Spring is here! Many of you are gearing up for the end of school year sprint, which involves those final pushes for college applications, FAFSA needs, and College Signing Day planning.
Thank you to everyone who provided data about your college application events this campaign season. 2022 had 290,299 participating seniors and nearly 959,178 applications, more than doubling the number from 2021. For the first time since the start of the pandemic we saw an increase in the number of applications, which is consistent with national trends. Visit the website for more campaign data.
It’s also the time of year to celebrate the schools across the country with the School of Excellence award announcement. This year, 23 states nominated schools they felt demonstrated commitment to student success, including increasing the number of first-generation college students and students from low-income families who pursue a postsecondary degree or other higher education credential. Congratulations to all the winners!
Do you know the education attainment rate for your state and county and enrollment trends broken down by demographics? The Lumina Foundation released its annual Stronger Nation report, which shares national data, and you can click on your state for more information and comparison data. The National Student Clearinghouse also shares numbers for the traditionally underserved populations on which ACAC is focused. Knowing our data better informs education leaders about the urgency and necessity of our work, and I encourage you to check it out.
ACT also published Disruptions and Gains: Students’ Reflections on the Effects of the Pandemic, based on research by Dr. Joyce Schneiders, ACT research scientist. Unsurprisingly, this survey found that 60% of students said the pandemic had a negative effect on their motivation to learn, making them less motivated to learn compared to pre-pandemic times. Further, 37% of students indicated they struggled with grades during the first year of the pandemic. The survey findings weren’t all negative, though — 42% of students felt the pandemic had a positive effect on how much they appreciated their education, and more than half (52%) reported they had a greater appreciation for their teachers. While learning to navigate the challenges of digital education, nearly 62% of students reported becoming more independent or self-reliant during the first year of the pandemic. While a global pandemic certainly did not provide the best conditions for learning, it is reassuring to see the resilience of students nationwide.
Finally, it’s never too early to start planning for your fall event. Host sites can register through their state website — some are currently open — or on the ACAC website. If a host site registers on the ACAC website, we’ll connect high schools with their state campaign coordinator.
Lisa King, director
#CollegeSigning Day Events Begin the end of April
Reach Higher, Common App, and Better Make Room are getting ready for College Signing Day, which celebrates all students committed to pursuing an education past high school. Whether planning to attend a community college, a four-year university, a certificate program, the military, or any other education past high school, College Signing Day shows full support of students making decisions for their futures.
How you can celebrate:
- Download the toolkit. Find some inspiration, how-tos, and resources to simplify your process.
- Register your event. Let them know you’re celebrating.
- Share on social media. Check out the social media guide, use #CollegeSigningDay, and tag @BetterMakeRoom in your posts.
Get started and access resources and the social media guide here.
The Rise of Free Applications
This article first appeared on the National College Attainment Network blog on February 7, 2023.
By: Caroline Doglio, program associate, National College Attainment Network
Colorado recently held their fifth annual Free Application Days from October 18-20 to cap off their Colorado Applies Month. During these three days, 63,976 applications were filed! This is a 2% increase from last year. Notably, 45% of these applications were filed by students of color and 34% by first-generation students.
Read the full article here.
Four Keys to Connecting with Students on Social Media
By: Rachel Dauer, communications specialist, Piper & Gold Public Relations
On social media, the world is vibrant and effervescent, and you — an adult — may feel like a flat shade of gray by comparison. We get it. It’s easy to feel like you’ve finally gotten a grasp on Instagram and Facebook when a new platform is announced that's all the rage (we’re looking at you, BeReal). But we’re here to help! There’s no question about the influence social media has on our students. Seventy-five percent of teens report having one active social media profile, and nearly half say they use the internet “almost constantly.” If you want to connect with your students, you have to be willing to meet them where, when, and how they need you. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Know where to post.
Each network has its own strengths and weaknesses, and you should carefully select which networks to use to connect with your audience. According to a 2022 survey, YouTube stands out as the most common platform, with 95% of teens ages 13-17 regularly using the site. Next up are Tik Tok, Instagram, and Snapchat.
What do all these platforms have in common? They prioritize visual and short-form content, which tells us we should …
2. Keep it short and sweet.
Between sports, extracurriculars, after-school jobs, and other activities, high schoolers are busy. Social media offers an additional outlet for students when they want a break, and they tend to prioritize content that aligns with their interests and sparks joy.
Teens want content that is easily digestible, requires minimal effort, and holds their attention. Drafting content that makes them stop scrolling and pay attention is the name of the game. Try writing posts that are shorter in length and present information in list format, paired with a video or image. Ask yourself: Is this something I would stop and look at? Is it powerful enough to break through the abundance of other content? If not, go back to the drawing board.
3. Make it personal.
Many of us understand that social media is not reality, and teens are no different. They crave authenticity online and don’t want to feel like they are being sold a product or a false reality. It’s important to connect to what students are passionate about and create content that shows you are listening to them. Social media is a great tool to add value to what your students are seeing when they are on the various platforms. Providing students with resources, sharing stories that parallel their lives, and connecting them with other students with similar goals can help add a personal touch to your content.
4. Engage and measure.
No one wants to feel like they’re going through something alone. Engaging is one way to ensure your students feel supported. Commenting, sharing, answering questions, and drafting content based on feedback makes students feel special and creates the connection they’re seeking.
You also need to pay attention to what’s working. Your strategy will never reach peak success if you are hitting post, crossing your fingers, and hoping for the best. Look for trends to see what people are reacting to and what they are engaging with, then use these findings to inspire your future content.
Remember: While social media may seem intimidating, it’s an opportunity for you to build relationships, share information, and use your voice to create positive outcomes in the lives of students. Be creative, try new things, accept that not everything will work out the way you expect, and start experimenting with the array of colors of social media to help your students paint their own picture of a successful future.
Empower students through Encourage: Adapt. Automate. Accelerate.
By: Bryan Contreras, vice president of education partnership, myOptions® Encourage
Students across the nation are in the final phase of the college application process — the decision phase. This last sprint requires collaboration between students and counselors through meetings, financial aid comparisons, communication with college representatives, and conversations with family members to align goals and plans. These conversations — and the decisions that result from them — can place a lot of stress on students. A recent article from Eduventures Principal Analyst Kim Reid offers insight and recommended levels of support for students deciding between a community college and four-year university based on Eduventures’ Prospective Student Research.
In her article, “What You Need to Know About Students Who Opt for Two-year Schools,” Reid calls out “the bottom line” for college admissions offices, a sentiment that is important for counselors to remember as well: “Consider the student who has little experience with college, who is not the most confident student, who is facing paying for college with little to no family support. It’s a stretch for a student to consider a four-year school to be a viable option immediately after high school.”
Read the full article by Kim Reid, Eduventures principal analyst at Encoura here.