Highlights from Higher Ed: A Closer Look at International Student Woes, Application Materials and College Admissions

RJ Nichol
Nov 29, 2019

Lawsuit challenging optional practical training program could make it harder to attract international applicants

A lawsuit that aims to end the optional practical training (OPT) program for international students could further diminish the ability of U.S. colleges and universities to attract foreign applicants to their programs. The OPT currently allows international students to work in the U.S. for up to three years after graduation while on their student visas. The suit was filed by a labor union, the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, which argues that “the Department of Homeland Security exceeded its regulatory authority in creating the OPT program, effectively establishing a large-scale foreign guest worker program without congressional approval.” More than 100 U.S. colleges have signed a legal document, referred to as an amicus brief, to voice their opposition to the lawsuit. It said, in part, that if OPT ends, “so too will the myriad benefits of OPT to international students, American colleges and universities, and the national economy.”

Source: Inside Higher Ed

In the wake of admissions scandal, colleges begin to more closely scrutinize application materials

Several U.S. colleges and universities are “stepping up scrutiny of student applications” after the recent scandal involving the discovery of widespread cheating in the admissions process by applicants and parents. Yale University, Bowdoin College and Pomona College are among those institutions that have announced plans to more aggressively spot check information submitted with applications. Yale, for example, “will verify some extracurricular accomplishments and awards, and audit a number of applicants’ applications at the end of each admissions cycle.” At Panoma, “coaches are being asked to provide third-party backing of an athlete’s talent, such as a web link to rankings or local newspaper story.” In addition, “the school’s admissions officers may conduct additional research on one out of every 40 to 50 applicants when they include unfamiliar activities.”


Students will now have a clearer picture of their debt

The U.S. Department of Education has announced it will release a new resource, called the “Informed Borrower Tool,” that will allow individual students to see exactly how much student debt they have accumulated before taking on additional loans. Today, approximately 45 million borrowers owe in excess of $1.5 trillion in student loan debt; their default rate is greater than 10%. “This is unlikely to make a significant dent in students’ debt burdens,” says Bill DeBaun, director of data and evaluation at the nonprofit National College Access Network. “But… it will keep borrowers aware of what they’re taking out and what they’ll be expected to pay back.”

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education

Study: Despite all the bad press, college admissions remain “fair and straightforward”

Researchers at the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) have determined that “getting into college is a fair and straightforward process” — regardless of what many people now seem to believe following the “Varsity Blues” admissions scandal. NACAC’s 2019 State of College Admission report asserts that “a student’s high school record remains the primary consideration of colleges when reviewing applications.” NACAC says the top factors after grades in high school courses are: college prep course grades, the strength of high school curriculum and ACT and SAT scores. The report also noted that just 1% of schools “indicated that a student’s alumni connections or ability to pay had considerable influence during the application review process.”


RJ Nichol

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