The data continue to come in, but estimates show that the American College Application Campaign® (ACAC) last fall reached more than 5,700 high schools nationwide, resulting in more than 773,000 applications submitted by about 460,000 seniors.
That represents, to date, about an 18 percent increase from fall 2015 in the number of participating high schools. ACAC state coordinators continue to send updates and final figures, but a national goal to reach 7,000 high schools this fall already has been set.
Launched in a single North Carolina high school in 2005, ACAC focuses on first-generation students and students from low-income families who otherwise may not apply for college.
It turned into a nationwide initiative in 2010 when ACE convened a national steering committee of government and nonprofit education leaders to guide the effort. By 2014, ACAC had expanded to all 50 states. Since its inception, ACAC has assisted some 1.5 million students in completing approximately 2.5 million college applications.
Individual state application assistance events occur throughout the fall at high schools, most in October and November, during the school day. The goal is to create the opportunity for all seniors to submit at least one application. ACAC will be kicking off the application season with #WhyApply Day on Sept. 22.
After submitting their admissions applications, students also register for their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) identification number, are encouraged to fill out the FAFSA form and are provided with general information about the process.
Meanwhile, as part of its work helping inform stakeholders about the larger college-going process, ACAC last month hosted a Twitter chat on understanding award letters and student financial aid, under the hashtag, #AwardLettersChat. Stay tuned for information about topics and dates for future Twitter chats, including one planned for June.
ACAC also continues to collaborate with the ACT® Center for Equity in Learning as it works to assist high school seniors in navigating the college admissions process. The Center advances ACT’s nonprofit mission to help people achieve education and workplace success through partnerships, research and initiatives aimed at closing gaps in equity and achievement for underserved and working learners.
In addition to increasing the number of participating high schools, ACAC is working with ACT on two other initiatives:
- Partnering with Delaware State University, National Student Clearinghouse, and National Council for Community and Education Partnerships, using a U.S. Department of Education First in the World grant, to evaluate the impact of the newly developed College Match and Fit Toolkit on college application, enrollment and persistence behaviors. The Toolkit, which uses ACT Profile, was used by first-generation and/or low-income high school students in Delaware for a pilot study during the 2016-17 academic year, and a larger scale study is planned in Delaware for the 2017-18 academic year.
- The development of a Pre-College and Career Readiness Curriculum, created for early awareness and education of the college-going process. The curriculum is currently being designed using the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) Mindsets and Behaviors for Student Success standards and will be highlighted at ASCA’s conference this summer. The curriculum will be available on ACAC’s website for national use this spring.
These collaborations elevate ACAC in new and exciting ways, and, through the work with the Center for Equity in Learning, ACAC is able to advance the college readiness and achievement of underserved young people in the United States.