Arlington, VA (Sept. 17, 2020) – If a postsecondary education is the key to prosperity and social mobility, then access to college should be considered a basic human right, argues Roadmap for Change: Reimagining US Higher Education as a Public Good, released today by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).
The document says that our nation’s higher education system and public policy must make serious changes to ensure that every student who aspires to postsecondary education be given an equitable opportunity to do so.
“Research shows that postsecondary education lifts people out of poverty and leads to a better living wage, healthier lifestyles, and a more engaged citizenry. Therefore, we need an immediate paradigm shift. Postsecondary education should be a fundamental human right,” said Angel B. Pérez, NACAC CEO. “Our education policy and practice must be focused on providing access to students who are most in need, not driven by those with the most privilege.”
Roadmap for Change notes that deliberate policy changes in our recent history have resulted in the prevailing notion that higher education is a private good – one that benefits only the individual – instead of an institution that ensures prosperity for all in our society. Higher education has come to be viewed as a commodity that is bought and sold, ignoring the system’s most important element – the student.
Reimagining postsecondary education as a public good and putting the interests of students first will require a rethinking of policies and practices across our society – from colleges and universities and government agencies to the news media and families. Noting that the recent Department of Justice investigation of NACAC’s ethical code has moved NACAC beyond a role of self-regulation, the association will now turn its energies toward becoming an advocacy organization “by challenging the premise that higher education is a form of commerce, but rather that it is a public good and should be treated as such,” the report said.
The document offers six recommendations to fundamentally change our educational system and provide equal opportunity for all students to achieve an education beyond high school:
- Redesign college admission policy and practice to focus on the centrality of individual students in the vast landscape of postsecondary education. When their interests are not at the forefront of our policies, our educational system cannot succeed.
- Emphasize transparency as a critical policy measure to restore trust in higher education, and to ensure good public policy to protect the public investment in education.
- Begin basing policy and practice on the premise higher education is a public good and enact public policy that recommits our nation to postsecondary access and success.
- Implement policies and practices aimed at rectifying inequitable access at the local/institutional, state, and federal levels. Such work requires that institutional and public policy examine systemic problems in our education system, as neither can effect change without the robust support of the other.
- Strengthen policies and practices aimed at protecting students’ rights and interests in the transition to postsecondary education.
- Implement well-crafted, fully funded public higher education policies at the state and federal level to alleviate uncertainty faced by students and institutions alike.
Roadmap for Change concludes with a commitment to the goal of ensuring the opportunity of higher education for all students:
“NACAC will pursue this transformation in pursuit of the public good with determination and resolve, as the collective benefit to us all cannot be realized without it. Our association will do everything in its power to ensure that counselors have the appropriate resources they need to advise students on their journey, and that higher education is funded and supported in a way that ensures that every student who aspires to postsecondary education has an equitable opportunity to do so.”
Publication of Roadmap for Change accompanies the release of Ad Hoc Committee on Leadership in College Admission: Process, Findings, and Recommendations, a NACAC report endorsing essential changes in the association’s structure, policies and practices to empower it to help shape a postsecondary landscape that is accessible, inclusive, equitable, and affordable for all. Written by a team of NACAC members from a variety of backgrounds and settings, the document and its findings were a source for the preparation of Roadmap for Change.
Read Roadmap for Change: Reimagining US Higher Education as a Public Good here.
Read the Ad Hoc Committee on Leadership in College Admission: Process, Findings, and Recommendations here.
The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), founded in 1937, is an organization of nearly 14,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education.
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