The digital divide affects the college application process

8 Dec

Moi wrote in The digital divide in classrooms:

One of the major contributors to poverty in third world nations is limited access to education opportunities. The Asian Development Bank has the best concise synopsis of the link between Education and Poverty For a good article about education and poverty which has agood bibliography, go toPoverty and Education, Overview As technology becomes more prevalent in society and increasingly is used in schools, there is talk of a “digital divide” between the haves and have-nots. Laurence Wolff and Soledad MacKinnon define the “digital divide” in their article, What is the Digital Divide?

The “digital divide,” inequalities in access to and utilization of information and communication technologies (ICT), is immense.

Access to information technology varies within societies and it varies between countries. The focus of this article is the digital divide in education.

Nora Fleming has written the provocative Education Week article, Digital Divide Hits College-Admissions Process: Some students lack hardware, savvy:

But while technology is changing the face of college admissions, not all students are reaping the benefits of this virtual access to resources and information. For disadvantaged students lacking awareness or the digital-connection capabilities, entry into college may become harder to obtain than ever before.

“Our first-generation college students, even if they have computers with high-speed Internet, still struggle through the college-application process because they do not have the same frame of reference and knowledge base when it comes to things like college-search websites,” said Darrell Sampson, a guidance counselor with the 182,000-student Fairfax County school district in Virginia.

“If you do not know what it is you are supposed to be looking for, or how the process is supposed to work,” he said, “you are probably not going to be accessing the wealth of information available through technology meant to assist you.”

Online Growth

Those same challenges to accessing college admissions—such as seeking out digital resources and determining credibility of information—follow students when they enter college, educators say, where digital resources, and the expectation to use them, abound.

In 1998, the Common Application, a standard admissions application accepted at colleges and universities in place of their own, was made available online for the first time.

Today, the application, supported by a nonprofit organization of the same name, is accepted by more than 488 higher education institutions, and similar application sites, like XAP and the Universal College Application, have also emerged, dramatically changing the college-admissions process. The Common Application received 2.78 million applications last year from 663,000 students, as a student can now fill out one form and submit it to many colleges at once.

The National Association for College Admission Counseling, based in Arlington, Va., reports that the proportion of virtual applications increased from 56.5 percent in 2004 to 85 percent in 2011 of all those received at four-year institutions. Given the ease of applying, the applications in total at each institution have also substantially increased, while the acceptance rate has declined, stiffening competition.

Virtual portals also enable students to track the status of their applications.

But the application is not the only facet of college admissions that has become virtual. Students can now use a whole host of websites, such as Naviance, Cappex, Zinch, and College Confidential to search for and get matched with potential schools, receive step-by-step guidance on admissions, take virtual tours, and practice for the SAT and the ACT.

Bob Patterson, the director of college outreach at Zinch, a website where students create a profile to get matched with colleges and scholarship money, says such sites help reach students through familiar, digital communication tools. That reduces stress in the admissions process, he said, particularly in high schools where the student-to-counselor ratio is very high.

According to NACAC, the national average is 421-to-1.

“The idea of instant feedback, online searches, and connecting with students in real time is the way higher education institutions will need to engage with the student of the future,” said Mr. Patterson, who worked as an admissions counselor for 15 years at Stanford University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, among other universities, before going to Zinch.

Web-Based Help

Cappex: Provides college reviews, admissions games, searchable information on colleges including video, and college and scholarship matching.

College Board: Provides SAT registration with free sample questions, study guides, and information on local courses; guidance on how to find colleges, pay for them, and plan academic work to make student applications stronger.

College Connection: Helps students find schools based on career goals, courses offered, and location; includes online degrees.

Common Application: Allows students to fill out a standard application and submit it electronically to as many member institutions (of 488) as desired; includes charts detailing deadlines and additional requirements of each member school.

Naviance: Helps students, their families, and their school counselors organize the admissions process through goal-setting and application management; also provides long-range-planning advice for students’ careers based on self-designed profiles and assessments.

Princeton Review: Offers SAT, ACT, and PSAT preparation guidelines including free practice tests and free events, along with registration for paid courses; includes other college-search advice and general guidance.

Zinch: Students create a profile and are matched with colleges, graduate schools, and scholarship money; students can connect with other students going through the admissions process for advice.

SOURCE: Education Week

See, Schools Must Bridge the Digital Divide

Moi wrote about college access in College Board’s ‘Big Future’: Helping low-income kids apply to college:

The College Board announce the “Big Future” program:

College Board Introduces, a Free Comprehensive College Planning Resource

See, Admissions 101: Will new tool help low-income students tackle admissions?

Education Week had this take on “Big Future” in the article, College Board Launches New Web Resource for Students by Caralee Adams:

The material was developed in collaboration with an advisory group of educators and Education Conservancy, a nonprofit based in Portland, Ore., focused on improving the admissions process.

This idea was to create an interactive, user-friendly resource in response to concerns that the college-admissions process is becoming increasingly complex and access to expert counseling is unequal. “All students deserve access to good guidance information and top-notch online information,” says Ben-Yoseph. “The goal to make the college process more accessible, simple, and easier to navigate.”

Students can get to much of the information on BigFuture without signing up, but to create a plan or save your work, users do need to create an account. Those with College Board accounts can use their existing user names and passwords. (College Board’s privacy policy states that it does not sell student names or their related information, except through the optional Student Search Service program.)

Rather than being static and listing 10 things to do each year in high school, BigFuture starts the process by asking the user some questions and tailoring the action to the individual’s interests.

When searching for colleges that match a student’s interest on BigFuture, the user can sort by filters such as location, majors, sports, diversity, and cost and give each a weight of importance on a sliding scale. College-profile information of nearly 4,000 institutions is collected by the College Board in its Annual Survey of Colleges. Note: The price includes tuition and fees, but not room and board.

Information throughout the site is provided in nugget-sized tips and one-minute videos with student stories such as how they decided about going to school in a city, what role extracurricular activities played in deciding a major, and putting together a financial-aid plan for college. There are also videos from experts addressing topics of college planning.

College Board envisions the audience for BigFuture to be as young as 8th graders. The content can be applicable for students of any age interested in higher education, said Ben-Yoseph. The hope is that the tool will be engaging enough that it is used across a student’s entire high school career and by school guidance counselors.

The best way to eliminate poverty is job creation, job growth, and job retention. The Asian Development Bank has the best concise synopsis of the link between Education and Poverty For a good article about education and poverty which has a good bibliography, go to Poverty and Education, Overview  There will not be a good quality of life for most citizens without a strong education system. One of the major contributors to poverty in third world nations is limited access to education opportunities. Without continued sustained investment in education, we are the next third world country.


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9 Responses to “The digital divide affects the college application process”


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