Hollins, NACAC Affirm “Test-Optional Means Test-Optional”

Hollins University is among the more than 400 college and university members of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) that have signed on to the association’s letter confirming that students will not be penalized for the absence of a standardized test score for admission in Fall 2021.

Hollins and many other four-year colleges and universities will not require applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores next fall. The policy is intended to alleviate uncertainty for students and families as they weigh concerns about the safety of going to test centers or the feasibility of testing from home during a global pandemic.

“By going test-optional, institutions are making a definitive statement that they will not need test scores to make admission decisions this year,” the letter says. “Despite the change in policies, high school students and their parents are asking, ‘Does test-optional really mean test-optional?’ The answer, simply put, is YES.”

The letter’s signatories pledge that the lack of a standardized test score will in no way negatively affect the way students’ applications are assessed. “Together,” the statement concludes, “we strongly endorse a student-centered, holistic approach to admission….”

“The message to students and families is simply that…students won’t be subject to penalty if they do not present a test score during the upcoming admission cycle,” explains NACAC Chief Executive Officer Angel B. Pérez. “The institutions that have signed our statement support our approach and are affirming that students without a test score will not be disadvantaged.”

Founded in 1937, NACAC is an organization of nearly 14,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education. NACAC is committed to maintaining high standards that foster ethical and social responsibility among those involved in the transition process.

 


Hollins Signs New Collective Statement Prioritizing Self-Care, Care for Others During the Pandemic

Hollins University is among the nation’s first colleges to sign a new collective statement – now endorsed by more than 350 admissions deans – that seeks to send clear messages about what college admissions deans value in students during the coronavirus pandemic. The statement also aims to relieve stresses on students and their caregivers and to promote equity in college admissions.

Care Counts in Crisis: College Admissions Deans Respond to COVID-19,” released by Making Caring Common, a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, provides guidance on self-care, academic work, service to others, family contributions, and extracurricular and summer activities.

“Students and parents understandably have many questions about what college admissions deans are expecting during this time of the pandemic, and there’s all sorts of misinformation swirling around,” said Richard Weissbourd, the faculty director of Making Caring Common. “This statement seeks to answer these questions, to dispel the fog of misinformation, and to affirm the deans’ commitment to meaningful learning, equity, and care for self and others.”

The statement specifically underscores the following:

  • Self-care. The deans recognize that many families during this time are struggling to get by and that a wide range of students are dealing with stresses of many kinds. The statement encourages students to take care of themselves.
  • Academic work. While the deans emphasize that students’ academic work matters to them during the pandemic, they also recognize that many students are facing obstacles to academic work. The deans underscore that they will assess academic achievements in the context of these obstacles, and mainly base assessments of academic achievement on work before or after this pandemic. They further state that no student will be disadvantaged because “of their school’s decisions about transcripts, the absence of AP or IB tests, their lack of access to standardized tests (Hollins announced in May that the university is suspending the standardized testing requirement for students applying for admission in the fall of 2021), or their inability to visit campus.”
  • Service and contributions to others. The deans express that they value contributions to others and service during this time for those who are in a position to provide these contributions. They emphasize that they are not looking for extraordinary forms of service or leadership during the pandemic. They don’t want to create a “pandemic service Olympics.” They are looking for contributions that are authentic and meaningful, including contributions that respond to the many needs created by the pandemic.
  • Family contributions. The deans recognize that many students have family responsibilities, including supervising younger siblings, caring for sick relatives, or working to provide family income that can impede their capacity to engage in school and other activities, and that these responsibilities may have increased during this time. They view substantial family contributions as very important and encourage students to report them in their applications.
  • Extracurricular and summer activities. The deans convey that no student will be disadvantaged for not engaging in extracurricular activities during this time, and they state that students will not be disadvantaged for lost possibilities for summer involvement, including lost internship opportunities, summer jobs, camp experiences, classes, and other types of meaningful engagement that have been cancelled or altered.

For more information about applying to Hollins, visit the Office of Admission webpage, call 800-456-9595, or email huadm@hollins.edu.

 


Hollins Announces SAT, ACT will be Optional for Fall 2021 Student Applicants

In response to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Hollins University is suspending the standardized testing requirement for students applying for admission in the fall of 2021.

The one-year test optional policy means that prospective students do not have to submit SAT or ACT scores in order to be considered for enrollment in the class of 2025.

Ashley Browning, Hollins’ vice president for enrollment management, says the temporary policy is intended to help alleviate anxiety in a challenging and unprecedented time.

“We know opportunities to take SAT or ACT exams have been cancelled, and may continue to be postponed in locations throughout the country. Students may also be concerned that they will not be able to take the tests in an environment that allows for social distancing, or that their performance may be compromised in other ways,” she explains. “Our test optional policy this year will hopefully take away some stress and worry during the 2020-21 application cycle.”

Browning adds that Hollins applicants may still choose to submit SAT or ACT scores for consideration. “We take a holistic approach to evaluating applications that includes a wide range of factors. If a prospective student believes their test results are an accurate reflection of their current academic ability, we will welcome them as part of our review process.”

Hollins’ decision to go test optional, Browning notes, is just one of the ways in which the university is reaching out to prospective students at a time when stay-at-home orders remain largely in place. “This spring, we’ve been holding a number of interactive webinars where students and their parents can learn more about topics of interest and ask questions. We also offer a virtual campus tour, and our admission counselors and financial aid advisors are available via Zoom or phone to share information, including how affordable a Hollins education can be. Annually, we award $28 million in financial aid and scholarships, including scholarships ranging from $24,000 to full-tuition for admitted students.”

Founded in 1842 as Virginia’s first chartered women’s college, Hollins is an independent liberal arts university providing undergraduate education for women, selected graduate programs for men and women, and community outreach initiatives. In addition to 29 undergraduate majors and eight coeducational graduate programs, including a nationally recognized creative writing program, the university offers the Rutherfoord Center for Experiential Learning, which supports extensive career preparation, study abroad, and undergraduate research opportunities; the Batten Leadership Institute, which teaches students how to understand and navigate feedback, conflict, and negotiation; and the Entrepreneurial Learning Institute, which provides students with the resources needed to develop an entrepreneurial outlook across all fields, including the social sciences, business, humanities, fine arts, and STEM.


Save Money, Find the Right Fit: Visit Hollins During Va. Private College Week

Hollins University is among 24 colleges and universities across the commonwealth that will be highlighting the quality and affordability of private higher education during Virginia Private College Week (VPCW), July 23 – 28. The event is sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV).

Hollins will offer campus tours and information sessions about admissions, financial aid, and academic programs, and will also address some common myths about the cost of a private college education. “Visiting campuses in person is one of the most important steps in the college search process,” said CICV President Robert Lambeth. “I encourage parents to explore which college will be the best fit for their son or daughter, and I want to assure them that a quality education at a Virginia private college is affordable and within reach.”

Students who visit at least three institutions during the week will receive three application fee waivers. Students may use these waivers to apply to any three participating CICV colleges for free. In addition, students visiting at least three institutions will also be eligible for a drawing for a $500 Amazon gift card.

Sessions at Hollins and most other participating colleges will begin at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, and at 9 a.m. on Saturday. To sign up for a session at Hollins, go to our VPCW registration page.  For more information about CICV and VPCW, visit the Virginia Private Colleges website.


Sophomore from Nepal Helps New International Students Feel at Home

Traveling thousands of miles away from home to a country you’ve never visited and attending a college you’ve never seen except online would be a daunting task for anyone. Yet that was the challenge that Grishma Bhattarai ’20 boldly accepted when she made the trek from Kathmandu, Nepal, to Hollins a little over a year ago.

“No matter how confident I looked, at the end of the day I was a little scared,” Bhattarai admits, looking back. But today, the economics and mathematics double major is thriving, both in and out of the classroom, and despite a demanding schedule, one of her highest priorities is assisting other international students after they start their education at Hollins.

“When I came to Hollins, I immediately met people who knew my name and who had taken the time to learn about me, my interests, and my likes and dislikes before I had even arrived,” Bhattarai recalls. “They created a space of comfort for me. I felt I needed to do the same for other international students when they came to campus. I wanted to become their friend and confidant so that I could help them during their first year’s journey at Hollins.”

Bhattarai is a peer mentor with Hollins’ International Student Orientation Program (ISOP), which prepares students from abroad for living and studying at the university. “For international students it can be difficult because they are coming from so many different cultures. Breaking the ice with them at the very beginning is important to get to know more about them and where they’re from. We talk to them about culture shock and help them become familiar with what will be new to them in America.”

What students should expect both academically and on a personal level at Hollins is the second focus of Bhattarai and other peer mentors. “One the biggest objectives of being a peer mentor is sharing your experience as a first-year student. I talk with new students about what they can do to succeed academically and I’m also open about the mistakes that I made so that they can avoid them.”

ISOP isn’t limited to just a few days at the outset of the new academic session. Peer mentors remain dedicated to new international students throughout their entire first year. “During the fall and spring, we get together for weekly dinners and talk about the classes they are taking, something new they are experiencing, or some concern they are having so that we can tackle the problem together,” Bhattarai explains. “ISOP, especially for Hollins, is a way to build a family within the campus community. There’s this safe space where students can express their anxieties and we can help them.”

Bhattarai believes the best advice she can give to an international student who is considering coming to America to continue their education is to “be open minded, be open to new experiences, and be open to meeting new people. The undergraduate experience is going to be really different from what you had in high school, especially considering the fact you’re also going to be immersed in a completely different culture.”

That attitude served Bhattarai well. Even though before coming to Hollins she had spent her entire educational life studying in an all-girls’ convent school and knew she wanted to attend a women’s college, she says she was pleasantly surprised at the atmosphere Hollins offered.

“Nepal’s education system does not allow you to try new subjects. But Hollins is this amazing liberal arts college where you can study different subjects before you have to actually choose your major. I never thought I’d be taking a dance history class and learning about Martha Graham and Isadora Duncan. I never thought I would study calculus and apply it in my daily life.

“Hollins is a place where there are no boundaries. You can do whatever you want to do.”

In addition to her work as an ISOP peer mentor, Bhattarai is vice chair of Hollins’ academic policy board and serves on the university’s Honor Court. She provides campus tours for prospective students and in June was part of the staff for Reunion 2017. She’s participating in the Honors Seminar Program and is presently investigating internship and research opportunities for next summer, including one offered at MIT.

“I want to pursue a Ph.D. in economics and Hollins has been shaping me for that,” Bhattarai says. “I’m planning to do study abroad in Italy during my junior year and that’s going to enrich my experience as a global citizen.” In her doctorate work, she intends to “look at the economy and living standards of rural, struggling communities and developing countries from a women’s studies and developmental economics perspective.”

Another factor that was impactful for Bhattarai during her first year at Hollins was the inspiration she received from President Nancy Gray, who retired this summer. Now, because of her international background, new president Pareena Lawrence is providing Bhattarai’s sophomore year with a singular resonance.

“Seeing a president who is similar to you in so many ways, it gives you a special drive to do better. Having a woman of color in the biggest position on campus, someone I can look up to in a genuine manner, it makes me feel that maybe someday I can reach that position, too. I’m so thankful for that. That’s something Hollins is giving me this year.”


Hollins to Take Part in Va. Private College Week, July 24-29

Hollins University is one of 24 independent colleges and universities welcoming prospective students and their families during Virginia Private College Week, July 24 – 29.

The event is sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV).

Along with the other participating institutions, Hollins will offer campus tours and information sessions about admission, financial aid, and academic programs. University officials will also address some common myths about the cost of a private college education.

“Visiting campuses in person is one of the most important steps in the college search process,” said CICV President Robert Lambeth. “I encourage parents to explore which college will be the best fit for their son or daughter, and I want to reassure them that a quality education at a Virginia private college is affordable and within reach.”

Students who visit at least three institutions during the week will receive three application fee waivers. Students may use these waivers to apply to any three participating CICV colleges for free. In addition, students visiting at least three institutions will also be eligible for a drawing for a $500 Amazon gift card.

Sessions at Hollins will begin at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, July 24 – 28, and at 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 29. Students and families may register by calling Hollins’ Office of Admission at 800-456-9595.

For more information about Virginia Private College Week, click here.

 


Visit Hollins During Virginia Private College Week, July 25 – 30

Hollins University is one of 24 independent colleges and universities welcoming prospective students and their families during Virginia Private College Week, July 25 – 30.

The event is sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV).

Along with the other participating institutions, Hollins will offer campus tours and information sessions about admission, financial aid, and academic programs. University officials will also address some common myths about the cost of a private college education.

Students who visit at least three institutions during the week will receive three application fee waivers. Students may use these waivers to apply to any three participating CICV colleges for free. In addition, students visiting at least three institutions will be eligible for a drawing for a $500 Amazon gift card.

Sessions at Hollins will begin at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, July 25 – 29, and at 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 30. Students and families may register by calling Hollins’ Office of Admission at 800-456-9595.

For more information about Virginia Private College Week, visit www.vaprivatecolleges.org.


Hollins Names New Vice President for Enrollment and Marketing

Hollins University is welcoming a new leader in the management and implementation of student recruitment with the appointment of Jason D. Hamilton as vice president of enrollment and marketing. He begins his duties in February 2016.

Hamilton comes to Hollins from the Arkansas Commitment Program, where he has served as executive director since 2008. The non-profit organization based in Little Rock identifies and develops academically talented African-American high school students and helps them acquire the education and experience necessary to become leaders in the community and society at large. During Hamilton’s tenure, Arkansas Commitment celebrated having numerous National Merit and National Achievement recipients and nine Gates Millennium Scholars, more than any other program or school in the state. The program ensures a 100 percent matriculation rate of participating students to four-year colleges and universities across the country.

Prior to heading Arkansas Commitment, Hamilton spent six years at Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee. He first served as assistant director of admission/coordinator of multicultural recruitment, then as associate director of admission and finally as director of admission. During his three years as director, he coordinated recruitment efforts that resulted in a significant increase in applications while having the highest academic profile and meeting enrollment goals.

“Jason knows ‘both sides of the fence’ and he can speak compellingly to both students and families as well as counselors and educators,” said DeAngela Burns-Wallace, assistant vice president for undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri.

David Lesesne, vice president for enrollment and dean of admission and financial aid at Randolph Macon College, agrees. “Jason’s gift is that he can relate to the full spectrum of constituents.  This will distinguish him as an outstanding leader for Hollins.”

Hamilton is a 1995 graduate of Sewanee: The University of the South, and holds an Executive M.B.A. from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is currently a member of the Common Application Outreach Advisory Group, the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund Board, and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Nonprofit Leadership Studies Advisory Council. He also serves as a reader/consultant for the Gates Millennium Scholars Program. He received the Education Leadership Award from the Arkansas Black Democratic Caucus in 2013, and the Garrett Klein Award for Mid-Level Service from the Southern Association for College Admission Counseling that same year.

“I am greatly honored and humbled to have the opportunity to serve in this role at Hollins University. I look forward to contributing to the mission, traditions, and goals of Hollins,” Hamilton said. “The University plays a significant role as a women’s institution in higher education through its personal and professional development of students. My family and I are excited to be joining the Hollins community.”


Hollins to Participate in Virginia Private College Week

Hollins University is one of 24 independent colleges and universities welcoming prospective students during Virginia Private College Week, July 27 – August 1.

The event is sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV).

Along with the other participating institutions, Hollins will offer campus tours and information sessions about admission, financial aid, and academic programs. University officials will also address some common myths about the cost of a private college education.

Students who visit at least three institutions during the week will receive three application fee waivers. Students may use these waivers to apply to any three participating CICV colleges for free.

“Visiting campuses in person is one of the most important steps in the college search process,” said CICV President Robert Lambeth. “I encourage parents to explore which college will be the best fit for their son or daughter, and I want to reassure them that a quality education at a Virginia private college is affordable and within reach.”

Sessions at Hollins will begin at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, July 27 – 31, and at 9 a.m. on Saturday, August 1. Students and families may register by calling Hollins’ Office of Admission at 800-456-9595.