One of my favorite things about serving as ACAC’s director is our Annual Convening. Each spring, we bring together the state campaign coordinators for a collaborative, discussion-driven, multi-day learning opportunity to examine effective practices and strategies for implementing a College Application Campaign program. I always walk away from the convening recharged and filled with excitement over what our network can accomplish together. After this year’s convening, our team at ACT renewed our commitment to helping the state campaigns reflect on strategies to increase access and opportunity for students most in need and think through ways to address the systemic barriers preventing students from reaching their postsecondary goals.
I’d like to offer a special thank you to our guest presenters who joined us from the College Advising Corps, Encoura Eduventures Research, Piper & Gold Public Relations, and San Diego State University’s Center for Equity and Postsecondary Attainment.
I’d also like to share few quick updates to have on your radar as we enter the summer months.
- 2022 campaign resources are updated and available on the ACAC website and private state coordinator SharePoint.
- High schools and community-based organizations interested in hosting an application event this fall can register through ACAC and we will connect you with your state campaign coordinator.
- Save the date - #WhyApply Day is Friday, September 16, 2022
Thank you for all you do for the students in your state. The fall campaign season will be here before we know it. We look forward to supporting, sharing, and celebrating your 2022 successes.
Lisa King, director
Equity at ACT
By: Tina Gridiron, vice president, ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning
ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning is built on ACT’s more than 60-year commitment to help people achieve education and career success. We recognize that specific systemic hurdles must be addressed and overcome so all learners benefit, and that the circumstances of a child’s birth should not dictate college and career opportunities. Today, our work remains focused on building, supporting, and showcasing ACT’s efforts to create opportunity and close outcomes gaps for all individuals, including students of color, first-generation students, individuals with economic challenges, and exceptional and diverse learners.
ACT’s North Star
We exist to fight for fairness in education and create a world where everyone can discover and fulfill their potential.
Equity at ACT begins with committed leadership that seeks to embed an equity mindset in everything we do. Through the work of the Center, ACT strives to address systemic inequities and promote transformational learning and growth across the organization.
The American College Application Campaign network is one of the Center’s most robust initiatives whereby ACT receives and shares information to better support learners at all stages in their education journeys. Through the network of ACAC state leaders and the schools they support, ACT is proud to connect with leaders who make a positive impact in the lives of students every day.
To be a catalyst for change, the Center focuses on:
- outcomes – dedicated to decreasing outcomes gaps between different income and racial groups who engage with ACT solutions;
- engagement – committed to increasing and maximizing the engagement of diverse populations with ACT solutions to help each learner achieve their education and career goals; and
- collaboration – intentionally engaging with equity-focused external leaders and organizations to increase the reach and effectiveness of ACT’s tools and solutions.
How can the ACAC network join us in advancing equity?
1. Design for those most in need.
2. Promote and engage diverse student voices and student stories whenever possible.
3. Use our voices, as leaders, to promote equity, access, and success each day.
4. Set goals, track milestones, and share progress along the way.
Many students experience disruption and confusing messages along their education journeys. In response, the strength of the ACAC network is that we use our energy to help students navigate crowded pathways. We consistently step out of our comfort zones and advance equity for our students, within our organizations, and across all our efforts. The power of the ACAC network is demonstrated when, together, we reflect on how often we step into the equity space and then seek to increase and deepen our engagement over time.
As you plan and build your 2022 college application programs and events, it’s important to remember to set goals and measure our effects among first generation students, students of color, immigrant students, English learners, individuals with economic challenges, and exceptional and diverse learners. Equally important is to acknowledge milestones and celebrate progress along the way. It is not a clear nor an easy pathway, so as we all press forward, let’s lift up our successes, and use our collective momentum to ensure every student receives what they need to achieve their full academic potential.
Bringing Students Together Creates College Application Success
By Lisa King, director, American College Application Campaign
This article was first published on ACT’s blog on May 6, 2022.
A key to the success of educators working to increase the number of first-generation college students and students from low-income families pursuing a college degree or other higher education credential is how they creatively hold events, from large to small. This is exemplified by the recent winners of the third annual School of Excellence awards, an initiative of the American College Application Campaign (ACAC) that honors schools across the country that are helping students pursue postsecondary success.
While these application events often take place from September through December, a growing number of schools and even some colleges are gathering students in the spring to remind them that there’s still time to apply. But regardless of the timing, school counselors and college and career readiness teachers and coaches stress the importance of including all students — and their families — in college preparation opportunities.
Johnson Senior High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, was named a 2021 School of Excellence, in part because of its ability to bring students together as part of this national effort.
Samina Ali, a counselor at the high school, says she’s most proud of its annual Scholarship and Financial Aid Night, where students and families are invited to meet with scholarship representatives, community partners, higher education admissions representatives, financial aid officers, language translators, and school staff.
Read about more successful efforts at Schools of Excellence on the blog.
Summer: Rest, Reflect, Reset
By: Bryan Contreras, vice president of education partnership, myOptions Encourage
As we close out another academic year, the summer brings the opportunity to rest, reflect, and reset. It’s important to build time into our summer calendars for these three Rs, or we risk packing our schedules with other competing activities or tasks. As college access and career advising professionals to young people across the nation, we play a key role in our students’ futures. Students depend on our mental and physical health. They rely on our understanding of their needs and their community. And they expect that we will spend time learning information and skills to inform our work next year. So, even as we all plan time to rest, consider ways you can carve out time at the beach, in the mountains, or during a staycation to get caught up on some professional reading.
Years ago, I was introduced to a leadership development concept called “70-20-10.” In short, this represents a simple ratio describing how we acquire new information and teach new skills. Seventy percent of our learning and teaching occurs on the job or in the role while training; 20% occurs at professional development conferences; and the final 10% comes from reading articles or books. With that in mind, a little reading this summer might help us learn and grow in our work.
We all have articles, podcasts, journals, and books that we can point to as having helped inform our professional development. There are some that we used to gain college knowledge and/or to better understand career and workforce trends. And there are some that helped us learn about management of programs or teams and leadership competencies. Depending on where we are in our professional journey, we may find we gravitate towards specific authors, thought leaders, or resources. This month, I’m recommending four books and sharing how they shaped my approach to college and career counseling:
The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner
This book was published in 2008 at the height of the Great Recession when I was leading a team of college counselors in Houston. Wagner’s work helped me, as director of college counseling, revise our graduate profile to include the “new world of work and seven survival skills” students needed to be successful in college and beyond. It also helped inform discussions between our curriculum teams and counseling teams to ensure that our schools developed 21st thinkers and leaders.
Catching Up or Leading the Way by Yong Zhao
Published in 2009, Zhao’s research shines a light on the global and digital economy, what this means for the United States education system, and how students from the U.S. fit into both these economies. Zhao reflects on the Chinese education system, discusses the differences between the U.S. and Chinese education systems, and their respective effects on students. This book opened my eyes to the emerging economies, and it helped prepare me for conversations about the importance of postsecondary credentials in the digital economy.
The Fuzzy and the Techie by Scott Hartley
This became one of my favorite books. Hartley published his book in 2017 to tell us why he felt the liberal arts will rule the digital world. He is a venture capitalist who previously worked at Google and Facebook. It is a fascinating read that breaks down the role liberal arts play in big data, tech tools, and the future of jobs. This book helped me counsel students that were not confident a liberal arts experience was the right match for them. It also helped me explain to families the return on investment that liberal arts colleges provide to students.
Ready, Willing, and Able by Mandy Savitz-Romer and Suzanne Bouffard
Published in 2012, this book is my primary resource to describe what a successful college and career counseling program needs to include. The authors do a magnificent job framing for school counselors and program managers “a developmental approach to college access and success” which includes both student- and educator-facing competencies. This book became my playbook to build new college counseling programs and to re-engineer legacy college counseling programs to meet my students’ needs.
Although some of the books listed above are more than a decade old, the forward thinking of the authors and researchers make them relevant today. In fact, much of their research and work describes what we came to witness over the past two pandemic years with technology, big data, global markets, and the education ecosystem where students learn and grow. My hope is that you find time to rest, reflect, and reset along with a book or two because sometimes we must slow down if we want to speed up. Happy reading!