Spring is a time of reflection and planning with our state campaigns. Though the past year carried numerous challenges and exposed the systemic barriers that prevent students from successfully applying to college, it also provided new opportunities and tools that will allow all state campaigns to better serve students.
This campaign season, colleges provided step-by-step videos and walked students through the college application processes to ensure students were prepared. Schools also provided virtual campus tours, giving access for students from any corner of the country. Host sites used texting campaigns to reach students and hosted outdoor block parties to celebrate submitted applications. We saw radio personalities and elected officials encouraging students to make a plan for education beyond high school. And, we have even heard that many of these successful new elements will become permanent fixtures of state campaigns moving forward.
We are pleased to share our 2020 campaign results. Our state campaigns and host sites demonstrated their commitment to – and persistence in – supporting students by providing needed guidance and resources for the college application process. In the 2020 campaign season, ACAC efforts reached nearly 5,700 high schools supporting more than 363,100 seniors who submitted over half a million college applications! Collecting data was extremely challenging this year, and not all host sites were able to submit their numbers. Therefore, we know these are conservative numbers, and many more students submitted applications this past fall with assistance from caring adults.
In addition to sharing our campaign results, we are thrilled to recognize our second annual School of Excellence recipients! This year, winners from 22 states and the District of Columbia have been chosen as exemplary leader committed to student success. Along with public recognition each school received a plaque. Please join us on April 15, at 3:00 p.m., C.T. for the webinar, Being a School of Excellence in Difficult Times to celebrate the many success strategies employed by these schools. During the webinar, ACT CEO Janet Godwin, will moderate a discussion with three award winners and will invite them to share their success stories and highlight the promising practices they used to support students through the college application process.
While it is important to pause and celebrate what we have accomplished this past year, it is also critical that we acknowledge the unfortunate decline among first- generation students and those from low-income families who have not yet applied to college for a variety of pandemic-related reasons. We hope that today’s newsletter - which is filled with resources - will encourage, guide and inspire you to remain steadfast in supporting the Class of 2021 in their final months as seniors. Students clearly need our help today, more than ever and a #CollegeSigningDay event might be just what lights a spark for many students. This month you will also find resources to help execute important tasks in supporting the Class of 2022 and helping to ensure that each student prepares for a strong senior year.
I leave you with the words of Rose Kenney, counselor at Milford Jr/Sr High School and Nebraska’s 2020 School of Excellence recipient, “The [state campaign] brings much excitement, but during a pandemic, it brought some ‘normalcy’, cheer, and uplifting of spirits for our seniors.”
Lisa King, director
A Message from Get Schooled
Complimentary Support for Juniors and Seniors
By: John Branam, executive director of Get Schooled®
Although 2021-22 will likely feature a return to “normal” schooling, COVID-19’s effect on student learning and counselors’ bandwidth has been devastating. For many BIPOC youth and those from low-income families, this school year has been an almost complete loss. To recap: students from all corners of the globe have navigated the difficulties of ever-changing learning platforms, intermittent connectivity, melting familial finances, brutal mental health struggles, increased focus on racial justice, historic weather patterns, and so much more. Yet, despite these challenges, high school juniors, seniors and their respective counselors have persisted. Thank you sincerely for your tremendous efforts in the face of unprecedented adversity.
Together, we will persist! As students emerge from the grips of COVID-19 they’ll still need tremendous support, and we can’t expect this to only come from school counselors. This spring, seniors who don’t yet have a plan for the fall will need help making one. Juniors will need assistance as they build their college lists. Many sophomores and juniors will need guidance over the summer. Clearly the workload of school counselors will increase over the next few months and Get Schooled is here to help.
GetSchooled.com provides best-in-class digital outreach and engagement support for school counselors and students - for FREE! Students love our content and appreciate that the tools are designed to help ensure juniors and seniors receive the on demand levels of support they need.
Here are three ways you can tap into the power of Get Schooled and help students’ reach their full potential:
- Personalized Student Textline
Get Schooled free, digital college and job advising textline supports for students by answering college-related questions, and can quickly connect them to an advisor. Students can get quick answers to their questions by texting #hello to 33-55-77.
GetSchooled.com breaks down the critical steps that students need to follow as they prepare for, apply to, and get into college (and so much more!). One hundred percent of our content is youth-friendly and mobile-first, and is increasingly in video format. Click on our search icon or log-in to get started! Remember to encourage your students to check out Get Schooled’s content on YouTube and TikTok as well.
- Digital College Advising Packages
With hundreds of students to support, it’s hard to find time to develop your own digital college advising content and to stay up with the latest information. Don’t worry, we’ve done the work for you! Our FREE, Digital College & Job Advising Packages are full of turn-key digital and downloadable content you can send directly to your students.
Student Spotlight: Isabella Macias
#IApplied: University of Florida Freshman Reflects on College Application Support
By: Adrienne Enriquez, national trainer and communications manager, ACAC
This is the third in a series of blog posts featuring current college students who participated in American College Application Campaign events last year.
Meet Isabella Macias. She describes herself as an extremely ambitious person. “As soon as I have a goal in mind, I always go for it. That includes going to college,” she said in our interview.
Isabella carefully considered her options, not just when choosing to attend the University of Florida (UF), but also deciding whether or not she would live on campus her first semester. She did, after all, start her college career in the midst of a global pandemic.
After much thought and consultation with her parents, Isabella decided to make the move to Gainesville last fall. She quickly became good friends with her roommates and was still able to meet with people on campus, albeit socially distant and masked. It wasn’t quite what she had hoped for when she applied to college, but aside from the food being “a little different from home,” she said it’s working.
Read and hear more on the blog.
“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.” – Lady Bird Johnson
By: Nick Sproull, director of k-12 educator engagement, myOptions®
As flowers begin to bravely surface after shivering underneath the blanket of a cold, dark winter, I am reminded this year more than any other of the hope, joy, and renewal that comes each spring. Lady Bird Johnson’s quote about hope carries new and profound meaning in light of the trauma, stress, and anxiety many of our students have faced this past year. From protests for social justice and an unprecedented presidential election to school closures and the move to blended and online learning to job losses and food insecurity, the season we have endured has been difficult to say the least. But in the same way spring flowers bring with us hope for a brighter day, we are also now beginning to see tangible signs of hope that our nation is beginning to rebuild better.
And with that hope comes the opportunity for us to help students transform their hopes into reality by ensuring they know about critically important steps, processes, and deadlines. Below are ways you can help your juniors and seniors navigate their paths.
At this point in the year, college-bound seniors typically fall into one of three groups. The first includes students who have been admitted to a school, have made a decision, and have already begun taking the necessary steps for a successful transition. The second group includes seniors who successfully navigated the college admission process but remain uncertain about where they will enroll. And the final group comprises students who – for any number of reasons – have not yet applied to or been admitted to a school and are struggling to chart a course.
For seniors who successfully navigated the college admission process but remain uncertain about where to enroll, here are three ways to offer support:
- Focus on fit. One of the best ways to support students is to help them examine – or in some cases re-examine – their priorities as some may have changed. You may want to ask your students: Have home circumstances caused you to consider going somewhere closer to home? Have you discovered a new career path that’s changed the type of academic program you want?
- Maximize aid opportunities. Seniors have likely received financial aid packages from the schools they are considering. First, to understand some of the basics of the financial aid process check out myOptions’ blog, “3 Key Questions On The Role of FAFSA® In Making College Affordable Students.” You can provide your students a comprehensive guide to financial aid letters here and you can help your students learn how to compare financial aid offers here. It may also be helpful to know families can appeal their financial aid packages, particularly if a family’s finances have been affected by COVID-19.
- Visit virtually. Be sure students take advantage of admitted student days. Most colleges have totally revamped their admitted student days to accommodate our virtual environments. These events are specifically designed for students who have not yet made their college decision and often provide students with opportunities to interact with faculty and students. Check out this blog to learn more about ways students can “visit” campuses virtually.
For seniors who have not yet been admitted anywhere and are struggling with next steps, it’s important to remember the keyword is “yet.” It’s not too late! Many schools are still accepting applications for admission. Supporting your seniors in these ways will help ensure everyone gets the chance to celebrate the 2021 College Signing Day! And don’t forget that once students have made their decisions, there are important steps they may need help navigating to avoid summer melt.
College is a match to be made, not a prize to be won. Research shows that students who are well matched to a college are more likely to enroll, persist, and graduate from college. To find the best match, it’s important that students start by building a balanced list of colleges before they begin their senior year. One place to start is by creating a free myOptions account, where our proprietary algorithm uses students’ interests and preferences to produce a customized list of 25 schools that may be a good fit. And please be sure to tune into our “Friday Five” series where we will examine five topics in five minutes or less on five consecutive Fridays beginning Friday April 9:
- How do you know if college is right for you?
- What do you want/need from a college?
- How do you build a college list?
- How do you begin to narrow your list?
- What steps should I take before deciding where to apply?