State Leaders Convene to Discuss Approach for 2020 Application Campaign Season

In early May, the American College Application Campaign virtually hosted its annual national convening, bringing together the state campaign coordinators and a few of our national partners. Nearly all 50 states and the District of Columbia were represented during the six virtual sessions hosted over three days. Though we were not together in person, the energy and excitement for this work was still very present. Our time together proved ACAC state campaign coordinators are ready to dive in and adjust our application campaign efforts no matter what the 2020-21 school year may look like.

The annual convening is a space for state campaign coordinators to share lessons learned and prepare for a new application season. This year, we are faced with a unique challenge in preparing for the unknowns of the college-going process. We are living in unprecedented times and recognize that many plans our students and families had about postsecondary education may be shifting due to the current circumstances.

The convening brought many questions as we considered what a 2020 college application event may look like: Will students physically return to their school buildings? What will it look like if they do resume classes in the building? What new recommendations and guidelines do we create to keep the health and safety of students, their families, and school staff a top priority while ensuring all students have the opportunity to apply to college? How do we provide virtual help when a student fills out their college application?

A necessary discussion during the annual convening this year was breaking down the trauma, grief, and stress our students are facing and its impact on the college-going process. Laura Owen, PhD., American University, and director, Center for Postsecondary Readiness and Success, and Kara Leva, PhD., Rowan University, led the conversation and helped our state coordinators understand the impact of the COVID-19 trauma on the brain, body and behavior. This presentation was recorded and is available for school counselors, college advisers and anyone working directly with students. It’s critical anyone helping students navigate the path to college listen to this recording. It will help you have a fuller understanding of what students are currently feeling and the barriers our students need to overcome. Leva and Owen reminded us “there are no right or wrong decisions, just the best decision students can make for themselves in this moment.”

Postsecondary Advising During COVID-19:

  • Maintain strong relationships with students
  • Focus on student wellbeing first
  • Ask how the pandemic has impacted their post high school plans
  • Help students remain up-to-date on the changing landscape – remember students don’t know what they don’t know – offer targeted and specific information

As students and their families consider their options, ACAC is committed to providing guidance and resources to help them determine the right path from a college match, fit, and cost perspective. Though ACAC is still developing new resources to help with the adjustments that may be necessary for a virtual college application event, we still have a number of 2020 campaign resources available on the ACAC website. Check back often over the summer as we add additional resources. If you have ideas or suggestions for new resources, email us.

We also encourage you to sign up for the ACAC newsletter to stay current with the campaign. We will share updates on new resources, webinars, and Twitter chats. Students and families may have challenging decisions ahead, but ACAC and our state campaigns are here to support students no matter what pathway they choose.

Join us Wednesday, June 3 at 2 PM EDT for our #COVIDEquityChat on Twitter. We’ve partnered with organizations including AVID, the American Consortium for Equity in Education (ACE-ED), Better Make Room, the Center for First-Generation Student Success, Common App, Mawi Learning, and Reach Higher which all serve underserved populations. The chat will examine current stressors and needs, and share much-needed resources from these partners to empower students from underserved populations to keep moving ahead in their journeys through education and career.