Volume 6, Issue 5 – October 2022

In This Issue:

Director's Note

GEAR UP Professional of the Year

Celebrating #WhyApply Day Together

You Still Have Time to Plan Your College Application Event

Counselor Corner


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On-Demand Webinar: Why Host a College Application Event
Watch Now


ACAC 2022 Campaign Resources
Find helpful templates, handouts, and planning resources on the ACAC website.

College Counseling Now Campaign
Responsive and informed college counseling resources for a rapidly changing world.

Upcoming College Admission Testing Dates
ACT: Dec. 10, register by Nov. 4.
SAT: Nov. 6, register by Oct. 7; Dec. 3, register by Nov. 3.

Sign up for K-12 Monthly FAFSA Reminders
FAFSA season is upon us, and NCAN wants to help you get ready. Get their monthly email reminders with tips, strategies, and resources you need to help your students complete their FAFSA. Sign up.

FAFSA 2022-23 is now live
Learn more


ACT My Journey
Get access to recorded sessions about navigating the college admissions process
Sign Up

Build a Balanced College List
Learn More

College and Career Planning Resources
Learn More: English and Spanish

NACAC Virtual College Fairs
Opportunities for students to meet with college representatives Oct. 9 and Nov. 6.
Learn More

Toolkit Tips:

With state campaigns in full swing, state coordinators are encouraged to:

1. Follow up with participating sites to confirm participation.

2. Share resources with participating sites.

3. Verify participating sites understand data collection requirements.

4. Issue a press release announcing the state’s college application week/month.

5. Continue to promote use of #WhyApply and #IApplied on social media.

6. Share photos of local events on social media.

Director's Note

August and September were busy months kicking off a new school year and college application season. In August, we co-hosted a webinar featuring three Schools of Excellence that focused on the importance of hosting a college application event, innovative ways to reach students, and lessons learned from our school counselor panelist. It’s not too late to watch and to get connected with your state application campaign.

Kimberly Hanauer (UnlockED, from left), Chantelle George (Chantelle George Consulting), Lisa King (ACAC), and Brittani Williams (former ACAC consultant and state coordinator) at the National College Attainment Network 2022 Conference.

Last month, I attended the National College Attainment Network conference, and I was so thankful for everyone who stopped by ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning booth to say hello. ACAC also had the opportunity to present our research and recommendations about postsecondary planning decisions during the pandemic with our SDSU Center for Equity and Postsecondary Attainment grant project collaborators.

#WhyApply Day was celebrated on Sept. 16 and we loved seeing all your creative and inspiring social media posts! Thank you to everyone who took the time to share what you learned in college. If you missed out on the fun and excitement, simply search the #WhyApply hashtag on any of your favorite social media platforms.

The Avenues for Success team through the SDSU Center for Equity and Postsecondary Attainment celebrated #WhyApply Day on September 16.

As part of #WhyApply Day, ACAC was recently featured in a Forbes piece by Tuwanda Jackson, college and career counselor for Friendship Tech Academy – and a 2020 ACAC School of Excellence recipient. In the piece, Tuwanda shares her experience as a first-generation college student and how those experiences motivated her to help others.

Lisa KingLastly, I want to thank you for your continued support. Whether you are based in a school organizing application events, sharing your personal education journey with a #WhyApply post, or establishing attainment goals at the state level, you matter and are making a difference in the lives of our students.

Lisa King, director

ACAC State Campaign Coordinator Named GEAR UP Professional of the Year

Congratulations to Carlos Bing, director of college access programs for Ohio Department of Higher Education, for being named NCCEP’s 2022 GEAR UP Professional of the Year!

Carlos has served as the ACAC state campaign coordinator for Ohio since early 2018 and was instrumental in the creation and growth of 3 To Get Ready 4 To Go effort which brought multiple statewide initiatives including Ohio College Application Month and FAFSA together under one campaign strategy.

Carlos Bing
Carlos Bing, ACAC’s Ohio state campaign coordinator and NCCEP’s 2022 GEAR UP Professional of the Year recipient.

Celebrating #WhyApply Day Together

By: Tuwanda Jackson, college and career counselor, Friendship Public Charter School, and 2020 Schools of Excellence recipient

Sept. 16 was #WhyApply Day, an annual social media celebration intended to open the college application season and inspire students to take the next step on their journey to postsecondary education. The following op-ed appeared in Forbes on that day. If you haven’t yet shared your #WhyApply, it’s not too late! Inspiring students happens every day of the year.

I’ll never forget the day I first set foot on the campus of Hampton University, a historically Black university located in southeastern Virginia. That will always be a day that lives in my head rent-free. Despite rain, I loved every minute of the tour and could imagine myself there. After being granted provisional acceptance to Hampton University, I participated in a summer bridge program where I completed an extra English and math class. I was then granted full acceptance.

This wasn’t just a first for me; this was a first for my family. As a child, my parents worked blue-collar jobs: my mom worked as a cook, and my dad was a construction worker. With a lot of hard work and dedication, four years later, I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. That was no small achievement. I was the first in my family to attend college and earn a master’s degree.

Currently, I serve as a College and Career Counselor at a public charter school in Washington, D.C. As the College and Career Counselor, I see myself in so many of my students. They have hopes and dreams of being the first in their family to earn a college degree and wonder if they’ll even get the opportunity to do so.

Read the full op-ed in Forbes.

You Still Have Time to Plan Your College Application Event

By: Adrienne Enriquez, national trainer consultant for ACAC

As we enter the month of October, you may be thinking it’s too late to host a college application event if you haven’t already started planning. It’s not! The goal of the American College Application Campaign is to increase the number of students from low-income families who apply to and enroll in postsecondary education. While some of these events have become annual traditions in schools with pep rallies or media coverage, we want to remind you that a successful event has two key elements: 

  • opportunities for students to complete their college applications with the assistance of caring adults; and
  • a celebratory moment when they’ve done so.

That’s it. It really is that simple. Can you provide all students in your building with an opportunity to get help with their applications? Do you have a caring adult who can offer a high five or “Good work!” when the application has been submitted? Then you still have time to plan your college application events this year. Get connected to your state’s campaign and find tools to help you plan on the ACAC website.

If you’ve already started planning and want a few more ideas to build excitement or prepare your students for the event, we can help with that, too. Last summer, three of our Schools of Excellence winners sat down with our friends at NCAN to share some of the things they do to make their events special for students in the webinar Why Host a College Application Event: Insights from ACAC 2021 Schools of Excellence.

Here are just a few of the key takeaways:

Each of the panelists reminded us that all students deserve the opportunity to pursue postsecondary education. Their events are successful, in part, because they serve all students – those who will be the first in their families to attend college, those in foster care or living with those other than their biological parents, those who are from low-income families, immigrants, and other students who have been historically underrepresented in higher education.

Erica Hampton, counselor at Liberty High School in West Virginia, has hosted application events for eight years and has grown the program into a community effort. They change it up a bit each year to keep it fresh, adding in small activities to build excitement and remind students that they’re not alone. One popular idea was a scavenger hunt following teachers’ post-high school journeys.

Cammie Kennedy, college and career coordinator at Wichita High School East in Kansas, encourages site coordinators to remember their own higher education pathway. Her goal is to always remind students “all of you are worth it – it doesn’t matter what anyone has told you, I’m going to tell you different.” With this in mind, she sought and received administrative support to include ninth-11th graders in the application events, inviting them to participate in a college, career, and military fair. She also ensures that all 12th graders participate by applying to some form of postsecondary education, whether a certificate program, community college, four-year university, or other opportunity.

Samina Ali, school counselor at Johnson Senior High School in Minnesota, recommends building a college-going culture. One way she does this is by continuing to celebrate students’ accomplishments after they’ve graduated so current students have something to aspire to. She hosts a bulletin board outside her office with pictures and educational plans of the school’s alumni to “plant a seed in students’ minds that this is something that they can do, that it’s something within their grasp. They’re seeing students that look like them, that they personally know from within the community that have continued their education.”

Watch the full webinar to gain even more insight and learn additional tips for hosting a successful event.

Counselor Corner

College Counseling and Smart College Application Lists

By: Bryan Contreras, vice president of education partnership, myOptions® Encourage

Bryan Contreras

We have a college completion achievement gap in our nation. And, historically, we know that some communities have been given more access to and opportunity for a college education.

Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce’s postsecondary completion report shines a light on this issue and what this means for young learners. The report states that 500,000 “college-ready” seniors from the top 1.5 million students across the nation don’t attain a college credential or degree. That’s about 5 million learners over a decade. The report goes on to describe what this means for the workforce, the nation’s economy, and the effect on individual learners such as leaving college with debt and no degree. The report also offers key interventions including the effectiveness of informational delivery and counseling.

myOptions Encourage provides a free college planning app, Encourage, for students and a free educator platform to support those who support students. Our goal is to democratize the college planning process. We believe this will help close the college completion opportunity gaps. We recognize the senior class is well into their college application cycle, but there is still time to help with a final scrub of their application lists, and the time is right to kick off these types of conversations with juniors.

To support your efforts, we have a great professional learning series for you and your teams.

This past summer, the myOptions Encourage team developed a three-part webinar series to share research, leadership practices, partnership advice, and proven counseling practices to help close the college completion gap by helping students build a "balanced" college list, all through the lens of access, degree completion, and equity. We brought together practitioners from a variety of organizations and colleges to describe guiding principles and critical practices that work together and lead to smarter college application lists for students. 

Presented in partnership with the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), myOptions Encourage is excited about the launch of this learning series. We'll talk about student support, family engagement, and program development. It's free to view anytime, and you can earn continuing education units (CEUs) for participation.

Special gratitude to Contigo EdUniversity of CincinnatiMarshall UniversityWest Virginia Higher Education Policy CommissionWest Virginia Department of Education, and The Education Alliance for their invaluable contributions and partnership in developing these resources.

And a special, special shout out to Heather McChesney, ACAC state coordinator for West Virginia, who led our third learning session.

You don't want to miss these! All sessions were recorded and are available for viewing now. All learning sessions will remain on the ASCA On Air learning library.

Through Encourage, students can kickstart their individual college list-building process through the 25 data-driven matches the free resources provides, and with myOptions Encourage for educators, you’ll have access to the college matches and scholarship opportunities for your individual students, providing additional information and context as you support students through this process. As always, if you have a school or school district interested in getting started with myOptions Encourage, just email [email protected] and we’re happy to help.

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