On May 14 and 15, the American College Application Campaign hosted its annual national convening in Washington, D.C. for the campaign state coordinators. Nearly all 50 states and the District of Columbia were represented with a few participating virtually. Being in the room with so many bright minds and dedicated, student-focused hearts is always such an inspiring experience.
The purpose of the state coordinators’ national convening is to share lessons learned from the 2018 application campaign and prepare for a new application season. State campaigns are tasked with identifying and working to remove the barriers preventing students from applying to college with a particular focus on students from low-income families and students who would be the first in their families to attend college. Because the campaign is conducted state by state, it’s important the state coordinators have the time to share and hear what’s working (or not) among their colleagues.
While together, the ACAC staff announced a goal to engage a minimum of 8,000 high schools nationally after reaching its goal to engage 7,000 high schools in 2018. All state coordinators accepted the challenge with excitement and a determination to establish individual statewide goals.
“This convening is one of the most impactful and meaningful ones that I attend all year,” said Summer Gortney, Kentucky’s state coordinator. “It’s empowering to be in a room with likeminded professionals aiming towards the same goal! Thank you for all you do!”
The state coordinators also enjoy when the spotlight is put on individual states to dig into a specific strategy or tactic working well in their state. Eight states were selected to share their successes through three panel discussions about social media strategy, using technology for virtual connections, and combining statewide initiatives. A ninth presentation was provided by Dr. Michelle Daley, comprehensive planning specialist and state program coordinator of the Maryland College Application Campaign at the Maryland State Department of Education, and Isaiah Ellis, outreach specialist at Maryland Higher Education Commission, who gave us a deep dive into the work Maryland is doing to support the most vulnerable students in the college-going process.
In addition to the state presentations, we were joined by a few of our national partner organizations including, the College Promise Campaign, the Common Application, National College Access Network (NCAN), and Reach Higher. We’re incredibly thankful for each organization taking the time to join us. Many of the college application campaigns have started to combine efforts of college application completion events, Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) completion, and college signing day in an effort to build a statewide college-going culture.
The convening, sponsored by ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning, the American Council on Education, and the Hearst Foundation, is our opportunity to collaborate and continuously improve efforts to build a college-going culture across schools, across communities, and across state lines.
Application season will be here before we know it! We hope you’ll join us in celebrating the season on Friday, September 20 for ACAC’s #WhyApply Day! Schools interested in joining the campaign and hosting an application completion event should visit www.equityinlearning.act.org/acac to learn more and to find your state campaign coordinator.