National Association for College Admission Counseling Changes Its Ethics Code

By Huntington Learning Center

If you’ve been paying attention to college-related news in recent months, you might have heard about the decision made by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) to remove several provisions from its Code of Ethics and Professional Practice.


The NACAC was founded in 1937 and is an organization of more than 15,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education. NACAC membership is voluntary, but members agree to uphold the Code of Ethics and Professional Practice in order to promote best professional college admission practices.


Acting upon an inquiry by the U.S. Department of Justice into these provisions’ violation of antitrust laws, NACAC’s Assembly voted at the 2019 National Conference in September to remove a few sections from its code of conduct. Why? To address the Department of Justice’s belief that those provisions inhibit competition among colleges for students.


Here’s what the removed sections covered:  


  • Offering exclusive incentives for early decision. Previously, the ethics code stated that NACAC member colleges must not offer incentives such as special housing, enhanced financial aid packages and special scholarships to early decision applicants or admits.


  • Recruiting first-year undergraduates who have committed to other schools. This section essentially prohibited member colleges from knowingly recruiting or offering enrollment incentives to students who are already enrolled or have declared their intent to enroll (or submitted contractual deposits) at other colleges. The code referenced May 1 as the point when enrollment commitments become final and mentioned the fact that colleges must respect those commitments. Two notable exceptions to the no-recruiting rule were when students were admitted from a wait list and the students initiated the inquiries themselves.


  • Recruiting transfer students. NACAC member colleges were not allowed to solicit transfer applicants from a previous year’s applicant or prospect pool unless the students initiated that transfer inquiry. Colleges were allowed to recruit transfer students if they first verified that the students were enrolled at a college that allowed transfer recruitment or the students were not currently enrolled.


Ultimately, the Justice Department argued that the above provisions restricted fair trade—or in other words, they prevented colleges from competing for students. Now that they’re removed, the recruiting practices of college admissions departments could change.


How might this impact your college-bound teen?


Time will tell, but you might see colleges more aggressively recruiting students even after they’ve already committed themselves elsewhere. If colleges want certain students, they might find creative ways to entice them with financial aid or housing. Some in the industry have even questioned whether we’ll see more high school seniors continuing to debate their college decision well into the summer before college begins.


However it all plays out, one thing is certain: it is always important for your teen to make him or herself an attractive college candidate by earning good grades, performing his or her best on the SAT and ACT, and developing a strong college resume. Every college wants to attract the best possible freshman class, after all. Remind your teen that it is essential to stay focused and finish high school strong, because colleges are paying attention.

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