regarding race-conscious decisions cite the benefits of campus diversity for a 21st-century workforce and society, as well as nurturing leadership that reflects all segments of the population.”