Reaching a record number of students in a growing number of high schools, the American College Application Campaign® (ACAC) last fall resulted in more than 500,000 seniors submitting roughly 835,000 applications.
Nearly 6,300 schools hosted an application event, representing a continuing expansion by the national initiative that focuses on first-generation students and students from low-income families who otherwise may not apply for college. In 2016, ACAC reached more than 5,700 high schools nationwide, with more than 773,000 applications submitted by about 460,000 seniors.
ACAC was launched in a single North Carolina high school in 2005. 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 and DC.
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 2018 application season with #WhyApply Day on Sept. 21.
After submitting their admissions applications, students also create their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) username and password known as the FSA ID, are encouraged to fill out the FAFSA form, and are provided with general information about the process.
ACAC also continues to collaborate with ACT’s 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 learners.
In 2017, ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning convened a working group to strengthen partnerships between the national campaigns supporting high school students as they navigate the path to college. The working group was composed of national organizations representing the four major steps students must successfully navigate during their senior year: ACAC (college application process), National College Access Network’s Form Your Future (FAFSA completion), Better Make Room’s College Signing Day (deciding and committing to a postsecondary plan), and the Center for Postsecondary Readiness and Success at American University (transition from secondary to postsecondary education).
Together, the group worked to develop a national repository of activities and resources that link up the four national campaign efforts. The goal of the partnership is to support college-going students on the path to success, elevate individual campaigns, and set an example of collaboration for other national, state, and local partners. The resulting Steps2College website provides school counselors and college access professionals, as well as students and families, resources to support students through the various college-going processes.