ASA researched and authored DEI Challenges in the College Admission/Counseling Profession for the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). This environmental scan of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices in college counseling and admission professions addresses the urgent needs of today’s students and institutions. Research and policy have explicitly established the benefits of DEI and its crucial importance for realizing ideal educational experiences and outcomes of students, and subsequently, their future prospects in the workforce and society.

Through a literature review, DEI position scan, and focus groups with college counseling and admission professionals, we found that:

  • College counseling and admission staff represent student characteristics fairly well, but progress is still needed in the representation of Black males in particular, and in the leadership ranks. One potential solution is to increase awareness of the college counseling and admissions career pathway options among underserved students of color.
  • The college admission field has added DEI-specific roles in recent years to help recruit more diverse student bodies.
  • Admission staff would like to see increased access to NACAC conferences and trainings for staff of color, greater visibility of staff of color as conference presenters, and staff developmentofferings such as implicit bias training.
  • It is important to look beyond diversity numbers to fully address the “inclusivity” of DEI programs, policies, and practices. Schools and institutions must examine student experiences throughout the higher education pipeline, including policy and practice intentions, student needs, and historical, systemic barriers.
  • Participants stressed that community work on healing and recovering from racist incidents takes time, and leadership priority and transparency are key for effective DEI efforts.

These collective findings underscore the important role these staff play in increasing and supporting a diverse college student body. Efforts being taken to recruit and train college counseling and admission staff and leadership with an anti-racist lens should continue to be implemented, assessed, refined, and replicated.